Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and sets penalties between five and 50 years in prison. Police had minimal training or capacity to investigate sexual crimes or assist survivors of such crimes, and the government did not enforce the law effectively. Full investigation and prosecution of domestic violence and rape cases took an average of one year. Impunity for perpetrators remained very high. Rape survivors frequently did not report crimes due to lack of confidence in the justice system, social stigma, and fear of reprisal.
Rape and other sexual offenses remained serious problems. According to the Public Ministry, there were 11,449 reports of sexual or physical assault through October. During the same period, there were 527 convictions for sexual or physical assault on women.
The government took steps to combat femicide and violence against women. It maintained the PNC’s Special Unit for Sex Crimes, the Office of Attention to Victims, the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Crimes against Women, and a special unit for trafficking in persons and illegal adoptions within the Special Prosecutor’s Office for Organized Crime. The judiciary maintained a 24-hour court in Guatemala City to offer services related to violence directed toward women, including sexual assault, exploitation, and trafficking of women and children. The judiciary also operated Specialized Courts for Violence against Women in seven locations.
The law establishes penalties of five to eight years for physical, economic, and psychological violence committed against women because of their gender. Violence against women, including domestic violence, remained a serious problem. The law prohibits domestic abuse, allows for the issuance of restraining orders against alleged aggressors and police protection for victims, and requires the PNC to intervene in violent situations in the home. The PNC often failed to respond to requests for assistance related to domestic violence, however, and women’s rights advocates reported that few officers received training to deal with domestic violence or assist survivors.
Femicide affected women and girls and remained a major problem. Sexual assault, torture, and mutilation were evident in most killings. The government’s national forensics agency reported 501 violent deaths of women through the end of August, compared with 507 deaths reported in all of 2014. In 2013 (the latest year for which data was available), authorities convicted 41 individuals for femicide, compared with 18 the year before. NGOs noted the severity of sentences was not always appropriate to the crime.
The Institute of Public Criminal Defense provides free legal, medical, and psychological assistance to survivors of domestic violence.
The government’s Program for the Prevention and Eradication of Intrafamily Violence, under the Secretariat of Social Work, reported receiving an average of five calls daily from battered women and children. International Organization for Migration surveys indicated domestic violence was a significant push factor for unaccompanied child migrants. In a 2015 survey by Vanderbilt University, 58 percent of respondents expressed tolerance for domestic violence in the case of infidelity. The Public Ministry reported 29,128 complaints of intrafamily violence against women and children as of July 31. The government reported 141 convictions in cases of intrafamily violence against women and children as of the end of September.
The Office of the Ombudsman for Indigenous Women within COPREDEH provided social services for survivors of domestic or social violence, as well as mediation, conflict resolution, and legal services for indigenous women. The office also coordinated and promoted action by government institutions and NGOs to prevent violence and discrimination against indigenous women, but it lacked human resources and logistical capacity to perform its functions on a national level. The office maintained no statistics on its caseload.
Although the law affords protection, including shelter, to victims of domestic violence, there were insufficient facilities for this purpose. The Ministry of Government operated eight shelters for survivors of abuse in departments with the greatest incidence of domestic violence. Several other shelters operated in cities and the countryside, funded by private donors or municipal governments. Many of the centers provided legal and psychological support and temporary accommodation.
Sexual Harassment: The law does not prohibit sexual harassment, and there were no reliable estimates of the frequency of its occurrence. Human rights organizations reported sexual harassment was widespread across all sectors.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children and to manage their reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. They did not always have the information and means to do so. While the government provided access to family planning information and sex education through the public health system, provision of health services in remote areas and in indigenous languages was limited.
Cultural, geographic, and linguistic barriers hampered access to reproductive health care, particularly for indigenous women in rural areas. Discriminatory attitudes among health-care providers and a lack of culturally sensitive reproductive and maternal health-care services deterred many indigenous women from accessing these services. The maternal mortality rate declined in recent years--to 88 deaths per 100,000 live births, according to the World Health Organization’s most recent estimate. The principal causes of maternal mortality included limited access to skilled health-care attendants, early pregnancy, and in some instances poor prenatal and postnatal care. The latest UN Population Agency data estimated that skilled health personnel attended 51 percent of births. Skilled emergency health care for women was limited, including services for the management of complications arising from abortion.
Discrimination: The law establishes the principle of gender equality and criminalizes discrimination, but women faced discrimination, particularly in family and labor law, and were less likely to hold management positions. Women found employment primarily in low-wage jobs in agriculture, retail businesses, the service sector, textile and apparel industries, and government. Women also obtained employment more frequently in the informal sector, where pay was generally lower and benefits nonexistent. The 2014 Global Gender Gap Report estimated earned income of women was 58 percent that of men, and women on average received 64 percent of men’s salaries for comparable work. Women may legally own, manage, and inherit property on an equal basis with men, including in situations involving divorce.
The government’s Secretariat for Women’s Affairs advises the president on interagency coordination of policies affecting women and their development. Several NGOs working on women’s issues reported the secretariat maintained a low profile and was not as engaged with members of civil society as it had been in the past.