THE STATUS OF WOMEN IN THE AMERICAS
RAPPORTEUR: DEAN CLAUDIO GROSSMAN
Following is a list of the rights
established by the American Convention on Human Rights (Pact of San José) and
the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man.
With respect to each right identified, a series of questions has been
formulated to serve as a basis to analyze the compatibility of the legislation
and practices of the countries of the hemisphere with respect to the rights of
women. It should be noted, however,
that some of the questions are merely for information, in order to analyze the
context in which the theme of women's rights arises.
In the instances where information and statistical data are requested, to
the extent possible, please provide these disaggregated by region, ethnic group
and social class. Additionally,
where possible such data should cover the current situation since 1990.
RIGHT TO JURIDICAL PERSONALITY
3, AMERICAN CONVENTION
XVII, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Is the legal capacity of women full or relative? Document your reply based on the prescriptions of law and
based on practice and custom.
In what situations may the legal capacity of women be abridged?
there limitations on women's capacity with respect to inheritance?
women act as executors of wills or administrators of estates?
women have the same capacity as men to acquire, administer and dispose of
property within marriage?
there limitations on the capacity of women to enter into contracts?
For example, in the sphere of work?
there special rules about who shall be considered the head of a household?
Are the rights and obligations of men and women different when the
position of head of household is shared between them or when it is held by one
or another of them?
At what age do women acquire full legal capacity? At what age do men
acquire full legal capacity?
Are there situations which confer full legal capacity upon girls under
the age of majority? Under what
circumstances? Are these
circumstances the same as those for boys?
At what age does the law permit women to marry?
At what age does the law permit men to marry?
To what restrictions is the legal capacity of the person subject?
For example, is it prohibited to bear witness against relatives, or for
spouses to testify against each other?
RIGHT TO LIFE
4, AMERICAN CONVENTION
I, AMERICAN DECLARATION
the cases in which this segment asks for information and statistics, wherever
possible these should be broken down by region, ethnic group and social class,
with figures provided for 1990 and 1995.
What is the rate of female mortality?
What are the leading causes?
What is the rate of female morbidity?
What are the leading causes?
What is the rate of maternal mortality?
What are the leading causes?
What are the rates of mortality and morbidity among girl children and boy
children by age group? What are the
leading causes of death, per sex and per age group?
What are the average life expectancies of men and of women?
What are the crude birth and death rates for men and women?
What is the average number of live births per woman?
What percentage of women receive prenatal care?
What is the average length of stay, in days, of women for childbirth in
health care centers? What was the
average five years ago?
How many deaths have resulted from intrafamily violence in the last five
years? How many persons of each sex
have died? How many criminal
proceedings initiated in these cases were completed, and with what result?
Please disaggregate per sex and per year.
What penalties are imposed in such cases as compared with penalties
imposed for other kinds of killings?
Is there capital punishment for women?
For men? If it has not been
abolished, for which crimes has it been imposed on women?
RIGHT TO HUMANE TREATMENT
5, AMERICAN CONVENTION
I, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Has the country ratified the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention,
Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women?
If it has, what measures have been adopted to bring about full
compliance? Can an individual
invoke the Convention referred to before national tribunals?
Is there specific legislation to punish violence against women?
If so, how is that violence defined and what types of punishments are
provided? What enforcement
mechanisms are provided?
How are the following crimes classified under the applicable legislation:
rape, battery and sexual abuse? Is
rape between married persons codified as a criminal offense?
What other sexual crimes are sanctioned?
How is sexual harassment dealt with in the applicable legislation?
What is the legal interest protected in the classification of acts as
sexual crimes? Is the protected
interest the virtue of the victim?
What responses are law enforcement officers directed to take in cases of
violence against women, and in situations of reported or suspected domestic
violence? Are these directives
applied in practice?
What precautionary measures exist to protect a woman who has been
attacked? What precautionary
measures exist to keep the attacker away from the victim?
How are such measures obtained? What
obstacles, if any, impede access to such protection? Are measures of protection enforced?
How many complaints have been presented over the last five years with
respect to: rape, battery, sexual abuse, sexual harassment and other sexual
crimes? How many cases were opened?
How many were processed to completion, and with what result?
What is the process a victim must go through to file a complaint in a
case of rape, battering or sexual abuse? How
many people must the victim see? Is
a medical exam required? If it is
required, what does the exam consist of? On
what days and at what hours are the foregoing services available to victims?
Is the testimony or report of a medical forensic practitioner a requisite
to initiate a criminal or civil action in cases of violence against women?
How many medical forensic practitioners are there in the country?
