Rape and Domestic Violence: The criminal code outlaws sexual intercourse through physical violence (or threat of violence) and provides for sentences of 15 to 25 years’ imprisonment or death, depending on the circumstances. (Note: Although the death penalty exists in the criminal code, it has been abolished in practice.) No law specifically prohibits spousal rape, which authorities do not commonly recognize or prosecute.
NGOs alleged that many rapes were not reported and stated that cultural norms, as well as stressful police and judicial procedures, tended to discourage reporting. The Judicial General Council reported that during the first half of the year, 98 rape cases were registered at court; 10 involved victims under age 16. In the same period, 109 persons were convicted of rape.
Domestic violence remained a serious and widespread problem. In the first seven months of the year, the NGO National Center against Violence (NCAV) registered 660 reports of domestic violence, attributing an increase over the previous year to greater public awareness. Vigorous campaigning by NGOs and government entities was credited with bringing domestic violence into the public discourse and elevating government efforts to combat it. The NCAV also reported an increase in the number of police officers requesting information and a drop in complaints that police had refused to respond to domestic violence calls; The NCAV attributed these developments to growing government and public awareness of domestic violence problems. All police officers’ position descriptions include combating domestic violence.
There is no specific criminal law provision on domestic violence, although prosecutors may pursue criminal charges under other provisions of the criminal code (such as assault, battery, infliction of injury, disorderly conduct, and hooliganism). Civil law provides a measure of protection for victims of domestic abuse, including the possibility of obtaining restraining orders, but a number of procedural and other barriers make restraining orders difficult to obtain and enforce. The law requires police who receive reports of domestic violence to accept and file complaints, visit the site of incidents, interrogate offenders and witnesses, enforce administrative penalties, and take victims to a refuge. It also provides for sanctions against offenders, including expulsion from the home, prohibitions on the use of joint property, prohibitions on meeting victims and on access to minors, and compulsory training aimed at behavior modification. Domestic violence cannot be reported anonymously, which may dissuade individuals from reporting it.
Alleged perpetrators of domestic violence were sometimes detained on administrative rather than criminal charges. Those detained under administrative charges were typically fined MNT 15,000 ($7.51) and released after a maximum detention of 72 hours. The determination of whether to charge alleged perpetrators with administrative or criminal offenses depended on the severity of physical injury inflicted on the victim.
The NCAV stated that in the first nine months of the year, it provided services, including shelter, to more than 1,000 persons. The government continued to contract with the NCAV and other NGOs to provide services to victims.
The Ulaanbaatar Metropolitan Police Department’s Prevention of Domestic Violence and Crimes against Children Division included a police-run shelter for victims of domestic violence. The shelter staff received Ministry of Justice-funded training from NCAV staff members during the year.
According to the NCAV, there were seven shelters (two in Ulaanbaatar) and five one-stop service centers (three in Ulaanbaatar) run by a variety of NGOs, local government agencies, and hospitals. The one-stop service centers, located primarily at hospitals, provided emergency shelter to victims for up to 72 hours. Victims who needed longer-term accommodations were transferred to shelters. The small number of shelters, particularly in rural areas, presented a challenge for domestic violence victims seeking assistance.
Sexual Harassment: The law charges employers with taking steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, including by establishing internal rules about sexual harassment and the redress of complaints, but provides no penalties. Although the law provides that victims of sexual harassment may file complaints with the NHRC, such complaints were rare. NGOs stated that there was a lack of awareness and consensus within society of what constituted inappropriate behavior, making it difficult to gauge the extent of the problem. The NHRC reported poor knowledge of the law’s sexual harassment provisions among both employers and employees.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely the number, spacing, and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. A local NGO that supports teenage mothers reported that social stigma and poor knowledge of reproductive health impeded young women’s access to prenatal care. Additionally, although reproductive health information was widely available, it was rarely produced in a format accessible to persons with disabilities. According to the Mongolian National Federation of Wheelchair Users, it was virtually impossible for women in wheelchairs to go to the hospital for prenatal checks, both because of a lack of physical access and negative attitudes.
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights to women and men, including equal pay for equal work and equal access to education. These rights were observed with some exceptions. The law sets mandatory quotas for the inclusion of women within the government and political parties. It also outlaws discrimination on the basis of sex, appearance, or age.
Women made up approximately half of the workforce, and a significant number were the primary wage earners for their families. The law prohibits women from working in occupations that require heavy labor or exposure to chemicals that could affect infant and maternal health, and the government effectively enforced these provisions. Many women occupied mid-level positions in government and business or were involved in the creation and management of trading and manufacturing businesses. The mandatory retirement age is 60 for both men and women.
Despite the law women faced discrimination in employment (see section 7.d.).
Divorced women secured alimony payments under the family law, which details rights and responsibilities regarding alimony and parenting. The former husband and wife evenly divide property and assets acquired during their marriage. In a majority of cases, the divorced wife retained custody of any children; divorced husbands often failed to pay child support and did so without penalty. Women’s activists said that because family businesses were usually registered under the husband’s name, ownership continued to be transferred automatically to the former husband in divorce cases.
No separate government agency oversees women’s rights, but the National Committee on Gender Equality under the prime minister’s office coordinates policy and women’s interests among ministries, NGOs, and gender councils at the provincial and local levels. There was also a related division within the Ministry of Population Development and Social Protection. In parliament a Standing Committee on Social Policy, Education, and Science focused on gender matters.