Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence. Penalties range from two to eight years’ imprisonment if the victim is 12 years of age or older and 20 to 24 years’ imprisonment if the victim is under 12. Civil society organizations noted that while the wording of the revised penal code, passed in 2014, covers both vaginal and anal sex, it does not cover other forms of rape such as oral sex and insertion of objects. Legal experts also noted the definition of “intercourse” in the new penal code meant that men could also qualify as victims of rape. The penal code does not allow victims to drop charges for rape when they marry the perpetrator.
According to NGO reports, many families preferred to settle rape allegations through informal community courts or privately through financial remuneration rather than through the formal judicial system. Cases of spousal rape continued to be underreported. Increasing numbers of victims continued to seek assistance from human rights organizations, especially in cases that resulted in HIV infection.
Abuse of a spouse or unmarried partner is punishable with one to two years in prison, or a greater penalty if another crime is also applicable. The government did not effectively enforce the law. NGOs reported that domestic violence against women remained widespread. Maria Luisa, spokeswoman for the Mozambican Association Women, Law, and Development, said cases of domestic violence were rising at a “frightening” level.
Although domestic violence was considered a valid reason to leave a partner, women often had few economic or social alternatives and thus remained with the abuser since many were dependent on the community or family-based (typically agricultural) economy. Many young women also engaged in transactional sex with older, wealthier men in order to survive economically.
With the exception of some ethnic and religious groups, the groom’s family provided a bride price to the bride’s family, usually in the form of money, livestock, or other goods, although this practice had become somewhat less common. Some believed these payments contributed to violence against women and other inequalities due to the perception that husbands owned and paid for their wives. Among Muslims, the bride’s family usually paid for the wedding and provided gifts.
Government agencies and NGOs continued to implement public outreach campaigns to combat violence against women nationwide. Police and NGOs worked together to combat domestic violence. The PRM operated special women’s and children’s units within police precincts that received high numbers of cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and violence against children.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): FGM/C was not a common practice for women or girls in the country. Reliable estimates were lacking on the number of women subjected to FGM/C in recent years; however, NGOs and the government concurred that the incidence was low.
Other Harmful Traditional Practices: The practice of “purification,” whereby a widow is obligated to have unprotected sex with a member of her deceased husband’s family, continued, particularly in rural areas, despite campaigns against it.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is illegal in schools; however, it remained pervasive in business, government, schools, and broadly in society. There is no legislation on sexual harassment in public places outside of schools.
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, and violence. Health-care clinics and local NGOs operated freely and disseminated information on family planning; however, only 12 percent (down from 17 percent in 2004) of girls and women ages 15-49 used modern contraception, according to the World Bank. Rural communities often had limited access to basic health services. Many people in poor communities believed large families enhanced wealth generation.
The country had a maternal mortality rate of 489 deaths per 100,000 live births in 2015, and a woman’s lifetime risk of maternal death was one in 40, according to the UN Population Fund, due in part to poor clinical capacity for obstetric emergencies and a severe lack of doctors (approximately 3,000 for an estimated population of 25 million in 2015) and nurses, particularly in rural areas. Other reasons included poor infrastructure, a high HIV/AIDS rate, high rates of adolescent pregnancy, and poor access to health-care facilities, often resulting in delays in providing medical care.
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women as men; however, it does not specifically require equal pay for equal work, nor does it prohibit discrimination based on gender in hiring. The law also contains provisions that limit excessive physical work or night shift requirements during pregnancy. The law contains special provisions to protect women against abuse; however, many women remained uninformed about the law.
Women continued to experience economic discrimination. Relative gender gaps in education and income remained high. In some regions, particularly the northern provinces, women had limited access to the formal judicial system for enforcement of rights provided under the civil code and instead relied on customary law to settle disputes. Women typically have no rights to inherit land under customary law, leaving women in rural areas particularly vulnerable to property rights discrimination.
