A 2004 National Women's Service (SERNAM) study reported that 50 percent of married women in Chile had suffered spousal abuse, 34 percent reported having suffered physical violence, and 16 percent reported psychological abuse. Domestic violence in Chile remains a serious problem.
Rape, including spousal rape, is a criminal offense. Penalties for rape range from five to 15 years' imprisonment, and the government generally enforced the law. The age for statutory rape is 14. The law protects the privacy and safety of the person making the charge. From January to November, police received reports of 1,926 cases of rape, compared with 2,451 cases in all of 2005. Experts believed that most rape cases went unreported. The Ministry of Justice and the PICH had several offices specifically to provide counseling and assistance in rape cases. A number of NGOs, such as La Morada Corporation for Women, provided counseling for rape victims.
Sexual harassment generally was recognized as a problem. A 2005 law against sexual harassment provides protection and financial compensation to victims and penalizes harassment by employers or co-workers. From January through September, the Labor Directorate had received 244 complaints of sexual harassment; 205 of these cases involved harassment by a supervisor or employer. During 2005 there were 264 such complaints--254 made by women and 10 by men; 238 of these cases involved a supervisor or employer. Most of the complaints were resolved quickly, resulting in action against the harasser in 33 percent of cases.
Women enjoy the same legal rights as men, including rights under family law and property law. The quadrennial 2004 National Socio-Economic Survey suggested that the overall gender income gap remained at 33 percent, which widened to 38 percent in managerial and professional positions. Women's workforce participation rose to 42 percent. The minimum wage for domestic workers, probably the largest single category of working women, was 75 percent of the standard minimum wage (see section 6.e.). The labor code provides specific benefits for pregnant workers and recent mothers, including a prohibition against dismissal; these benefits also apply to domestic workers. Employers may not ask women to take pregnancy tests prior to hiring them, although the NGO La Morada received reports that the practice continued in some companies. The SERNAM is charged with protecting women's legal rights.
A 2005 study by Corporacion Humana and the University of Chile's Institute of Public Affairs revealed that 87 percent of women surveyed felt that women suffered discrimination. According to the survey, 95 percent believed women faced discrimination in the labor market, 67 percent believed they faced discrimination in politics, 61 percent felt that women were discriminated against by the media, and 54 percent within the family.