What is the legal significance of a medical report of
rape/battering/sexual abuse? Which
medical practitioners are deemed competent to provide expert testimony in such
Is torture classified as a crime in your country?
If so, does it include rape? Under
What statutes of limitation apply to the crime of rape or statutory rape?
Is there a deadline for the presentation of a complaint by the victim?
Is the crime of rape prosecutable by the public attorney and/or may a
private complaint be filed? What
are the procedures in the latter case?
When the rape victim is a minor, who may file a complaint for the opening
of criminal proceedings? If the
rapist is a member of the victim's family, who may file the complaint?
What means of proof are required to prove the crime of rape and other
sexual crimes? What legal weight is
attributed to the testimony of the victim?
Does the victim have to demonstrate that she resisted in order to meet
the definition of the crime of rape? Is
the defence of absence of resistance admissible in a rape case?
What is the legal definition of consent in a rape case?
Is the "honesty" of the victim (her moral reputation in the
community) considered in the typification of the crime of rape or statutory
rape, or in the determination of the penalty?
In the prosecution of rape and other sexual crimes, is the previous
behavior of the victim taken into account or are questions asked about it?
Does marriage between the aggressor and the victim cause the criminal
action or the penalty to become extinguished in the case of rape?
Does the victim of violence or a sexual crime have access to a civil
action for the recovery of damages? Are
there public legal services to assist a victim in filing such civil actions?
What public or private programs exist to train law enforcement, judicial,
medical, and other public personnel on how to treat women who have been
subjected to violence? Where such
training has been carried out, please describe the programs, and the type,
number and sex of the personnel trained.
Are physicians required by law to report injuries presented by patients
which they believe to have arisen from violence?
If so, is the requirement enforced, and what sanctions are imposed for
the failure of the doctor to report?
Are there measures to provide the victim in cases of sexual crimes with
some degree of privacy?
Are there obstacles which have not been addressed which stand in the way
of eradicating violence against women?
Are there provisions guaranteeing informed consent to women in medical
Are there situations in which compulsory sterilization is practiced?
Under which provisions and conditions?
Is the voluntary interruption of pregnancy permissible for therapeutic
What legal or cultural obstacles might women experience in terms of their
access to health care, including family planning?
What are the most common methods of contraception?
Are there norms regarding methods of contraception?
Are there education campaigns for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and care
for those already infected? Are
there differences in such campaigns and attention for men and for women?
Are there education programs designed to provide women with information
on specific health issues of importance to them?
How are such programs directed to women of different ages?
Are male and female detainees maintained in separate facilities?
Among female inmates, are minors kept separately from adults?
What provisions are made for the health needs of women prisoners, and for
gynecological services in particular?
Under what conditions are female prisoners subjected to full body
searches? Who is authorized to
perform them? For what reasons and
under what conditions are the cavities of the body examined, and who is
authorized to do this?
FREEDOM FROM SLAVERY
6, AMERICAN CONVENTION
I, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Do the practices of servitude by contract (indentured servitude) or the
obligation to work off debts (debt bondage) exist?
If so, how many men and women are affected; in what regions of the
country; and what legislation applies?
Is unpaid domestic work contracted for in exchange for food and lodging?
Are there regulations to govern unpaid domestic employment?
Does the practice of selling/purchasing girls for domestic service
exist? In what parts of the
country? How widespread are these
practices (please disaggregate by sex)? What
legislation or policies exist to protect women from these practices?
Are these enforced? What
sanctions are applied?
Is there legislation governing conditions for domestic workers?
What protection does it provide?
What is the status of servitude/personal service in the legal order of
the country? Is the
servitude/personal service of minors prohibited?
How does the law define slavery?
Do men have the "right" to restrict the personal freedom of
What are the laws on the exploitation of prostitution in the country?
If prostitution is legal, how are female sexual workers and their
customers treated under the law? Are
female sexual workers issued licenses, or are they regulated in any way?
Are there laws on child prostitution?
Is the sale of sexual services by third parties illegal?
If prostitution is illegal, is the law enforced?
Are sanctions imposed against prostitutes, customers or both?
Is trafficking in women classified as a criminal offense?
How many cases involving trafficking in women have been initiated in the
last five years?
What obstacles stand in the way of eliminating the exploitation of
prostitution and trafficking in women?
What type of hard labor is authorized to be imposed on female convicts?
RIGHT TO PERSONAL LIBERTY
7, AMERICAN CONVENTION
I, XXV, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Does the remedy of habeas corpus apply only to restrictions on personal
liberty imposed by the Government? Is
it possible to utilize this remedy in situations in which a deprivation of
liberty is imposed by a family member, employer, teacher, spouse or companion,
hospital or proprietor of a place of prostitution?
