Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, including spousal rape, and domestic violence. The law allows for sentences of two to 12 years’ imprisonment for a person found guilty of rape, and authorities effectively enforced the law. The law criminalizes domestic violence, including physical, psychological, and sexual violence.
The Ministry of Interior reported 117 cases of rape and 19 cases of attempted rape in 2016. The number of rape cases and attempted rape cases increased 29 percent in the first half of the year, compared with the same period in 2016. There were 31,854 reports of domestic violence in the first 10 months of the year. In the first half of the year, reports of domestic violence increased by 12 percent, compared with the same period in 2016. In the first 10 months of the year, 23 women died because of domestic violence perpetrated by their partners or family members. During the year the government applied the electronic bracelet program in 526 cases to address domestic violence.
The law allows 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 domestic cases, and judges in these cases often issued restraining orders, which were difficult to enforce. The judiciary and the Ministry of Interior continued the use of double ankle-bracelet sets (one bracelet for the victim and one for the aggressor) to track the distance between the two. The ministry reported having trained 15,000 police officers on domestic violence issues since 2012.
The Ministry of Social Development, some police stations in the interior, the National Institute for Children and Adolescent Affairs (INAU), and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) operated shelters where abused women and children could seek temporary refuge. NGOs and government actors reported the 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 victims of domestic violence.
The government’s 2016-19 Action Plan For a Life Free of Gender-Based Violence provides for interagency coordination on violence prevention, access to justice, victim protection and attention, and punishment of perpetrators. It also promoted social and cultural awareness and provided training for public servants. The Prosecutor General’s Office established a specialized gender unit in September 2016 to incorporate a gender perspective in the agency’s work, promote greater respect for women’s rights, combat gender-based violence, and enhance interagency coordination.
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 victims. In September the government passed a decree regulating the 2009 law against sexual harassment in the workplace.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women as for men. Women, however, faced discrimination in employment, pay, credit, education, housing, and business ownership. The law does not require equal pay for equal work. In April the National Institute of Statistics reported the salary of women in the labor market ranged from 10 to 30 percent below that of men.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth within the country’s territory and/or from one’s parents. The government immediately registered all births.
Child Abuse: A total of 2,198 cases of violence against children and adolescents were entered into the INAU information system as of October. INAU reported an increase in its nationwide hotline hours of operation by 45 percent in 2016. The System for the Protection of Childhood and Adolescence Against Violence (SIPIAV) and the NGO Claves implemented awareness campaigns. SIPIAV coordinated interagency efforts regarding the protection of children’s rights. In June Jorge Cardona of the UN Committee for the Rights of Children raised concern over high poverty affecting children in the country.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18, but with parental consent it is 12 for girls and 14 for boys.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography; some children were victims, and authorities made efforts to enforce the law. The law does not specifically criminalize prostitution of children as child sex trafficking. The law establishes the minimum age for consensual sex as 12. When a sexual union takes place between an adult and a minor under age 15, violence is presumed and statutory rape law, which carries a penalty of two to 12 years in prison, may be applied. Minors between 12 and 15 may legally engage in consensual sex with each other. Penalties for trafficking children range from four to 16 years in prison. The penalty for child pornography ranges from one to six years in prison, and the law was effectively enforced
In 2016 the National Committee for the Eradication of the Commercial and Noncommercial Sexual Exploitation of Children and Adolescents approved a national plan of action for 2016-21.
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 Central Jewish Committee reported that the Jewish community had an estimated population of 15,000.
In January the government allocated media network time to broadcast a commemorative message for International Holocaust Day issued by the Ministry of Education and Culture. Parliament also commemorated International Holocaust Day at a widely attended ceremony.
In March the municipality of Paysandu inaugurated a plaque on the corner where Jewish businessman and community leader David Fremd was stabbed to death in March 2016 by a schoolteacher allegedly aligned with anti-Jewish movements. Parliament paid homage to Fremd during a special session. Representatives from Fremd’s family, the Red Cross, the Catholic Church, the Jewish community, and social organizations, as well as the Israeli ambassador, attended the ceremonies. The Central Jewish Committee organized a workshop on antidiscrimination legislation attended by government officials, Supreme Court of Justice representatives, and Argentine religious officials.
The Ministry of Defense met with the Central Jewish Committee and political leaders to discuss how to dispose of an 800-pound bronze eagle remnant of the Nazi German World War II-era cruiser Admiral Graf Spee that sank off the coast in 1939. While some suggested displaying the piece along with other remnants of the ship in a museum, the Central Jewish Committee and politicians feared that exhibiting the piece could attract and embolden foreign and domestic neo-Nazi supporters.
