An official website of the United States Government Here's how you know

Official websites use .gov

A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS

A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Liechtenstein

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is a criminal offense. Penalties for rape and sexual violence vary between six months’ and 15 years’ imprisonment, depending on the degree of violence and humiliation of the victim, and between 10 years’ and lifetime imprisonment if the victim is killed. The government effectively prosecuted individuals accused of such crimes.

The law prohibits all forms of domestic violence and provides for restraining orders against violent family members. Police may prohibit an abuser from returning to the victim’s home where the violence was committed. Penalties for domestic violence range from monetary fines to lifetime imprisonment if the victim is killed. According to the law, victims who migrated to the country and who have been married to a citizen for less than five years are required to prove their victim status or sufficient integration into the country’s society to avoid losing their marriage-based residence permits. The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) noted in 2018 that the country’s only women’s shelter, Frauenhaus, was not allowed to accept undocumented women fleeing domestic violence. According to the Women’s Network, victims who were unable to present witnesses in court risked the dismissal of criminal proceedings against their perpetrators. The government enforced the law effectively.

There were reports of violence against women, including spousal abuse. In 2018 Frauenhaus assisted 16 women and 17 children. The shelter continued to observe a decrease in restraining orders issued by authorities and stated their care for victims had become more complex and time intensive due to victims’ suffering increased psychological trauma.

In January the criminal court sentenced a 30-year-old man to 12 years in prison for attempted murder and inflicting serious bodily harm when he beat his wife unconscious after the couple, with their seven-month-old child, returned from visiting friends in June 2018. The attack resulted in the victim’s partial paralysis and loss of speech. The case received widespread media attention.

In July authorities established a threat management position within the police force to allocate more resources and expertise to domestic violence cases.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is illegal and punishable by up to six months in prison or a fine, and the government effectively enforced these prohibitions. Stalking is a criminal offense. The government also considers “mobbing,” including pressure, harassment, or blackmail tactics in the workplace, to be a crime. In 2018 the national police recorded six cases of sexual harassment, and the women’s resource and counseling NGO Infra assisted in 16 cases of sexual harassment.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal rights as men. The government’s enforcement of the labor contract law and equal opportunity law was not entirely effective. The Liechtenstein Human Rights Association (LHRA) and the Women’s Network stated that a lack of human and financial resources as well as inadequate strategies and competencies prevented the Department for Equal Opportunity from effectively enforcing the law. The Women’s Network asserted that the government increasingly relinquished its responsibilities regarding equal opportunity policies to NGOs.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived at birth from a child’s parents. Either parent may convey citizenship. A child born in the country to stateless parents may acquire citizenship after five years of residence. All children are registered at birth.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage for both girls and boys is 18 years.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the prostitution of minors. Penalties for the sexual exploitation of minors range from one to 10 years’ imprisonment. Possession or distribution of child pornography is a criminal offense, with penalties including up to three years in prison. Authorities effectively enforced these prohibitions. In 2018 the national police recorded five cases of child sexual exploitation. The law sets the minimum age for consensual sex at 14.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Luxembourg

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and the government enforced the law effectively. Penalties for violations range from five to 10 years’ imprisonment. The law prohibits domestic violence, and the government effectively enforced the law. The law is gender neutral and provides for the removal of abusers from their residences for a 14-day period that can be extended once for an additional three months upon request of the victim. Penalties may include fines and imprisonment. Police are required to investigate if an NGO reports having been approached by an individual for assistance in cases involving domestic abuse.

On August 10, a 40-year-old woman died after her boyfriend reportedly beat her severely. According to the national daily Tageblatt, police officers had intervened the day before, removing the boyfriend from the couple’s residence. As of October the boyfriend remained in custody awaiting trial.

The government funded organizations that provided shelter, counseling, psychosocial assistance, and hotlines. Three separate hotlines were available to assist men, women, and children who were victims of domestic abuse. The government provided financial assistance to domestic violence victims.

In 2018 authorities investigated 122 accusations of indecent assault and 76 cases of rape, representing modest decreases from 2017. In 2018 police intervened 739 times in domestic violence situations, and prosecutors authorized 231 evictions of the abuser from the domestic home as a result of these incidents; these were increases from the prior year. The Minister of Equality between Women and Men stated that authorities were unable to determine if this increase was due to growth in the number of incidents or in reports.

In November-December 2018, the Ministry of Equality between Women and Men helped fund events to raise awareness of violence against women in conjunction with the “Orange Week” campaign against such violence. Campaign events included public exhibitions, film screenings, and panel discussions. During the week the ministry also launched an awareness campaign in conjunction with the country’s ratification of the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combatting violence against women and domestic violence.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment and requires employers to protect employees from such harassment. The law prohibits gender-based job discrimination and harassment of subordinates by superiors. Disciplinary measures against offenders, including dismissal, are applicable. The law considers an employer’s failure to take measures to protect employees from sexual harassment a breach of contract, and an affected employee is entitled to paid leave until the situation is rectified.

Between June 17 and July 7, the Ministry of Equality between Women and Men conducted a public survey to help draft the new national action plan on equality. The survey revealed that 74 percent of women and 61 percent of men considered combatting sexual harassment a priority. At the same time, 77 percent of women and men considered awareness-raising programs in schools as the best method to combat sexual harassment.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. The government enforced the law effectively.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship is governed by the principle of descent, according to which a father or mother who is a citizen automatically conveys citizenship to offspring at birth. The law allows for citizenship via naturalization and allows dual citizenship. Citizenship for minor children is automatically conveyed when a parent naturalizes. All residents, regardless of citizenship, are required to register in their commune of residence.

Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum legal age for marriage is 18 but can be waived by a guardianship judge. In its 2017 report, the country’s Ombudsman Committee for the Rights of Children noted that forced marriage had become a problem as a result of immigration, but no official data on it was available.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children, the sale of children, the offering or procuring of a child for child prostitution, and practices related to child pornography. Authorities enforced the law, and cases were rare. Penalties for the sexual exploitation of children range from five years’ to life imprisonment.

Amendments to the penal code provide that a client having consciously committed a commercial sexual act with a minor can be sentenced to one to five years of imprisonment and a fine of 251 to 50,000 euros ($280 to $55,000).

The minimum legal age for consensual sex is 16.

Displaced Children: In 2018 the Immigration Directorate noted there were 36 asylum requests for unaccompanied children, down from the 50 requests it received in 2017. There were three specialized housing shelters specifically for unaccompanied children and two shelters that also accepted unaccompanied children; the government placed unaccompanied children in these shelters whenever feasible.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Mauritius

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, but there is no provision criminalizing spousal rape, unless it is sodomy. Police and the judicial system did not effectively enforce the law, according to local NGOs that work with domestic violence victims. The penalty for rape is up to 20 years’ imprisonment, with a fine not exceeding 200,000 rupees ($5,555). Rape cases rarely make the headlines, unless they are egregious in nature.

The law criminalizes domestic violence, but it remained a major problem. On September 7, media reported 32-year-old Stephanie Menes was found dead in her house after her husband beat her. Her hands and feet were tied with a rope. Amendments to the Protection from Domestic Violence Act (PDVA) effective in 2016 establish a list of offenses separate from the criminal code, which was not the case prior to the amendment. The amendments redefine the term “spouse” to include unmarried couples of the opposite sex; redefine “domestic violence” to include verbal, psychological, economic, and sexual abuses; and empower police officers and enforcement officers to act on behalf of the victims instead of waiting for a formal complaint from the victim. Although the amendments do not mention spousal rape, section 2.d. stipulates that a spouse cannot force or threaten the other partner into a sexual act “from which the spouse or the other person has the right to abstain.”

Domestic violence activists stated police did not effectively enforce the law. According to women’s rights NGOs, police were not always effective in protecting domestic violence survivors to whom authorities had granted court protection orders. Authorities prosecuted crimes including assault, aggravated assault, threats, and blows under the criminal code, but law enforcement recordkeeping did not always indicate whether they were linked to domestic violence.

The law provides for protection and housing rights for victims, as well as counseling for the abuser; however, counseling for the abuser is not mandatory, and there were few shelters available to house survivors. Anyone found guilty of violating a protection order under the PDVA may be fined up to 50,000 rupees ($1,373) or first-time offenders may be imprisoned for up to one year. Under the newly amended PDVA, the penalty is 100,000 rupees ($2,747) and imprisonment not to exceed two years for a second offense and up to five years’ imprisonment for subsequent offenses. In June 2018 the government launched a new mobile phone application, the Family Welfare app, to facilitate reporting of domestic violence and child abuse. As of December there was one case of domestic violence reported through the new application.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, which is punishable by up to two years’ imprisonment. Generally, however, sexual harassment continued to be a problem due to lax enforcement and because victims often did not believe filing a complaint would resolve anything.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Discrimination: Men and women enjoy the same legal status and rights under the constitution and law. The courts upheld these rights. Nonetheless, cultural and societal barriers prevented women from fully exercising their legal rights.

Children

Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship by birth within the country’s territory if one or both parents are citizens of the country. Authorities register births, and the law provides for late registration. Failure to register births resulted in denial of some public services.

Child Abuse: The law criminalizes certain acts compromising the health, security, or morality of a child, although the government was unable to ensure complete compliance, such as in child labor cases. NGOs asserted child abuse was more widespread than the government acknowledged publicly or than actually reported to authorities.

Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum legal marriage age for boys and girls is 16 with parental consent, but marriages of younger children were reported. For example, in June 2018 the investigation into the death of a 13-year-old who died of epilepsy revealed she had been married since January to a 19-year-old man, with her parents’ consent, and that the religious marriage was not registered as the law requires.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits child pornography and provides for a maximum penalty of 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine not exceeding 100,000 rupees ($2,747) for each offense. The law prohibits all forms of child sex trafficking and provides for a maximum penalty of 30 years’ imprisonment. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16. The penalty for rape is imprisonment for up to 20 years and a fine not exceeding 200,000 rupees ($5,494). In addition, the Judicial Provisions Act of 2008 prescribes punishment for child trafficking offenses of up to 30 years’ imprisonment.

The government assisted victims of child abuse by offering counseling at a drop-in center in Port Louis and referring victims to government-supported NGO shelters. Both medical treatment and psychological support were available at public clinics and NGO centers.

Institutionalized Children: The law provides that a simple oath before a magistrate allows parents to have their children placed in the care of the Rehabilitation of Youth Center (RYC) on the basis that they are “children beyond control.” Once admitted to the RYC, the children, some as young as eight or nine, could remain in detention until they reached the age of 18. There were allegations children held in the Correctional Youth Center did not have access to education during their detention and imprisonment.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Monaco

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is a criminal offense with penalties of five to 20 years in prison, depending on the type of offense. The law prohibits spousal abuse, and victims may bring criminal charges against abusive spouses. According to the Association of Assistance to Victims of Offenses, a Monaco-based nongovernmental organization that supports victims of domestic violence, there were 50 cases of domestic or family violence as of October. Six victims out of 50 decided to lodge an official complaint. On August 22, a woman was stabbed by her husband. She was seriously injured but survived. Her husband, a citizen of the country, was arrested and charged with attempted murder.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is a criminal offense with penalties of three months to three years in prison, depending on the type of offense. There were no reports of sexual harassment during the year.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Discrimination: The law provides for the equality of men and women. The government enforced the law effectively.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship may be transmitted by a citizen parent. The government registered births immediately.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage in the country is 18 for women and men. Children younger than age 18 need parental authorization to marry.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Child prostitution and child pornography are illegal, and authorities enforced the law. The minimum legal age for consensual sex is 15.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Nauru

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape is a crime and carries a maximum penalty of 25 years’ imprisonment. The law specifically applies penalties for rape of married and de facto partners. Police are required to investigate all reported rape cases. They generally did so, and the courts prosecuted cases. Observers said many instances of rape and sexual abuse went unreported. The law does not address domestic violence specifically, but authorities prosecuted domestic violence cases under laws against common assault. The maximum penalty for simple assault is one year’s imprisonment. The maximum penalty for assault involving bodily harm is three years’ imprisonment.

Both police and judiciary treated major incidents and unresolved family disputes seriously.

Human Rights Watch reported that female refugees faced sexual assault and sexual harassment, yet such cases often were not reported to police.

The government did not maintain statistics on the physical or domestic abuse of women, but police officials stated they received frequent complaints of domestic violence. Families normally sought to reconcile such problems informally and, if necessary, communally.

Sexual Harassment: There is no specific law against sexual harassment, but authorities could and did prosecute harassment involving physical assault under assault laws.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women and men, including under family, religious, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. Discrimination in employment and wages occurred with respect to women (see section 7.d.).