What rights do women, who have been deprived of their liberty but have
not been sentenced, possess in relation to their minor children?
How many women in detention, both accused and convicted, have their minor
children housed with them in the detention facility?
How many prison facilities exist; where are they located by region; and
which facilities are used for the imprisonment of women?
RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL AND JUDICIAL PROTECTION
8, 25, AMERICAN CONVENTION
XVII, XVIII, XXVI, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Do men and women experience distinctions in the processing of their
cases, either as claimants or defendants, in terms of access to justice; speed
of proceedings; ability to receive legal counsel through the State, or other
What particular problems confront women as defendants in criminal
processes? What problems confront
women who seek to utilize the criminal justice system to bring a complaint?
Are there statistics, disaggregated by sex, on the commission of crimes?
If so, please include those for the last five years.
Are there statistics, disaggregated by sex, concerning the severity of
penalties applied for similar crimes? If
so, please include those for the last five years.
Is there access to State appointed legal representation for the accused
in a criminal matter? Is there
access to State appointed counsel for litigants in family, labor, civil or
agricultural processes? And for
victims of sexual crimes or domestic violence?
What is the total number of judges for each of the distinct levels within
the administration of justice? How
many women serve as judges in each level? Please
provide the same information for the Prosecutor's Offices (Ministerio Publico).
How many lawyers are there in the country?
How many are women?
FREEDOM FROM EX POST FACTO LAWS
9, AMERICAN CONVENTION
XIV, XXVI, AMERICAN DECLARATION
See questions at Article 8.
RIGHT TO COMPENSATION
10, AMERICAN CONVENTION
XVII, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Is the right to be compensated in the event that one is sentenced by a
final judgment through a miscarriage of justice protected by law?
How many claims have been filed over the last five years seeking such
compensation, and how many have been decided?
Please disaggregate by sex.
RIGHT TO PRIVACY
11, AMERICAN CONVENTION
V, AMERICAN DECLARATION
What is understood by "honor" in the legal context?
For women? For men?
Are penalties reduced or terminated where a defendant claims defense of
his "honor"? For what
crimes? Is "honor" a
grounds for aggravation or reduction of the seriousness of certain crimes? What
justifies the use of "honor" as a grounds for aggravating or reducing
the seriousness of a crime?
Is "honor" used as a grounds to restrict the rights of women?
How many men have been sentenced for "dishonor" and in what
How many women die for reasons of "honor"?
Does the law protect individuals from arbitrary interference with their
home or personal lives in the form of conduct such as "stalking?"
FREEDOM OF CONSCIENCE AND RELIGION
12, AMERICAN CONVENTION
III, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Are men as well as women able to choose and freely express their
Are there religious educational programs financed by the Government?
If so, would such programs be compatible with human rights standards,
including those concerning the rights of women?
If a mother and father have different religious beliefs, how is the
religion of the child determined?
FREEDOM OF THOUGHT AND EXPRESSION
13, AMERICAN CONVENTION
IV, AMERICAN DECLARATION
What is the percentage of women who occupy positions of management or
decision in relation to the oral and written means of communication of the
Does the State develop activities for the promotion of human rights?
If so, do such activities include information about women's rights?
Are there norms or mechanisms in place to prevent the supporting of
("apología del odio") or inciting of violence or other illegal
actions against women?
Do there exist means of challenging modes of communication which emit
stereotypes and denigrating images of women?
Have sanctions been imposed? What
type of sanctions and under what circumstances?
Are there laws against infant and child pornography? Is the use of the women for advertising purposes regulated?
Does the Government permit access to information about the family,
health, and the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases?
RIGHT OF CORRECTION OR REPLY
14, AMERICAN CONVENTION
V, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Do there exist methods by which women may use the right of correction
when they have been offended as a group? Have
they used these methods? What is
the procedure for exercising the right of correction?
RIGHT OF ASSEMBLY
15, AMERICAN CONVENTION
XXI, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Do women experience restrictions on their right of assembly (legal,
social or family)?
FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION
16, AMERICAN CONVENTION
XXII, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Are there associations dedicated to the promotion and protection of
women's rights which are recognized by the State?
Is so, please include a list of women's organizations and mixed
organizations? Do any of them
receive state support? Which?
In the last 5 years, has the right of association been denied to any
women's organization? How many?
Which are they? Why?
Is there legislation in place which limits the freedom of association of
women? When a family member or
spouse has erected an impediment against participation in an organization or
movement, may a woman present a complaint to some forum?
Have cases of this type been presented?
What has been the result of the action?
