Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is illegal and carries maximum sentences ranging from 10 years’ to life imprisonment. Anecdotal evidence suggested it was a pervasive problem, with 14 rapes and 28 cases of acts defined as unlawful sexual intercourse reported as of August. A spouse can bring rape charges only if the two are separated and living in separate quarters. The Directorate of Gender Affairs, part of the Ministry of Education, Gender, Sports, and Youth Affairs, publicized a crisis hotline for victims and witnesses to sexual assault and managed a sexual assault center that coordinates responses to sexual assault. Police immediately refer reported rapes to the Sexual Offenses Unit, and a female police officer and often a caseworker from the Directorate of Gender Affairs accompany the victim for questioning, medical examinations, treatment, and court appearances, if necessary. An investigation commences once the crime is reported. In 2011 authorities prosecuted 10 cases of unlawful sexual intercourse. In situations where the survivor did not know her assailant, the case could take years to come to trial. The Directorate of Gender Affairs reported that the number of rape survivors coming forward increased following the creation of the Sexual Offenses Unit in 2007.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, continued to be a serious problem. The law prohibits and provides penalties for domestic violence, but some women were reluctant to testify against their abusers due to fear of stigma, retribution, or further violence. The government noted an increase in women coming forward in the years since enactment of the Domestic Violence Act of 1999. The Directorate of Gender Affairs operated a domestic violence program that provided training for law enforcement officers, health-care professionals, counselors, social workers, immigration officers, and army officers. The directorate also worked with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), individuals, and businesses to provide safe havens for abused women and children. Services for victims of domestic violence included counseling and an advocacy caseworker who accompanied the victim to the hospital, police station, and court, if necessary.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is not illegal and was rarely prosecuted. According to the Labor Department, there was a high incidence of sexual harassment reported in both the private and public sectors. However, there were no cases formally reported during the year; the lack of reporting was believed to result from concerns about retaliation. The labor court requires a safe working environment for all persons, and that court could address harassment cases, although no such cases were filed during the year.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals had the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and had the information to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. There was adequate access to contraception. Most pregnant women had at least one antenatal care visit, and most women gave birth in hospitals. A 2008 UNICEF report indicated that skilled attendance at birth was 100 percent and estimated the contraceptive prevalence rate at 53 percent. Incidence of maternal mortality was not available.
Discrimination: Women enjoy the same rights as men under the law. However, economic conditions tended to limit women to home and family, although some women worked as domestics, in agriculture, or in the large tourism sector. Despite these limitations, women were well represented in the private and public sectors. There was no legislation requiring equal pay for equal work, but women faced no restrictions involving ownership of property. The Directorate of Gender Affairs is charged with promoting the rights of women, and other departments are also involved, including the Ministry of Labor.