Children

Birth Registration: Children derive citizenship if one of their parents is a citizen. The constitution also provides for acquisition of citizenship by birth in the country in cases in which the person would otherwise be stateless. The law requires registration of births within 21 days to receive citizenship, and families generally complied with the law.

Child Abuse: The government does not maintain data on child abuse, but it remained a problem, according to civil society groups. The law establishes comprehensive measures, including mandatory reporting, to protect children from child abuse.

Early and Forced Marriage: The law prohibits marriage by persons younger than age 18.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children, the sale of children, offering or procuring a child for child prostitution, and practices related to child pornography. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16. There are standardized penalties for sexual exploitation of children; intentional sexual intercourse with a child younger than age 16 is punishable by 25 years’ imprisonment. Sexual intercourse with a child younger than age 13 carries a penalty of life imprisonment.

The law establishes penalties for taking images of children’s private acts and genitalia. If the child is younger than age 16, the maximum penalty is 10 years’ imprisonment, and if younger than age 13, 15 years’ imprisonment. The same law prescribes even tougher penalties for involving children to produce pornographic material. The maximum penalty if the child is younger than age 16 is 15 years’ imprisonment and 20 years’ imprisonment if the child is younger than age 13. The cybercrime law outlaws the electronic publication and transmission of child pornography.

International Child Abductions: The country is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Netherlands

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law in all parts of the kingdom criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence. The penalty in the Netherlands for rape is imprisonment not exceeding 12 years or a fine not exceeding 83,000 euros ($91,300). In case of violence against a spouse, the penalty for various forms of abuse can be increased by one-third. In Aruba the penalty for rape is imprisonment not exceeding 12 years or a fine of 100,000 Aruban florins ($55,250). Authorities effectively prosecuted such crimes.

The Dutch government continued funding for Safe Home, a knowledge hub and reporting center for domestic abuse with 26 regional branches, as the national platform to prevent domestic violence and support victims. The center operated a national 24/7 hotline for persons affected by domestic violence. The government supported the organization Movisie, which assisted survivors of domestic and sexual violence, trained police and first responders, and maintained a website on preventing domestic violence.

Other Harmful Traditional Practices: Honor-related violence is treated as regular violence for the purposes of prosecution and does not constitute a separate offense category. Laws against violence were enforced effectively in honor-related violence cases, and victims were permitted to enter a specialized shelter.

Sexual Harassment: The law penalizes acts of sexual harassment throughout the kingdom and was enforced effectively. The penalty in the Netherlands is imprisonment not exceeding eight years or a fine not exceeding 83,000 euros ($91,300). The law requires employers to protect employees against aggression, violence, and sexual intimidation. In the Netherlands complaints against employers who failed to provide sufficient protection can be submitted to the NIHR. Victims of sexual assault or rape in the workplace can report the incidents to police as criminal offenses.

In Curacao the Stichting Slachtofferhulp (Victims Assistance Foundation) assists the victims.

In Sint Maarten no central institution handles sexual harassment cases. According to the law, substantive civil servant law integrity counselors must be appointed for each ministry. These integrity counselors advise the civil servants on integrity issues. The responsible minister must act on the complaint.

Aruban law states the employer shall ensure the employee is not sexually harassed in the workplace. Employers are required to keep the workplace free from harassment by introducing policies and enforcing them. Sint Maarten and Curacao also have laws prohibiting stalking.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Discrimination: Under the law women throughout the kingdom have the same legal status and rights as men, including under family, religious, personal status, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. The government enforced the law effectively, although there were some reports of discrimination in employment.

Children

Birth Registration: Citizenship can be derived from either the mother or the father, but not through birth on the country’s territory. Births are registered promptly.

Child Abuse: There are laws against child abuse. The penalties depend on the details and context of the case and can reach up to 12 years in prison. A multidisciplinary task force in the Netherlands acts as a knowledge hub and facilitates interagency cooperation in combatting child abuse and sexual violence. The children’s ombudsman headed an independent bureau that safeguards children’s rights and calls attention to abuse. Physicians are required to report child abuse to authorities. In February the Dutch government started a public awareness campaign on child abuse which encouraged witnesses to report suspicious cases to police.