Women held a relatively small proportion of private-sector salaried jobs, and they had correspondingly lower social security benefits. Many worked as casual laborers or elsewhere in the informal sector, primarily in subsistence agriculture. Enforcement of laws that protect women’s rights to land ownership remained poor. Forum Mulher continued to note that women’s representation in local and provincial-level bodies continued to lag, while their representation in national decision-making bodies was relatively high.
The parliament has a women’s caucus, composed of members from the three parties with parliamentary seats, which seeks to address issues of gender balance, women’s representation in decision-making bodies, and advocacy of women’s rights.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is obtained by birth in the country or birth to at least one Mozambican parent outside the country. Failure to register a child’s birth may result in the inability to attend school and may prevent one from obtaining public documents, such as identity cards, passports, or “poverty certificates,” which enable access to free health care and free secondary education. Birth registration was often delayed in rural areas. Cultural practices continued to deprive women, especially in rural areas, of their legal right to register their child without the presence of the child’s father.
Education: Although education is compulsory through primary school (grades one to seven), primary school completion remained beyond the means of many families, especially in rural areas. Families must pay for supplies and uniforms despite the fact that school is tuition-free and compulsory through grade seven. According to the government’s 2010 Millennium Development Goals report, despite joint government-NGO initiatives in some localities to improve girls’ school attendance, only 27 percent of girls finished primary school, compared with 40 percent of boys.
Child Abuse: Most child-abuse cases involved sexual or physical abuse. Sexual abuse in schools and in homes continued to be a problem. NGOs remained concerned that certain male teachers used their authority to coerce female students into sex. A UNESCO policy paper published in March 2015 noted approximately 20 percent of school principals said sexual harassment of students by teachers or other pupils occurred at least “sometimes” at their schools.
While the government continued to stress the importance of children’s rights and welfare, significant problems remained. The child protection law contains sections dealing with protection against physical and sexual abuse; removal from parents who are unable to protect, assist, and educate them; and the establishment of juvenile courts to deal with matters of adoption, maintenance, and regulating parental power. Juvenile courts resolved many cases regarding support for children after divorce or the end of a relationship.
Orphans and other vulnerable children remained at high risk of abuse.
Early and Forced Marriage: The law sets the minimum age to marry for both genders at 18. Legal permission to marry at age 16 may be granted with parental consent if “circumstances of recognized public and family interest,” such as pregnancy, exist. According to a 2015 UNICEF report, nationwide 48 percent of young women ages 20-24 married before age 18, and 14 percent of women ages 20-24 married before age 15. The highest rates of early marriage were in the northern provinces of Cabo Delgado and Nampula, where 61 percent and 62 percent of women were married before age 18, respectively. In Niassa, another northern province, 24 percent of young women married before age 15, the highest rate in the country. The government and local NGOs continued to campaign against child marriage.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): See Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) under Women.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. Authorities partially enforced the law, but exploitation of children below age 18 and child prostitution remained problematic. The minimum age for consensual sex is 16. Underage girls were exploited in prostitution in bars, roadside clubs, and restaurants. Child prostitution appeared to be most prevalent in Maputo, Nampula, Beira, border towns, and at overnight stopping points along key transportation routes. Some NGOs provided health care, counseling, and vocational training to children, primarily girls, engaged in prostitution.
Displaced Children: Children from Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Swaziland, many of whom had entered the country alone, remained vulnerable to labor exploitation and discrimination. They lacked protection due to inadequate documentation and had limited access to schools and other social welfare institutions, largely due to lack of resources. Coercion, both physical and economic, of girls into the sex industry was common, particularly in Manica Province.
Child beggars and children selling snacks, who appeared to be living on the streets, remained visible in major urban areas, but no nationwide figures were available. NGOs said many lived in crowded housing with their “bosses” and came from poorer areas in the north.
Several government agencies, including the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Action, continued programs to provide health-care assistance and vocational education for HIV/AIDS orphans and other vulnerable children.
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 travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
The country has a very small Jewish community. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution and law prohibit discrimination against citizens with disabilities; however, the law does not differentiate between physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities in employment, education, air travel and other transportation, access to health care, the judicial system, or the provision of other state services.
