Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, spousal rape, and domestic abuse are criminal offenses for which conviction is punishable by a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment. Nevertheless, rape was a problem, and the government did not enforce the law effectively. Most victims did not report rape due to fear of reprisal or social stigma. As of September 1, authorities received only five reports of rape. Only 13 other cases of sexual assault were prosecuted, and none resulted in conviction.
Domestic violence against women was a problem and underreported. Police rarely responded to domestic disputes, although media continued to draw attention to the problem. Police maintained a specialized unit, the Family Squad, to address domestic violence and other family problems. The unit was underfunded and ineffective. Judicial authorities often dismissed the few cases that reached a prosecutor. In the cases that resulted in conviction, judges generally handed down light sentences. As of September 1, of 27 reported cases of domestic violence, 11 were prosecuted.
The Social Affairs Division of the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and NGOs, provided counseling services to victims of rape and domestic violence. The ministry’s Gender Secretariat conducted various outreach campaigns to end gender-based violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but enforcement was rare. The penal code provides no penalty for sexual harassment, although the court may order a person accused of such conduct to “keep a bond of peace,” which allows the court to assess a fine if the harasser fails to cease the harassment.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and to have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, or violence. Health clinics and local NGOs operated freely in disseminating information on family planning under the guidance of the Ministry of Health. The government provided free childbirth services including doctors, nurses, and midwives for delivery and for prenatal and postnatal care. Men and women had equal access to diagnosis and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. There were no legal, social, cultural, or other barriers to accessing these services.
Discrimination: The law provides for the same legal status and rights for women as for men, and the society is largely matriarchal. While unwed mothers were the societal norm, the law requires fathers to support their children. In June 2015 the Employment Act was amended to provide fathers with five days of paternity leave upon the birth of a child. There was no officially sanctioned discrimination in employment, and women were well represented in both the public and private sectors.
There was no economic discrimination against women in employment, access to credit, equal pay for equal work, or owning or managing a business. Inheritance laws do not discriminate against women.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth in the country or from parents, and births generally were registered immediately.
Child Abuse: Although the law prohibits physical abuse of children, child abuse was a problem. According to government social workers, perpetrators of child sexual abuse often were stepfathers and other family members. According to the NGO Women in Action and Solidarity Organization, most rapes of girls under age 15 went unreported due to fear of reprisal or social stigma. Authorities prosecuted several child abuse cases in court. The strongest public advocate for young victims was a semiautonomous agency, the National Council for Children.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriage is 15 years for girls with parental consent and 18 years for boys. Child marriage was not a significant problem.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law criminalizes the prostitution and sexual exploitation of children and specifically prohibits the procurement, recruitment, or exploitation of children under age 18 for the purpose of prostitution. The law also prohibits the procurement or detainment of any child against his or her will with the intent to engage in sexual conduct or for the purpose of prostitution. The law provides for a minimum 14 years’ imprisonment for the first conviction of sexual assault on a person under age 15, and 28 years’ imprisonment for a second conviction. The 2014 Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act prescribes penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment for conviction of child trafficking.
Sexual exploitation of children was a problem. There were credible reports of commercial sexual exploitation of children, and many of the cases went unreported. Few complaints were filed with police, and no abusers were prosecuted during the year. No cases of child pornography, which is illegal, were reported during the year.
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 travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
The Jewish community numbered fewer than 10 persons. 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
Although the constitution and law provide for the right of persons with disabilities to special protection, including reasonable provisions for improving quality of life, no laws provide for access to public buildings, transportation, or government services, and the government did not provide such services. There was discrimination against persons with disabilities. For example, there were reports some employers did not pay their employees with disabilities if the latter were already receiving disability social aid (see section 7.d.). Most children with disabilities were segregated in specialized schools. The National Council for the Disabled, a government agency under the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, developed work placement programs for persons with disabilities, although few employment opportunities existed.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
On May 18, consensual same-sex activity between men was decriminalized. There were few reports of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons, although LGBTI activists reported social stigma prevented incidents from being pursued. On July 18, Today in Seychelles carried a local LGBTI activist’s opinion editorial that described the barriers LGBTI persons faced in obtaining public housing and access to health care. On June 30, authorities registered a local NGO formed to advocate for the rights of LGBTI persons that submitted its registration documents in September 2015; the normal registration approval process ordinarily took 10 to 14 days.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
There were no reports of violence or discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. Nevertheless, the government has informal policies that require a foreign citizen marrying a Seychellois to undergo an HIV test. If the test is positive, the couple is not permitted to marry in the country. On April 29, a national policy on HIV/AIDS in the workplace was initiated that provides for core guidelines and responses for HIV/AIDS in the workplace including nondiscriminatory employment practices.