Aruba has a child abuse-reporting center. In Curacao physicians are not required to report to authorities instances of abuse they encounter, but hospital officials reported indications of child abuse to authorities. In Sint Maarten the penal code addresses serious offenses against public morality, abandonment of dependent persons, serious offenses against human life, and assault that apply to child abuse cases.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 18 in all parts of the kingdom. In the Netherlands and Aruba, there are two exceptions: if the persons concerned are older than 16 and the girl is pregnant or has given birth, or if the minister of justice and security in the Netherlands or the minister of justice in Aruba grants a dispensation based on the parties’ request.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: Throughout the kingdom, the law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children as well as production, possession, and distribution of child pornography, and authorities enforced the law. The minimum age of consent is 16 in the Netherlands, Curacao, and Aruba and 15 in Sint Maarten. The Netherlands is a source country of child sex tourists. The government ran campaigns to encourage travelers to report suspicions of child sex tourism. An offender can be tried in the Netherlands even if the offense takes place abroad.

International Child Abductions: The kingdom is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

New Zealand

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: Rates of reported violence against women were at historic high levels, according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Ministry of Justice data shows there were 2,605 convictions for sexual offenses in 2018-19, up from 2,172 in 2009-10. According to a 2016 government report, one in three women reported having experienced physical or sexual violence or both by an intimate partner. The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape. The maximum penalty is 20 years’ imprisonment; however, indefinite detention may occur in cases where the parole board, during its annual review, believes the prisoner poses a continuing threat to society.

Domestic violence is a criminal offense. Police were responsive to reports of domestic violence. The law provides victims with 10 days of paid domestic violence leave. The government partially funded women’s shelters, psychosocial services, rape crisis centers, sexual abuse counseling, family violence victim support networks, and violence prevention services. Victims’ programs include: a new crisis response plan for the 72 hours after a sexual assault; programs to reduce harmful sexual behavior, offending, and reoffending; programs focusing on adults who pose a risk to children; and services for male survivors of sexual abuse.

The E Tu Whanau program is a Maori-centered response, supported by government social services resources, to high levels of violence within Maori homes, which aims to increase protective factors and decrease risk factors for family violence.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment and provides civil penalties. Sexual contact induced by certain threats may also fall under the criminal code, with a maximum prison sentence of 14 years. In July the HRC released an updated guide on making a complaint about sexual harassment, which includes access to the HRC’s free, informal, and confidential service for questions or complaints about sexual harassment and unlawful discrimination. The HRC also published fact sheets on sexual harassment and made regular sexual harassment prevention training available to schools, businesses, and government departments.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women and men, including under family, religious, personal status, labor, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. Although the law prohibits discrimination in employment and requires equal rates of pay for equal or similar work, academics and watchdog groups argue that the lack of pay transparency hinders pursuing pay discrimination claims.

Children

Birth Registration: Children born in the country attain citizenship if either parent is a citizen or legal permanent resident of the country. Children born outside the country attain citizenship if either parent is a citizen born in the country. The law requires notification of births by both parents as soon as “reasonably practicable,” deemed as being within two months of the child’s birth, and most births were registered within this period.

Child Abuse: A 2018 Auckland University of Technology report found that, by age 17, nearly one-quarter of children had at least one report submitted to child protection services, and almost 10 percent had been a victim of abuse or neglect, while 3 percent had gone into foster or other care. A disproportionately high number of reported cases of child abuse involved Maori children. The government promoted information sharing between the courts and health and child protection agencies to identify children at risk of abuse.

Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 for both men and women, but persons between 16 and 18 may marry with family court approval. Marriages involving persons younger than 18 were rare. Watchdog groups believed that a small number of marriages of persons between 16 and 18 were forced by parents. To reduce these, the parliament passed a law in May 2018 requiring family court approval of marriages involving a person younger than 18.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law provides that any person who has a sexual connection with a person younger than age 16 is liable to a maximum prison sentence of 10 years. Further, the law makes it an offense punishable by seven years’ imprisonment to assist a person younger than 18 in providing commercial sexual services; to receive earnings from commercial sexual services provided by a person younger than 18; or to contract for commercial sexual services from, or be a client of, a person younger than 18. The law also makes it an offense to traffic in persons younger than 18 for sexual exploitation or for forced labor. The courts may prosecute citizens who commit child sex offenses overseas.

Government statistics reported 422 convictions in 2018-19 for sexual offenses against children younger than age 16, approximately the same number as a decade before.

