Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law effectively. It also prohibits violence against women, and independent media and government agencies generally paid close attention to gender violence.
According to the Observatory against Domestic and Gender Violence, 61 women, 21 of whom were foreign born, were killed by their partner or ex-partner during the year. The observatory noted that only a small number of the women killed had reported abuse prior to their death. During the year a survey by the Ministry of Equality found that 600,000 women reported being assaulted by their partners, although authorities registered only 130,000 domestic violence complaints during the year. The observatory cautioned that immigrant women and women over the age of 56 remained vulnerable groups to gender violence.
The law establishes prison sentences of six months to a year for domestic violence, threats of violence, or violations of restraining orders, with longer sentences if serious injuries result. According to 2011 statistics from the General Counsel of the Judicial Power, 80 percent of domestic violence cases resulted in a conviction.
In April parliament approved reforms that provide special protections for irregular migrant women who report domestic abuse, including the suspension of a woman’s deportation proceedings, provisions to obtain a work permit, and additional protection measures for accompanying children.
More than 50 offices provided legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, and there were more than 454 shelters for battered women. A 24-hour toll-free national hotline advised battered women on finding shelter and other local assistance. As of October 2011, the hotline took calls in Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Portuguese, Romanian, and Russian. As of October 2010, there were 127 specialized courts dealing exclusively with domestic violence cases, an increase from 103 in 2009.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): FGM is prohibited, and the law authorizes courts to prosecute cases even if the crime occurred overseas. Spain’s first trial for FGM was successfully prosecuted in November in Teruel, Aragon. The court sentenced the father of a two-year-old girl to six years in prison and the mother to two years for mutilating their daughter when she was eight months old. The court ruling stated that the mutilation took place in Spain and the parents subjected their daughter to FGM because of their religious and cultural beliefs.
In Catalonia the law requires that a doctor examine immigrants considered to be in danger of FGM when they travel to and from their countries of origin. Parents whose children were determined to have been subjected to FGM risked losing custody. Catalan regional police had procedures to prevent FGM through the early detection of potential victims, immediate reporting of possible cases to appropriate authorities, and, when possible, preventing the travel of potential victims. During the year the Catalan police prevented the genital mutilation of 36 girls, compared with 28 in 2010. In Catalonia alone, at least 10,000 girls were at risk of FGM, according to a 2009 report by Autonomous University of Barcelona.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace; however, harassment was reported to be a problem.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals decide freely the number, spacing, and timing of their children and enjoy the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Obstetric and postpartum care is provided under the national health plan. Contraception is easily accessible, including emergency contraception, which is available without a doctor’s prescription.
Discrimination: Under the law women enjoy the same rights as men, including rights under family law, property law, and in the judicial system. The Women’s Institute worked to ensure the legal rights of women, combat economic discrimination, and integrate women into the professional workplace. The unemployment rate for women (23.1 percent) continued to be higher than for men (22.8 percent). Discriminatory wage differentials continued to exist, and women held fewer senior management positions than men. According to data from the National Statistics Institute, women in the country earned 22 percent less than men. Access to health care is a fundamental right under the constitution regardless of gender, and women had equal access to diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.