Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape. The law allows for sentences of two to 12 years’ imprisonment for a person found guilty of rape, and the law was effectively enforced. The Ministry of Interior reported 114 cases of rape and 13 cases of homicide due to domestic violence in 2014.
The law criminalizes domestic violence, including physical, psychological, and sexual violence, but survivors without severe injuries often did not file complaints. Survivors of domestic violence requiring hospitalization were more likely to receive follow-up assistance from healthcare providers and police authorities.
The law allows for sentences of six months’ to two years’ imprisonment for a person found guilty of committing an act of violence or making continued threats of violence. Civil courts decided most of the domestic cases during the year. Judges in these cases often issued restraining orders, which were difficult to enforce. The judiciary and the Ministry of the Interior expanded the use of electronic bracelets with GPS for perpetrators of domestic violence to include the provinces of San Jose, Canelones, Maldonado, Colonia, and Florida. The double-bracelet sets (one bracelet for the victim and one for the aggressor) track distance between the perpetrator and victim. The program included awareness training for judges.
The Ministry of Social Development (MIDES), some police headquarters in the interior, INAU, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operated shelters where abused women and their children could seek temporary refuge. All services were funded and staffed according to the reported prevalence of domestic violence in each location; nonetheless, NGOs and government actors reported that these shelters were often overcrowded. The Montevideo municipal government and the state-owned telephone company, Antel, funded a free nationwide hotline operated by trained NGO employees for survivors of domestic violence.
In November the government launched the 2016-19 action plan “For a Life Free of Gender Violence with a Generational View,” which aims to consolidate a national policy to reduce gender violence and provide restitution to victims. The plan provides for an interagency response system for violence prevention, access to justice, victim protection and attention, and punishment of defendants. It also promotes social and cultural awareness and provides for sensitizing and training public servants to deal with gender violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and punishes it by fines or dismissal. The law establishes guidelines for the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace, as well as in student-professor relations, and provides damages for survivors.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence.
Discrimination: By law women enjoy the same legal status and rights as men, including rights under family, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. Women, however, faced discrimination in employment, pay, credit, education, housing, and business ownership. The law does not require equal pay for equal work. In May the UN Development Program presented a study on unequal opportunities in the labor market related to educational level and gender. The report concluded that, despite having higher educational levels, women, who represent 63 percent of the formal workforce, continued to earn less than men.