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UNFPA Global Population Policy Update
Laws and Policies in Brazil, Chile, Peru and China
ISSUE 47 - 14 January 2005
This issue of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update features laws and policies relating to domestic violence and HIV/AIDS that have recently been enacted in Latin America and China.
Brazil Criminalizes Domestic Violence
On 17 June 2004, Brazil enacted Law No. 10.886, amending the 1940 Penal Code to make domestic violence a cognizable offence. The law imposes a prison sentence of six months to one year on a person who injures his or her mother or father, grandmother or grandfather, child, spouse or domestic partner. The law also applies when the victim is a person with whom the perpetrator lives or has lived with or when the perpetrator is a guest of the victim. In addition, the existence of a domestic relationship as defined in Law No. 10.886 is an aggravating factor in crimes of assault (defined elsewhere in the Penal Code), causing the penalties for those crimes to be raised by 30 percent.
Chile Legalizes Divorce
On 7 May 2004, Chile adopted Law No. 19.947, amending the 1884 Marriage Code to include a provision on divorce. Previously, couples could dissolve their marriages only through annulment by a civil registrar. A judge can now approve a divorce without a waiting period if one party proves that the actions of his or her spouse constitute a serious violation of the duties and obligations arising from marriage. The indications that these duties and obligations have been violated include: assaults against the life or physical or psychological integrity of a spouse or of one's child; serious and repeated failure to meet the obligations of cohabitation, support and fidelity; conviction of any crime against family order and public morality or of a crime against persons involving a serious breach of marital harmony; homosexual conduct; alcoholism or drug addiction that constitutes a serious impediment to harmonious cohabitation of spouses and their children; and attempt to enter the other spouse or one's children into prostitution. A judge may also grant a divorce with the agreement of both parties following a one-year period of separation. A judge has discretion to grant a divorce to one partner if the couple has been separated for a minimum period of three years. The new law also requires couples seeking a divorce to participate in a conciliation hearing with the purpose of examining the causes of conflict between the parties and assessing whether it is possible to save the marriage.
The law guarantees compensation upon divorce for a spouse who, for the duration of the marriage, served as a homemaker or cared for the children and consequently was unable or limited in his or her capacity to sustain remunerated employment during that time. Couples seeking a divorce who wish to partake in a mediation process may choose between mediators who require remuneration and those whose services are free of charge.
Peru Amends Law on HIV/AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Infections
On 31 May 2004, Peru enacted Law No. 28243, which amends Law No. 26626, the law on HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections. The amendments do the following: a) require the testing of pregnant woman for HIV after mandatory counseling; b) provide for penalties for health workers who violate the right to health of persons living with HIV/AIDS; and c) require the Ministries of Health and Education to undertake information and educational activities with an emphasis on healthy behavior and sexual responsibility, including postponement of the initiation of sexual activity and reduction of risky sexual behavior. The law also describes in detail the sort of health care the HIV infected persons are entitled to: 1) continued and permanent care; 2) prevention, diagnosis, treatment, monitoring, counseling, rehabilitation and social reintegration; 3) hospital, ambulatory, domiciliary and community care; and 4) medications, including progressive and free treatment with anti-retrovirals.
Peru Enacts Law for Temporary Refuge of Family Violence Victims
On 28 May 2004, Peru enacted Law No. 28236. This law creates shelters for the temporary refuge of the victims of family violence, who have been abandoned or are at risk or whose life or physical, mental or emotional health is in imminent danger due to family violence. Persons who resort to these shelters are to be provided with various kinds care for the harm they have suffered and to support their normal social development. These shelters are to be established throughout the country.
Yunnan Province in China Adopts Order on HIV/AIDS Prevention
On 20 January 2004, Yunnan Province in China adopted Order No. 121, which sets forth â€œResponsive Measures to HIV/AIDS Prevention in Yunnan Province. The order is guided by the principle that â€œPrevention prevails when medical treatment is integrated and includes measures to increase public awareness, intervene in behavior, ensure humane care and provide comprehensive prevention and treatment. More specifically, the order calls on government agencies to do the following, among other things: a) initiate mass media campaigns on AIDS prevention and incorporate information on AIDS prevention in school curricula; b) institute mandatory HIV testing of persons who donate body organs, tissues and blood and mandatory reporting of HIV/AIDS cases; c) allow drug detoxification services to establish syringe exchange programs for intravenous drug users; d) require the operators of hotels and other accommodations and places of entertainment to sell or distribute condoms; e) provide for the sale of condoms in railway stations, airports, ports, construction sites and tourist areas; f) guarantee the legal rights of persons with HIV/AIDS, particularly in employment, education and housing, and protect their confidentiality; g) adopt measures to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS in laboratories; h) provide anti-retroviral and other treatment in health facilities, including free treatment to stop mother-to-child transmission; and i) provide assistance to poor persons with HIV/AIDS and AIDS orphans. The order sets penalties for those who fail to report HIV/AIDS cases; violate the confidentiality of, or discriminate against, persons living with HIV/AIDS; carry out anti-retroviral treatment without approval; or violate provisions on HIV testing and laboratory safety.
All previous issues of the UNFPA Global Population Policy Update can be found on UNFPA's website at: http://www.unfpa.org/parliamentarians/news/newsletters.htm
This newsletter is issued by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in its capacity as secretariat for the biannual International Parliamentarians' Conference on the Implementation of the ICPD Programme of Action (IPCI/ICPD). The first IPCI/ICPD was held in November 2002 in Ottawa, Canada and the second in October 2004 in Strasbourg, France. These dispatches are intended to highlight important developments taking place around the world so that parliamentarians can be kept informed of and learn from the successes, setbacks and challenges encountered by their fellow parliamentarians in other countries and regions in their efforts to promote the implementation of the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development (September 1994, Cairo, Egypt). It should be noted that UNFPA does not necessarily endorse all of the policies described in this newsletter.
Thanks to Center for Reproductive Rights and Harvard University School of Public Health for their contributions to the content of this newsletter.
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