Rape and Domestic Violence: The law in all parts of the kingdom criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence. The penalty in the kingdom is imprisonment not exceeding 12 years, a fine not exceeding 78,000 euros ($85,800), or both. In case of violence against a spouse, the penalty for various forms of abuse can be increased by one-third. Authorities effectively prosecuted such crimes.
According to a 2011 government-commissioned study, more than 200,000 persons per year were victims of some sort of domestic violence, including abuse and honor-related violence. The majority of cases involved psychological abuse. The police registered more than 95,000 reports of domestic violence in 2014. Approximately 90 percent of the perpetrators, but less than 25 percent of the victims, were men. The average prison sentence for a convicted rapist was 19.5 months.
In 2014 the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport increased funding to counter domestic violence and support victims. The main national project was Safe Home, a knowledge and reporting center for domestic abuse. Since 2012 Safe Home has run a national multimedia campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence and direct survivors to the proper institutions for assistance. The center has a national 24/7 hotline for persons affected by domestic violence. In June the government published a manual for field workers and local government employees on implementing temporary restraining orders in domestic violence cases. The government supported the organization Movisie, which assisted domestic and sexual violence survivors, trained police and first-line responders, and maintained a website on preventing domestic violence.
No official statistics were available regarding the incidence of rape, domestic violence, or sexual harassment in Sint Maarten, Aruba, or Curacao. Aruban law recognizes domestic violence as a specific offense. A person convicted of stalking may be sentenced or fined. A judge may impose a restraining order if a person is found guilty of stalking or assault. In Sint Maarten the Safe Haven foundation collaborated with government agencies in cases pertaining to women and children, especially in abuse cases. In Curacao the Victims Assistance Bureau continued a “stop abuse” public information campaign and published articles in its free newspaper, Tasina, to raise awareness of domestic violence.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C for women and girls, and the maximum penalty for FGM/C is 12 years in prison. According to a 2013 government-funded study conducted by the Pharos Center of Expertise on Health for Migrants and Refugees, based on 2012 data, an estimated 40 to 50 girls residing in the Netherlands are at risk of FGM/C annually. Approximately 80 percent of the girls who are at risk originated in Egypt, Somalia, Ethiopia/Eritrea, and Kurdish Iraq. The study noted that, for a number of these girls, the risk of FGM/C was real only when they visited their home countries.
Doctors have a protocol on how to assist a victim and how to report threats of FGM/C to Safe Home, a knowledge and reporting center for domestic violence and child abuse. Safe Home has the legal obligation to investigate reports of child abuse and can refer cases to law enforcement. The Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport continued funding for the Pharos Center to run a project to prevent and counter FGM/C that included conducting research, improving medical procedures for victims, and training professionals on how to deal with the problem. Pharos also operated Focal Point, which functioned as a FGM/C knowledge hub for aid workers, law enforcement agencies, policy advisors, and others.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: The National Expertise Center for Honor-Related Violence, part of the police force, received 460 reports of honor-related violence in 2014. A 2014 study by several NGOs and a university concluded that each year, hundreds of forced marriages and related marital abuses take place among immigrant communities in the Netherlands. Honor-related violence is treated as “regular violence” for the purposes of prosecution, and there is no separate offense category or penalty for this type of violence. Laws against honor-based violence were enforced effectively, and victims were permitted to enter a specialized shelter. In January the government began implementing an action program, Self Determination 2015-17, under which authorities were allocated one million euros ($1.1 million) annually to counter forced marriage and honor-related violence.
Sexual Harassment: The laws penalize acts of sexual harassment. The law was enforced effectively. The law requires employers to protect employees against aggression, violence, and sexual intimidation. Complaints against employers who fail to provide sufficient protection can be submitted to the Netherlands Institute for Human Rights. Victims of sexual assault or rape in the workplace must report the incidents to police as criminal offenses. The Curacao government has a policy against sexual harassment and a procedure to report violations. Sexual harassment is illegal in Sint Maarten, but there were no indications that the Sint Maarten government took measures specifically designed to discourage it. Aruba has a law explicitly forbidding sexual harassment in the workplace.
Reproductive Rights: The kingdom’s governments recognized the right of couples and individuals to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children, manage their reproductive health, and to have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.
Discrimination: Under the law, women throughout the kingdom have the same legal status and rights as men, including rights under family, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance law and in the judicial system. The government actively worked to combat discrimination. The law requires equal pay for equal work. There were reports of discrimination in employment (see section 7.d.).