Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and the government generally enforced the law effectively. The penalty for rape is six to 12 years in prison. The law also prohibits violence against women, and independent media and government agencies generally paid close attention to gender-based violence. The law sets prison sentences of six months to a year for domestic violence, threats of violence, or violations of restraining orders, with longer sentences if serious injuries result.
According to the government’s Delegate for Gender Violence, by June 30 partners or former partners killed 17 women. The delegate noted that only three of the women killed had reported abuse prior to their deaths. According to the General Council of the Judiciary, of the 45,955 cases of gender violence prosecuted in 2014, 28,075 resulted in guilty verdicts (67 percent of the total). The Observatory against Domestic and Gender Violence reported 30,293 complaints of gender-based violence in the first three months of the year.
Figures released by the Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality listed 54 of the 88 killings in 2014 (61 percent) as gender-based violence. National homicide statistics through March--the latest month for which countrywide homicide statistics are available--indicated that gender-based killings represented 12 percent of total killings in the country (eight of 66).
During the year the Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality spent 4.8 million euros ($5.3 million) on awareness campaigns across the country, an increase of 1.5 million euros ($1.7 million) over 2014. This spending did not include local government use of the ministry’s campaign images printed and disseminated at their own expense.
The Secretary of State for Equality operated a digital platform where units working on gender violence could share information, best practices, and documents. More than 50 offices provided legal assistance to victims of domestic violence, and there were more than 454 shelters for battered women. A 24-hour toll-free national hotline advised battered women on finding shelter and other local assistance. The hotline took calls in Spanish, French, German, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Portuguese, Romanian, and Russian. Through June the hotline handled 35,714 telephone calls, approximately 3,400 more than in the same period in 2014. The website for the support and prevention of gender violence received almost 43.6 million visits by June 30.
The UN Human Rights Committee report warned that mostly unreported gender-based violence continued to be a problem in view of the high level of violence suffered by immigrant women from North Africa.
In May, according to the Ministry of the Interior, seven regions and 97 city governments agreed to collaborate in the fight against gender-based violence. Deputy Interior Minister Francisco Martinez, speaking at a signing ceremony in the region of Extremadura, said the initiative sought to help women feel protected by police throughout the country. Local government work would fold into VioGen, a national initiative designed to coordinate local- and national-level efforts to fight gender-based violence and support victims of it.
In April the Ministry of Health, Social Services, and Equality unveiled its 2015 anti-gender-based violence campaign “Say it. There is a way out of gender violence.” In July the Madrid Autonomous Community and the Ministry of the Interior announced that they would share a database to coordinate better the fight against gender-based violence.
On July 8, the Catalan parliament approved the Law for Effective Equality between Women and Men, which created an Observatory of Gender Equality to prioritize the struggle against gender violence.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): The law prohibits FGM/C and authorizes courts to prosecute residents of the country who have committed this crime in the country or anywhere in the world. Under the 2013-16 National Strategy for the Eradication of Violence against Women, doctors must ask parents in the country to sign a declaration promising their daughter(s) will not undergo FGM/C when they visit countries where the practice is common. Once a family returns to the country, a doctor, who can start legal action against the parents if examination finds that the minors underwent FGM/C during their trip, must examine the girl(s) again. Doctors must also inform the parents of the health consequences of FGM/C.
During the year until June 30, police in Catalonia investigated eight cases of FGM/C. A report from the Wassu Foundation at the Autonomous University found that more than 6,000 girls in Catalonia were at risk of being subjected to the practice.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, but harassment reportedly continued to be a problem, although few cases came to trial. The punishment in minor cases can be between three and five months in jail or fines of six to eight months’ salary. In aggravated cases it can be five to seven months’ jail time or fines of 10 to 14 months’ salary. The court can increase penalties for victims the court determines may be especially vulnerable.
The Catalan Law for Effective Equality between Women and Men, adopted on July 8, emphasizes the fight against sexual harassment.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals decide freely the number, spacing, and timing of their children and have the information and means to attain the highest standard of reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.
Discrimination: Under the law women enjoy the same rights as men, including rights under family, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. The law requires equal pay for equal work. According to the labor union General Workers’ Union, women were underrepresented in decision-making positions and paid 22 percent less than men for comparable work (see section 7.d.).
The Catalan Law for Effective Equality between Women and Men, adopted on July 8, calls for equal representation in the public administration, coeducation in schools, equality plans for large businesses, and prohibition of the dissemination of sexist content on government-owned media.