What protection does the Government provide for associations, organized
groups and other social organizations? For
those in which women participate?
PROTECTION OF THE FAMILY
17, AMERICAN CONVENTION
VI, AMERICAN DECLARATION
What is the legal definition of family under domestic law?
Is there legislation in place governing de facto unions (common
Are family relations governed by civil law, religious law, customary law
or a combination of those? Explain,
including discussion of the age required to marry legally, the possibility for a
woman to choose her own mate, etc...
Do men and women have the same rights and responsibilities in a marriage?
If not, please specify the differences in law, as well as in practice.
According to law and custom, who is considered "head of the
Does the government award different family allowances when the
household is headed by a woman, a man, and by the two in common?
In what percentage of homes is the woman head of the household?
In what percentage of families or households with income below the
poverty line is a woman head of the household?
If divorce exists under the country's laws, what are the grounds for
divorce for men and for women? May
a man or a woman seek a divorce on the same grounds?
Who generally retains the custody of the children after a divorce?
Are there statistics? How is
property divided between men and women in the event of a divorce?
How does the State enforce the duty to provide alimony or allowance?
For the past five years, how many complaints a year were presented on the
issue of alimony? How many were
resolved? With what result?
What criteria are used to determine the appropriate alimony amount?
May married persons demand alimony or allowance from one another?
Are there sanctions for those who do not comply with the alimony laws?
How many processes were initiated over the last three years for failure
to comply with the duty to provide alimony, and how many were brought to
How are the rights and duties of guardianship and care of minors
exercised? How are they suspended
or lost? What rights are granted
with custody? Do mothers and
fathers have equal rights relating to the rights and duties of guardianship and
care of minors? What is the
situation in cases of parents who are not married?
How does the State enforce the duty to pay child support? What sanctions are imposed on those who fail to comply?
What criteria are used to calculate child support?
Over the past five years, how many complaints were filed before the
courts concerning non-compliance? How
many of these were resolved? With what result?
Are children born within a marriage and those born outside of a marriage
Do there exist limitations or rules regarding the number of children a
couple may have?
Is the legal definition of adultery the same for male adulterers as it is
for female adulterers? Does
adultery involve a criminal penalty? Is
it the same for men and for women?
Do the widow and female successors of a deceased person enjoy an equal
right with male successors to inherit land and other properties in the absence
of a will? Can a widow or daughter
inherit property if provided for in a will?
Are there provisions with respect to maternity and paternity leave?
Are there legal protections in place to prevent the firing of a pregnant
women or of women on maternity leave? Is
such firing tolerated in practice? Does
a woman have the right to maternity leave without the loss of employment,
seniority, or social benefits? To
maternity leave with payment of salary? If
so, who pays the salary? How are
infractions of applicable provisions penalized?
Are these applied effectively?
RIGHT TO A NAME
18, AMERICAN CONVENTION
Does a woman have the right to retain her family name or last name after
marriage? May she give that name to
RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
19, AMERICAN CONVENTION
VII, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Are male and female children heard in those judicial cases (see the
questions relating to the rights of the family) in which matters that affect
their interests are at issue? Are
their wishes taken into account?
Are pregnant adolescents able to continue their formal education?
Is expulsion from school by reason of pregnancy possible?
Do norms exist which differentiate between girls and boys born within and
outside of marriage? If so, in
RIGHT TO NATIONALITY
20, AMERICAN CONVENTION
XIX, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Is nationality determined by birth, by nationality of the parents or some
combination of these or other factors? If
nationality is determined by the nationality of the parents, which parent's
nationality will have priority?
Do women have the same rights as men to acquire, change or maintain their
nationality? What social, cultural
or economic factors affect the exercise of such rights by women?
Does marriage to a foreigner or the change of nationality of a spouse
affect the nationality of a woman in any way?
Are there different norms for men and women in this area?
RIGHT TO PROPERTY
21, AMERICAN CONVENTION
XXIII, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Do women have full capacity to acquire, administer and dispose of
property and to assume rights and obligations by contract under the system of
succession, the patrimonial system, and the community property system?
Does the crime of fraud against joint property exist? If so, how many complaints per year were presented during the
last five years? What is the
penalty, and has it been applied in practice?
Do legal procedures exist to protect joint property from the acts of one
spouse? If so, have these been
utilized in practice (please disaggregated usage by sex)?
Do women and men have the same access to bank loans, mortgages and other
forms of credit?
FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT AND RESIDENCE
22, AMERICAN CONVENTION
VIII, XXVII, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Are there restrictions on the ability of a married woman to move freely
and to fix her residence where she wishes without the authorization of her
Does a married woman require the authorization of her husband to be able
to leave the country? Is so, does a
married man require the authorization of his wife?