The law prohibits child pornography and provides for a maximum 14 years’ imprisonment, as well as maximum individual and corporate fines of NZ$200,000 ($129,000) if a person produces, imports, supplies, distributes, possesses for supply, displays, or exhibits an objectionable publication. The Department of Internal Affairs Censorship Compliance Unit polices images of child sex abuse on the internet and prosecutes offenders.

Institutionalized Children: In 2018 Prime Minister Ardern announced the creation of a Royal Commission–the highest level of governmental inquiry–into the historical abuse of children in state care. The inquiry is expected to be completed by November 2023, later than originally intended due to its scope being expanded to include abuses in faith-based institutions. The Royal Commission is tasked with focusing on physical, sexual, and emotional abuse and neglect, as well as systemic bias based on race, gender, or sexual orientation during the period 1950-1999.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Panama

Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons

Women

Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, including spousal rape, with prison terms of five to 10 years. Rapes continued to constitute the majority of sexual crimes investigated by the National Police Directorate of Judicial Investigation. Eighty percent of the victims were women and 63 percent of those were younger than 17.

The law against gender violence stipulates stiff penalties for harassment and both physical and emotional abuse. The law states that sentencing for femicide is a mandatory 25 to 30 years in prison. Officials and civil society organizations agreed that domestic violence continued to be a serious crime. The PNP Specialized Unit for Domestic and Gender Violence created in 2018 continued to have 190 agents trained to work these cases. In June, Roberto Moreno Grajales was convicted and sentenced to 30 years prison for the 2016 killing of his former girlfriend, Diosila Martinez. He had originally fled to Costa Rica after the killing but was extradited in 2018 to Panama.

The Ombudsman’s Office continued its program Mujer Conoce tus Derechos (Woman, Know Your Rights), which included a wide distribution of flyers. In May the National Institute for Women’s Affairs (INAMU) established 24/7 hotline 182 to give legal guidance to victims of domestic violence. If the caller was at risk during the call, the operator would make a connection with the police.

Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment in cases of employer-employee relations in the public and private sectors and in teacher-student relations. Violators face a maximum three-year prison sentence. The extent of the problem was difficult to determine, because convictions for sexual harassment were rare, pre-employment sexual harassment was not actionable, and there was a lack of formal reports. During the year the Ministry of Labor, UN Development Program, and NGO SUMARSE began to develop a protocol for private sector employers on how to investigate and deal with labor and sexual harassment within companies.

Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.

Discrimination: The law prohibits discrimination based on gender, and women enjoyed the same legal status and rights as men. The law recognizes joint property in marriages. The law mandates equal pay for men and women in equivalent jobs. Although an illegal hiring practice, some employers continued to request pregnancy tests. There were two cases reported in the countryside of temporary workers who terminated their pregnancies once the condition became obvious, presumably due to fear of being fired.

Children

Birth Registration: The law provides citizenship for all persons born in the country, but parents of children born in remote areas sometimes had difficulty obtaining birth registration certificates.

Child Abuse: Child abuse is illegal. The law has several articles pertaining to child abuse and its penalties, which depend on the type of abuse and range from six months to 20 years’ imprisonment if the abuse falls under a crime that carries a higher penalty. Public Ministry statistics as of August reported that 2,090 children were victims of different types of abuse; the Public Ministry believed this figure was underreported. The Ministry of Social Development maintained a free hotline for children and adults to report child abuse and advertised it widely. The ministry provided funding to children’s shelters operated by NGOs and continued a program that used pamphlets in schools to sensitize teachers, children, and parents about mistreatment and sexual abuse of children.

Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum legal age for marriage is 18. The government prohibits early marriage even with parental permission.

Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation, sale, and offering for prostitution of children, in addition to child pornography. Officials from the Ministry for Public Security continued to prosecute cases of sexual abuse of children, including within indigenous communities. Ministry officials believed that commercial sexual exploitation of children occurred, including in tourist areas in Panama City and in beach communities, although they did not keep separate statistics. In September, seven Panamanians were detained for their connections to an international child pornography ring based in Brazil. For two and one-half months, Panama and Brazil worked together with authorities in El Salvador, Paraguay, Chile, Ecuador, and other foreign countries to capture and imprison the individuals responsible for this child pornography ring as part of Operation Luz de la Infancia.

International Child Abductions: The country is a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.

Human Rights Reports
Edit Your Custom Report

01 / Select A Year

02 / Select Sections

03 / Select Countries You can add more than one country or area.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future