Brunei - Human Rights

Human Rights

See also: LGBT rights in Brunei

Women

May 2010, the Sultan appointed the first female Deputy Minister.

The law stipulates imprisonment of up to 30 years and caning with not fewer than 12 strokes for rape. The law does not criminalize spousal rape; it explicitly states that sexual intercourse by a man with his wife, as long as she is not under 13 years of age, is not rape. Protections against sexual assault by a spouse are provided under the amended Islamic Family Law Order 2010 and Married Women Act Order 2010, and the penalty for breaching a protection order is a fine not exceeding BN$2,000 ($1,538) or imprisonment not exceeding six months. During the year 23 rape cases were reported; at year's end police were investigating 11 and had forwarded 10 to the Attorney General Chambers.

There is no specific domestic violence law, but arrests have been made in domestic violence cases under the Women and Girls Protection Act. The police investigate domestic violence only in response to a report by a victim. The police were generally responsive in the investigation of such cases. During the year there were a total of 62 cases of spousal dispute abuse reported; at year's end 55 cases were under investigation, and eight had been forwarded to the Attorney General Chambers. The criminal penalty for a minor domestic assault is one to two weeks in jail and a fine. An assault resulting in serious injury is punishable by caning and a longer prison sentence.

A special unit staffed by female officers existed within the police department to investigate domestic abuse and child abuse complaints. A hotline was available for persons to report domestic violence. The Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sport's Department of Community Development provided counseling for women and their spouses. Based on individual circumstances, some female and minor victims were placed in protective custody while waiting for their cases to be brought to court.

Islamic courts staffed by male and female officials offered counseling to married couples in domestic violence cases. Officials did not encourage wives to reconcile with flagrantly abusive spouses, and Islamic courts recognized assault as grounds for divorce.

The law prohibits sexual harassment and stipulates that whoever assaults or uses criminal force, intending thereby to outrage or knowing it is likely to outrage the modesty of a person, shall be punished with imprisonment for as much as five years and caning.

Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children and have access to contraceptive devices and methods through the government and private clinics. According to information gathered by the UN, in 2008 the maternal mortality rate was an estimated 21 deaths per 100,000 live births. Citizens enjoy free medical and health care, including skilled attendance during childbirth, prenatal care, and essential obstetric and postpartum care. Women had equal access to diagnostic and treatment facilities for sexually transmitted diseases. Women had equal access to HIV treatment and counseling, as well as follow-up treatment.

In accordance with the government's interpretation of Qur'anic precepts, Muslim women have rights similar to those of Muslim men in areas such as divorce and child custody. Islamic law requires that males receive twice the inheritance of women. Civil law permits female citizens to pass their nationality on to their children and to own property and other assets, including business properties.

Unlike in previous years, women with permanent positions in the government could apply for travel allowances for their children; however, they could not do so for their husbands working in the private sector. With this exception, they received the same allowance privileges as their college-educated counterparts. According to government statistics, women made up 57 percent of the civil service force and held 28 percent of senior management posts. Women are not discriminated against in access to employment and business.

Children

Citizenship is derived through one's parents rather than through birth within the country's territory. Parents with stateless status are required to apply for a special pass for a child born in the country; failure to register a child made it difficult to enroll the child in school.

By law sexual intercourse with a female under 14 years of age constitutes rape and is punishable by imprisonment for not less than eight years and not more than 30 years and not less than 12 strokes of the cane. The law protects women, girls, and boys from exploitation through prostitution and "other immoral purposes," including pornography.

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