What procedure regulates the exit from the country of minors?
Is the authorization of the father and mother required, or only of the
father or only of the mother?
RIGHT TO PARTICIPATE IN GOVERNMENT
23, AMERICAN CONVENTION
XX, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Do women have the right to vote in all elections in equality with men?
Since what time? Is it obligatory to cast one's vote? What percentage of men and women exercise the right to vote?
Is there a difference in the minimum age required to vote between men and
women? Do other conditions exist
with respect to the right to vote (for example, the holding of property,
literacy, economic condition and others)? Do
such conditions affect men and women in a distinct manner?
Are there instances of participation and consultation with women's
organizations in the process of taking decisions of development and
implementation of laws and programs which affect them?
Are the same requirements demanded of men and women in order to run for
elected office and public office?
What percentage of candidates for public office are women?
Please indicate the public offices and high posts occupied by women?
Referring to elected as well as appointed positions for the last two
periods: presidency and
vicepresidency of the republic, ministers, governors, senators, deputies, city
council and council members.
What percentage of executive positions within state agencies are filled
How many women serve in the foreign service of the country?
How many serve in administrative positions, executive positions, and
Does the state promote the equitable participation of men and women in
politics? Please indicate the
mechanisms utilized for this purpose, modifications to the electoral codes,
policies and other actions taken in this field in the last five years.
What obstacles, if any, hinder women in their ability to take part in the
conduct of "public affairs"?
RIGHT TO EQUAL PROTECTION
24, AMERICAN CONVENTION
II, AMERICAN DECLARATION
Are there constitutional and legal provisions that define discrimination
against women? Please attach texts.
Are there laws or administrative dispositions which discriminate against
women? Are these in the process of
being changed or revoked?
What legislative or administrative measures have been adopted to prohibit
or eliminate discrimination against women?
Are sanctions imposed, such as fines or loss of government contracts, for
discrimination against women? If
so, what are they? How have they
Have cases of discrimination against women been heard before courts or
governmental administrative bodies in the last five years?
If so, how many cases have been initiated? How many have been brought to resolution?
What judgments have been issued?
What measures have been adopted to advance or improve the situation of
women or to guarantee fundamental freedoms and equality of rights?
Have mechanisms or institutions been established to give these effect?
Are there general programs of public education and school texts which
promote the equality before the law of men and women?
Please describe them.
Are there prohibitions on women filling certain work positions which are
open to men? If so, what criteria
justify these prohibitions?
What norms exist to eliminate discrimination against women in employment?
Are these complied with? What
sanctions are provided for non-compliance?
How many cases of non-compliance have resulted in the application of
sanctions in the last five years?
Do women have the right according to the law to receive pay equal to that
of men for equal work or work of the same value?
What percentage of the remuneration received by men is received by women?
Do norms exist with reference to the work realized by women in the home?
Is unpaid farm or other agricultural work included as part of the gross
national product of the country?
As a matter of law and of practice, do women have the same right as men
to: a pension, to social services for the elderly, to services for disability,
to work training, promotions, retirement, vacations or paid annual leave, or
other service related to employment?
RIGHT TO JUDICIAL PROTECTION
25, AMERICAN CONVENTION
XVIII, AMERICAN DECLARATION
What type of obstacles, if any, restrict women in their access to the
mechanisms of justice for protection against acts which violate their
fundamental rights? See questions,
ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS
26, AMERICAN CONVENTION
What is the average rate of female and male literacy? Please disaggregate figures by age group and region as well.
What percentage of graduates of primary school, secondary school and
university level institutions are women?
What educational programs are available for young people and for adult
women who dropped out of school before graduating?
What are the male and female drop-out rates at each distinct level of
What percentage of the work force is comprised of women? What is the rate of unemployment for women and for men?
Are there differences in these rates between urban zones and rural zones?
What percentage of the population has access to health care?
Please disaggregate figures by sex, by age group, and by region.
What percentage of the population suffers from malnutrition?
Please disaggregate figures by sex, by age group, and by region.
SUSPENSION OF GUARANTEES
27, AMERICAN CONVENTION
Has a state of emergency or exception been declared by national
authorities during the past five years? If
so, what measures or restrictions were adopted?
Did these measures affect men and women equally?
RESTRICTIONS REGARDING INTERPRETATION
29, AMERICAN CONVENTION
Please indicate the international and inter-American instruments that
have been ratified by the state with respect to the rights of women, and whether
these instruments were adopted with reservations, and, if so, what specific
reservations were made.