Rape and Domestic Violence: Sexual assault, including rape, is a crime. There is no specific law against spousal rape. Sexual assault involving a dangerous weapon or serious physical or psychological harm to the victim is punishable by up to nine years’ imprisonment in Chuuk and 10 years’ imprisonment in the other three states, and a fine of up to $20,000 (the U.S. dollar is the national currency) in Kosrae and $10,000 in the other states. If neither a dangerous weapon nor serious physical harm is involved, the assault is punishable in all states by up to five years’ imprisonment or a fine. Due to social stigma, such crimes were underreported, and authorities prosecuted few cases. The police academy curriculum included programs to train police officers to recognize the problem. According to police and women’s groups, there were a number of reports of physical and sexual assaults against women, both citizens and foreigners, outside the family context.
Reports of frequently severe domestic violence continued during the year. Although assault is a crime, there were no specific laws against domestic violence. Effective prosecution of offenses was rare. In many cases victims decided against initiating legal charges against a family member because of family pressure, fear of further assault, or the belief that police would not involve themselves actively in what is seen as a private family problem. Within the traditional extended family unit, violence, abuse, and neglect directed against spouses or children were deemed offenses against the family, not just the individual victims, and were addressed by a complex system of familial sanctions. Traditional methods of coping with family discord were breaking down with increasing urbanization, monetization of the economy, and greater emphasis on the nuclear family. No government entity, including the police, has succeeded in replacing the extended family system or in addressing directly the problem of family violence.
There were no governmental facilities to shelter and support women in abusive situations. Chuuk has a private facility for women’s groups, funded by a foreign government. In Yap, a multipurpose facility including a shelter was under construction. The Pohnpei Department of Public Safety’s program of domestic violence education included a hotline and training of its officers to handle domestic violence situations. In Pohnpei, there were 26 women’s organizations, and a center opened in July 2013 to serve as an office for them.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C was not a known practice, and there were no laws forbidding it.
Sexual Harassment: The law does not prohibit sexual harassment, and anecdotal reports suggested it occurred.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of children, and the information and means to do so free from discrimination. Access to contraception, prenatal care, skilled attendance at delivery, and postpartum care were widely available through private and public medical facilities. The government conducted public information campaigns on reproductive health matters through posters and billboards. Other types of local media were not readily available.
Discrimination: Women have equal rights under the law, including the right to own property, and there were no institutional barriers to education or employment. The largest employers were the national and state governments, and female employees received equal pay for equal work. Approximately half of the country’s formal jobs were in the public sector, with 5,000-plus in state and municipal government positions and approximately 2,500 in national government and government agencies or public enterprises. Societal discrimination against women continued, however, and cultural mores encouraged differential treatment for women. Nonetheless, women were active and increasingly successful in private business. For example, a number of women ran successful retail businesses in all four states. A national women’s working group composed of female national government employees, including the secretary of health and social services, existed to advise the government. Additionally, several small nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) were interested in women’s problems, particularly those associated with family violence and abuse. The Women’s Interest Section of the Department of Health and Social Services worked to protect and promote women’s rights.