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; women’s rights advocates, however, claimed that the attitudes of police, hospitals, and courts toward survivors of sexual violence sometimes revictimized them. They noted there was a lack of interest in or training for law enforcement officials in protecting survivors or enforcing measures against aggressors, a lack of gender training for legal aid lawyers, and judicial responses that were insufficient to stop domestic violence.
No statistics were available on the number of rape cases reported during the year. Many rapes went unreported due to fear of further violence, retribution, and social stigma.
The law prohibits domestic violence, including spousal abuse; survivors of domestic violence may secure protective measures through the civil courts. 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 their gender. 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 that, from January to October, 223 women died as a result of domestic or gender-based violence. A majority of the killings involved a husband, boyfriend, or former boyfriend. In some cases the woman had filed a complaint against the aggressor for domestic violence. Since 2008 there have been 2,224 reported cases of femicide.
On August 5, a judge sentenced Luis del Milagro Martinez to life imprisonment for killing his wife by strangulation in Oran, Salta Province.
The Supreme Court’s Office of Domestic Violence provided around-the-clock protection and resources to victims of domestic violence. The office received approximately 808 cases of domestic violence in the city of Buenos Aires during the first nine months of the year, approximately 66 percent of which involved violence against women. The office also carried out risk assessments necessary to obtain a restraining order.
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.
On June 3, more than 200,000 people demonstrated against gender-based violence in the city of Buenos Aires. The protest, organized by a coalition of NGOs and civil society, demanded full implementation of the country’s law against femicide, including post-violence counseling and pro bono legal assistance to gender-violence victims as well as student education programs. At year’s end the National Plan for the Eradication of Gender-based Violence was not in force.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the public sector and imposes disciplinary or corrective measures. In some jurisdictions, such as the city of Buenos Aires, 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 have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children, to manage their reproductive health, and to have access to the information and means to do so, 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.
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.