The Ministry of Gender, Children, and Social Action is responsible for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. The 2012-19 National Action Plan in the Area of Disabilities provides funding, monitoring, and assessment of implementation by various organizations that support persons with disabilities. Electoral law provides for access and assistance to voters with disabilities in the polling booths, including the right for them to vote first.
The government did not effectively implement laws and programs to provide access to buildings, information, and communications. Discrimination in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of other state services was common. Observers often cited unequal access to employment as one of the biggest concerns. The government did not effectively implement programs to provide access to information and communication for persons with disabilities. Educational opportunities for children with disabilities were generally poor, especially for those with developmental disabilities. The government sometimes referred parents of children with disabilities to private schools with more resources to provide for their children. There were two schools for persons with disabilities: one in Maputo Province and one in Sofala. The Mozambican Association for the Disabled (ADEMO) reported teacher-training programs did not include techniques on how to address the needs of students with disabilities. ADEMO also observed school buildings fell short of international standards for accessibility, and public tenders were not designed to support the participation of persons with disabilities.
The only psychiatric hospital was overwhelmed with patients and did not provide adequate basic nutrition, medicine, or shelter. Doctors also reported many families abandoned family members with disabilities at the hospital. ADEMO reported access to donated equipment, such as wheelchairs, continued to be a challenge due to lengthy and complicated bureaucratic procedures.
The city of Maputo offered free bus passes to persons with disabilities. Buses in Maputo did not have specific accessibility features. Because public transportation was limited, many citizens rode in private minibuses and in the backs of pickup trucks, hazardous for persons with or without disabilities. Access ramps were rare, and sidewalks were hazardous for pedestrians to traverse.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
There were reports of societal discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Antidiscrimination laws protected LGBTI persons only from employment discrimination. No hate crime laws or other criminal justice mechanisms exist to aid in the prosecution of bias-motivated crimes against LGBTI persons. The government took no action on the only LGBTI association’s 2008 request to register legally.
The government does not track or report discrimination or crimes against individuals based on sexual orientation or gender identity. LAMBDA and local media did not report any bias-based attacks; however, discrimination in public medical facilities continued to occur. Medical staff sometimes chastised LGBTI individuals for their sexual orientation upon seeking treatment. Intimidation was not a factor in preventing incidents of abuse from being reported.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
The Joint UN Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) estimated that 11 percent of the population between the ages of 15 and 49 lived with HIV or AIDS in 2015. In August a government spokesperson stated the country registered approximately 107 AIDS-related deaths in addition to 223 new HIV infections daily. UNAIDS reported that in 2015, 28 percent of the population held “discriminatory attitudes” towards persons living with HIV or AIDS.
According to the 2013 People Living with HIV Stigma Index, 24 percent of respondents were verbally threatened or insulted, 20 percent excluded from family or social events, and 5 percent physically assaulted due to their HIV status. Reports continued of many women expelled from their homes and abandoned by their husbands and relatives because they were HIV-positive. Family or community members accused some women widowed by HIV/AIDS of being witches who purposely killed their husbands to acquire belongings; as retribution, they deprived the women of all possessions.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
Albimoz and Amor a Vida, local NGOs that advocated for persons with albinism, continued to document cases in which assailants kidnapped, maimed, or killed persons with albinism. Criminals attacked persons with albinism, often with the assistance of a family member, because certain witch doctors, purportedly from outside the country, according to government officials, paid for their body parts due to their allegedly “magical” properties. For example, in June criminals in Manica Province kidnapped and dismembered a six-year-old child with albinism.
The government continued to denounce violence against persons with albinism. Local media reported that police in Nampula had arrested 50 individuals suspected of kidnapping and murdering persons with albinism between January 2015 and May 2016. Courts tended to sentence those convicted of the murder and/or kidnapping of persons with albinism more harshly than those convicted of similar crimes that did not involve persons with albinism.