Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal and punishable by up to eight years’ imprisonment. Limited investigative resources, poor forensic capabilities, and an ineffective judicial system prevented prosecution of most cases. The government launched a public media campaign highlighting violence against women. The Ministry of Justice and Human Rights worked with the Ministry of Interior to increase the number of female police officers and to improve police response to rape allegations.
A joint report published in August by the Ministries of Family and Protection of Women, Interior, and Social Assistance and Reintegration stated that in 2014 there were 16,237 reported cases of domestic violence.
The Zero Tolerance for Gender and Sexual Based Violence campaign continued. The campaign increased awareness of sexual violence and encouraged women to file police reports. The Ministry of Family and Protection of Women held a seminar in October with NGOs and provincial government authorities to discuss sexual violence and preventive best practices.
The law criminalizes domestic violence and penalizes offenders with prison sentences and fines depending on the severity of their crime. The government reported it had 27 domestic violence counseling centers, seven other shelters, and various treatment centers throughout the country. It called for more studies into the causes of domestic violence as well as more shelters to help victims. The ministry maintained a program with the Angolan Bar Association to give free legal assistance to abused women and established counseling centers to help families cope with domestic abuse. Statistics on prosecutions for violence against women were not available.
The Organization of Angolan Women (OMA), a political association affiliated with the ruling MPLA, held a series of seminars across the country to increase awareness of the dangers of domestic violence. For example, during an OMA seminar in May, the OMA compared domestic violence cases that were reported in Cuando Cubango Province in the first trimesters of 2014 and 2015. The OMA found that in 2014 citizens reported eight incidences of domestic violence, compared with only three in 2015. OMA argued the decrease was not a sign that domestic violence was declining but a sign of disinterest by society and urged provincial authorities to educate communities against domestic violence.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): Although the law does not specifically ban FGM/C, it protects the integrity of women and children against bodily harm, and there are special provisions against mutilation. According to local health experts, FGM/C was not a problem. In October, however, one local newspaper featured a story on FGM/C that alleged the practice existed in some African migrant communities.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: During the year sporadic news reports of children being accused of witchcraft were published. The National Institute for Religious Affairs acknowledged that belief in, and accusations of, witchcraft continued to exist, particularly in Zaire and Uige provinces, but stated that cases of abusive practices diminished significantly due to campaigns and government directives aimed at reducing indigenous religious practices such as shamanism, animal sacrifices, and witchcraft. There were anecdotal reports of women and children being abused by their communities because of accusations they practiced witchcraft. The Ministry of Culture and the National Institute for Children (INAC) had educational initiatives and emergency programs to assist children accused of witchcraft.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment was common and not illegal. Such cases may be prosecuted under assault and battery and defamation statutes.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; have access to the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, or violence. According to the UN Population Division, 12 percent of married women used a modern method of contraception. During the year the government issued its first-ever national family planning strategy. According to the most recent UN reporting, the maternal mortality ratio was 460 deaths per 100,000 live births. High maternal mortality was likely due to inadequate access to health facilities before, during, and after giving birth, and early pregnancy. The government continued to work on reducing the high maternal mortality rate by increasing public access to reproductive and skilled obstetric care.
According to UN sources, 55 percent of women were 18 or younger when they gave birth to their first child. There were no legal barriers that limit access to reproductive health services, but some cultural views, such as the responsibility of women to have children, and religious objections to using contraception, limited access. Comprehensive information on government provisions for reproductive health services or diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS, improved with the assistance of international partners.
Discrimination: Under the constitution and law, women enjoy the same rights and legal status as men, but societal discrimination against women remained a problem, particularly in rural areas (see also section 7.d.). There were no effective mechanisms to enforce child support laws, and women generally bore the major responsibility for raising children. There were no known cases of official or private sector discrimination in employment or occupation, credit, pay, owning and/or managing a business, or housing. Gender discrimination was more prevalent in terms of household responsibilities than in access to goods or services.
The law provides for equal pay for equal work (see section 7.d.), although women generally held low-level positions.
In an interministerial effort led by the Ministry of Family and Protection of Women, the government undertook multiple information campaigns on women’s rights and domestic abuse and hosted national, provincial, and municipal workshops and training sessions.