The Holocaust Memorial in Montevideo was vandalized twice in the span of a week with anti-Semitic graffiti. The memorial was defaced with messages denying the Jewish genocide during World War II. On both occasions local authorities immediately removed the graffiti, condemned the act of vandalism, announced the monument would be monitored, and asked citizens to practice good sense, tolerance, and peace. There were also reports of anti-Semitic graffiti around bus stops.
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 law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. The law prohibits abuse of persons with disabilities in educational and mental facilities. The law also grants persons with disabilities the right to vote and participate in civic affairs without restriction. The government in general did not monitor compliance and did not effectively enforce provisions or promote programs to provide for access to buildings, information, public transportation, and communications.
PRONADIS is the governmental entity responsible for developing actions, programs, and regulations to provide building and facilities access; cultural, sports and recreational opportunities; education; and employment to persons with disabilities. The Ministry of Social Development continued to train government employees on dealing with persons with disabilities.
The law reserves no less than 4 percent of public-sector jobs for persons with physical and mental disabilities. In July a report of the National Office of Civil Service of the Presidency of the Republic stated that only 0.66 percent of government job vacancies in 2016 were filled by persons with disabilities. Representative Camila Ramirez (an alternate in the National Party), the country’s first deaf member of parliament, stated in August she was not allowed to enter the Chamber of Representatives with an interpreter.
Government decrees certify and regulate the use of canes and establish provisions for extending adequate training in their use. Guide dogs legally have full access to public and private premises and transportation. Most public buses did not have provisions for passengers with disabilities other than one reserved seat, although airports and ports offered accessibility accommodations. The law also provides tax benefits to private-sector companies and grants priority benefits to small and medium-sized companies owned by persons with disabilities.
The law grants children with disabilities the right to attend school (primary, secondary, and higher education). Ramps built at public elementary and high schools facilitated access. The state-funded University of the Republic offered sign-language interpreters for deaf students. Some government buildings, commercial sites, movie theaters, and other cultural venues lacked access ramps. Plan Ceibal continued to offer specially adapted laptops to children with disabilities.
In March the government enacted a protocol for the inclusion of persons with disabilities in public education centers. In May a civil court ruling obligated the state to ensure that local television channels have sign language interpretation or subtitles for all local programs.
The country’s Afro-Uruguayan minority continued to face societal discrimination and high levels of poverty. The interagency antidiscrimination committee and the National Institution of Human Rights continued to receive complaints of racism. In June, as head of the government’s ethnic and racial equality efforts, the Ministry of Social Development and NGOs jointly commemorated the second annual month of Afro-descendant heritage with cultural and awareness activities. The ministry trained 295 persons on Afro-descendent issues in 2016. The National Police Academy, National School for Peacekeeping Operations of Uruguay, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ School of Diplomacy included discrimination awareness training as part of their curricula.
NGOs reported “structural racism” in society and noted that the percentage of Afro-Uruguayans working as unskilled laborers was much higher than for other groups. Afro-Uruguayans were underrepresented in government (two representatives in parliament and the president of the National Postal Service were Afro-Uruguayan), academia, and in the middle and upper echelons of private-sector firms. The law grants 8 percent of state jobs to Afro-Uruguayan minority candidates who comply with constitutional and legal requirements. Unemployment of Afro-Uruguayan women remained high. The National Employment Agency is required to include Afro-Uruguayans in its training courses. The law also requires that all scholarship and student support programs include a quota for Afro-Uruguayans, and it grants financial benefits to companies that hire them.
In November the domestic NGO Jovenes Afro-Uruguayos filed a formal complaint regarding a case of racial discrimination involving BSE, a state-owned bank. According to petitioners, the bank kept a list with the names of Afro-Uruguayan customers marked in red, required them to wear a red ribbon on their clothes, and seated them together in one area. Bank officials later publicly apologized for the incident and committed to improving its processes.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Authorities generally protected the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons, although civil society representatives asserted that generally government mechanisms for protection were weak and ineffective. Leaders of civil society organizations reported that despite the legal advancement of LGBTI issues, societal discrimination remained high. In 2016 the Ministry of Social Development launched a Consultative Council on Sexual Diversity represented by members of various NGOs, which provides recommendations to the government on sexual diversity policies. The ministry reported that 30 percent of transgender persons were unemployed, 65 percent worked in prostitution, and the majority had low levels of education. Members of the transgender community claimed to suffer social discrimination in society and within their families. Michelle Suarez, who in October joined parliament as the country’s first transgender senator, vowed to use her position to expand and protect the rights of transgender persons.
In May the Ministry of Tourism launched an international tourism campaign based on the country’s respect for diversity.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
There were isolated reports of societal discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS.