Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is a crime, but evidentiary requirements, either in the form of clear physical injury or the testimony of a witness, often presented difficulties in prosecuting such crimes. The penalties for rape range from six months’ to 20 years’ imprisonment. There were no reports of police or judicial reluctance to act on rape cases; however, women’s rights advocates claimed that attitudes of police, hospitals, and courts toward survivors of sexual violence sometimes revictimized the individual.
No statistics were available on the number of rape cases reported during the year. In 2013, the year for which the most recent available statistics were available, 5,371 prisoners were serving terms under rape charges. Many rapes went unreported due to fear of further violence, retribution, and social stigma.
The law prohibits domestic violence, including spousal abuse, and complaints are addressed in civil courts to secure protection measures. Family court judges have the right to bar a perpetrator from a victim’s home or workplace. The law requires the state to open a criminal investigation, potentially resulting in life imprisonment, in cases where violence results in death. The law imposes stricter penalties on those who kill their spouses, partners, or children as a consequence of gender violence. A 2013 law created a national DNA registry of sex criminals, but at the end of the year it remained unclear whether the registry was operational. According to local NGOs, lack of police and judicial vigilance often led to a lack of protection for victims.
The NGO La Casa del Encuentro reported 295 women died in 2013 as a result of domestic or gender-based violence. Approximately 70 percent of the killings involved a husband, boyfriend, or former boyfriend. In at least 25 cases, the woman had filed a complaint against the aggressor for domestic violence. Between 2008 and 2013, there were 1,531 reported cases of femicide.
On June 22, Carmen Leguizamon Zamora was stabbed to death in front of her five children by her husband, Luis Quevedo, in the town of San Jose in Cordoba Province. Quevedo fled the scene and at year’s end had not been found or arrested.
The Supreme Court’s Office of Domestic Violence provided around-the-clock protection and resources to victims of domestic violence. The office received approximately 850 cases of domestic violence each month in the city of Buenos Aires, an estimated 80 percent of which involved violence against women. The office also carried out risk assessments necessary to obtain a restraining order. The Victims against Violence program empowers a team of specialists from the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights to assist victims of domestic and sexual violence. The program reported an average of 700 telephone calls per month.
Public and private institutions offered prevention programs and provided support and treatment for abused women. The Buenos Aires Municipal Government operated a small shelter for battered women.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): No law prohibits FGM/C, and the practice was virtually nonexistent in the country.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the public sector and imposes disciplinary or corrective measures. In some jurisdictions, such as Buenos Aires City, sexual harassment might lead to the abuser’s dismissal, whereas in others, such as Santa Fe Province, the maximum penalty is five days in prison.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals generally had the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, as well as the right to attain the highest standard of reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Access to information on contraception and skilled attendance at delivery and in postpartum care were widely available. The law requires the government to provide free contraceptives, and an estimated 64 to 70 percent of women used modern contraceptive means. During the year the chief of cabinet announced all 24 provinces had health programs providing free contraceptive methods to the population.
Discrimination: Although women enjoyed the same legal status and rights as men under family, labor, property, and inheritance laws, they continued to face economic discrimination and held a disproportionately high number of lower-paying jobs. Women also held significantly fewer executive positions in the private sector than men, according to several studies. Although equal payment for equal work is constitutionally mandated, women earned approximately 55 percent as much as men for similar or equal work.
The Supreme Court’s Office of Women trained judges, secretaries, and clerks to handle court cases related to women’s issues and ensure equal access for women to positions in the court system. The office also trained judges, prosecutors, judicial staff, and law enforcement agents to increase awareness of gender-related crimes and develop techniques to address gender-related cases and victims.