Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal, and the government prosecuted such cases. In 2013 federal police registered 3,072 rapes and 3,561 indecent assaults. A convicted rapist may be imprisoned for 10 to 30 years, depending on factors such as the age of the victim, the difference in age between the offender and the victim, their relationship, and the use or absence of violence during the crime.
The law prohibits domestic violence and provides for fines and incarceration. In 2013 federal police registered 20,090 complaints of physical violence between partners, 101 complaints of domestic sexual violence, and 18,245 complaints of domestic psychological violence. In June 2013 the 2010-14 national action plan against domestic violence was amended to include other forms of violence such as forced marriages, honor crimes, or female genital mutilation. Women from Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, and Asia were subjected to sexual exploitation.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C. Reported cases were filed primarily by recent immigrants or asylum seekers. No cases were reported during the year. Specialized nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) organized several awareness campaigns against FGM/C during the year.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Harmful traditional practices were rare occurrences, with the most common being FGM/C. The 2010-14 national action plan of the Federal Institute for Equality of Men and Women focused inter alia on violence linked to honor and FGM/C.
Sexual Harassment: Reliable statistics on sexual harassment were not easily accessible, since formal complaints may be filed with various entities. The law aims to prevent violence and harassment at work, obliging companies to set up internal procedures to handle employee complaints. The government generally enforced the antiharassment legislation. Although a national campaign to fight sexual harassment does not exist, politicians and organizations such as the Federal Institute for the Equality of Men and Women worked to raise awareness of the dangers of sexual harassment. A number of government-supported shelters and telephone help lines were available across the country for victims of domestic abuse. In addition to providing lodging, many shelters assisted in legal matters, job placement, and psychological counseling to both partners.
A law adopted in August introduced penal sanctions (from one month to one year in prison and fines ranging from 50 euros to 1,000 euros ($63 to $125) for sexist remarks and attitudes. While observers underlined the symbolic importance of the law, they also highlighted its limitations, as the sexist remark or attitude must target a specific individual (whereby movies or ads do not fall under the scope of the law). Observers noted that, as a practical matter, legal procedures and evidentiary requirements could make it difficult for many victims to pursue legal recourse under the new law.
Reproductive Rights: The constitution provides for complete freedom in the way persons organize their private lives, including the basic right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children. Health clinics and local health NGOs operated freely in disseminating information on family planning. There are no restrictions on the right to access contraceptives.
Discrimination: Women have the same legal rights as men, including rights under family law, property law, in the judicial system, in labor relations, and in social welfare protection. The law requires equal pay for equal work and prohibits discrimination on the grounds of gender, pregnancy, or motherhood as well as sexual intimidation in labor relations and in access to goods, services, social welfare, and health care.
The Federal Institute for the Equality of Men and Women, which is responsible for promoting gender equality, may initiate lawsuits if it discovers violations of equality laws. Most complaints received during the year were work related and concerned the termination of employment contracts due to pregnancy (see section 7.d.). Economic discrimination against women continued. In 2013 the institute released a survey (based on 2011 data) indicating women were paid at an hourly rate 10 percent less than their male colleagues. This represented an annual gap of 22 percent, taking into account part-time work. The law requires that one-third of the board members of publicly traded companies, but not private ones, be women.
The law requires companies with at least 50 employees to provide a clear overview of their compensation plans, a detailed breakdown by gender of their wages and fringe benefits, a gender-neutral classification of functions, and the possibility of appointing a mediator to address and follow up on gender-related problems. All elements of the law were implemented through royal decree.
For all children born or adopted as of June 1 and, as a matter of transition, for all minor children until May 31, 2015, parents have the option to choose between the father’s, the mother’s, or both last names to register their children. Children of these parents must then have the same last name. A child’s default name remains the father’s last name.