The Constitution of Spain establishes that the minimum age of marriage will be determined by the civil law.[1]The statutory minimum age of marriage for women and men is 18.[2]Couples of the same sex can marry under article 44, chapter II of the Civil Code. De facto unions are also recognized under Spanish law.[3]

The Constitution and the Civil Code establish that spouses are equal in rights and duties.[4]The Constitution, as well as the Civil Code, establishes that both parents have parental authority and are required to care for the children.[5]Although Spanish law does not explicitly stipulate that that both women and men can be the head of the household, according to the Civil Code spouses are equal in rights and duties.[6]In the Civil Code it is established that women and men have equal decision-making authority over children after divorce.[7]It also stipulates that, if the parents cannot attain a mutual agreement, child custody will be decided by a judge.[8] 

Women’s inheritance rights as wives are protected under the Civil Code.[9]The law provides girls equal inheritance rights as daughters under the Civil Code.[10] However, some local laws for the inheritance of agricultural land benefit sons in detriment of daughters in places such as Galicia, Asturias and Leon.[11]


Women and men equal rights to initiate divorce under the Civil Code.[12] Low-income citizens have the right to free legal counselling through the Colegio de Abogados (Law Society)[13]. According to data by the Instituto Nacional de Estadistica (INE) (‘National Statistics Institute’), the total number of divorces has doubled from 2003 to 2012.[14]


[1] CEDAW (2004), p.8. [2] Spanish Civil Code, Chapter II, article 44; [3] =CM_Tramite_FA&cid=1109168958196&definicion=Inscripcion+Registro&idConsejeria=1109266187224&idListConsj=1109265444710&pagename=ComunidadMadrid/Estructura&tipoServicio=CM_Tramite_FA [4] rticle 32.1 of the Constitution; Chapter V, Article 66 of the Civil Code [5] Article 39.3 of the Constitution; Articles 110 and 143 of the Civil Code [6] Article 66 of the Civil Code [7] Articles 90, 91 and 92 of the Civil Code [8] Article 159 of the Civil Code [9] Articles 931,932,943 and 954 [10] Articles 931 and 932 [11] (accessed 24/02/2014) [12] Article 86 [13] (accessed 24/02/2014)[14] (accessed 24/02/2014) 


In 2004 Spain passed Law 1/2004, establishing the measures aiming to eradicate gender-based violence, which is defined as a sort of violence directed to women for the very fact of being women and for being considered, by their aggressors, as lacking the minimum rights to liberty, respect and decision-making capacity.[15] However, this law only protects women from violence committed by their partners or former partners. It does not include protection against gender-based violence by other perpetrators.[16]

A national strategy was adopted by the government for the elimination of violence against women for 2013-2016.[17] The objectives of the strategy include improving the institutional response provided by the public authorities, by providing personalised schemes; providing assistance to minors and women that are particularly vulnerable to violence; and raising the visibility of and assisting in other forms of violence against women.

 Several different bodies of laws address domestic violence in Spain. The Penal Code[18]was modified by the 2003 Organic Law No. 11 so that actions formerly considered as simple misdemeanours, such as physically aggressing someone or threatening them with a weapon[19],  would become crimes punishable by imprisonment when related to domestic violence.[20] Later that year law No.27 was passed determining the framework for issuing protection orders for victims of domestic violence. In 2004 the Law No.1 Medidas de Protección Integral contra la Violencia de Género (‘Means for the Integral Protection Against Gender Violence’) was created. This law sought to address the recommendations of the international organizations and accords signed by Spain, such as CEDAW, and to establish integral protection measures aimed at preventing, sanction, eradicate gender and domestic violence.[21]Gender violence is aggravated if the perpetrator is a partner or ex-partner of the victim.[22]

This law includes actions for awareness-raising, prevention and detection in areas as diverse as education, health, advertising and media dissemination.[23] Moreover, this law established the creation of Juzgados de Violencia sobre la Mujer (‘Courts for Violence against Women’).[24]

In order to address the issue of domestic violence, the Primer Plan de Acción contra la Violencia Doméstica (‘First Action Plan against Domestic Violence’) was executed from 1998 to 2000. It included information sessions for victims of domestic violence, trainings for the different Police departments and the Civil Guard, and the creation of specialized care centres for victims and information centres within the Courts and the Prosecutors’ offices.[25]The Second Action Plan against Domestic Violence took place from 2000 to 2004, including sensitization trainings form education, health, safety and judicial professionals; the creation of the Guía Práctica (‘Practical Guide’) for guiding domestic violence victims on the existent legal resources; the creation of Puntos de encuentro, specialized centres for all family members in the situation of domestic violence; the establishment of a domestic violence hotline within the National Guard.[26]The National Police’s Servicio de Atención a la Mujer (SAM) (‘Service to Women’) is a specialized unit for treating gender violence cases.[27]Moreover, the Web de recursos de apoyo y prevención ante casos de violencia de género (WRAP) (‘Online portal for means of support and prevention of gender violence’) was put in place in order to help victims of domestic violence find support systems within their region.[28]

 The Delegación del Gobierno para la violencia de género is the institutional structure that deals with the evaluation of the ‘Ley integral’[29] and provides up to date data. Official data on justice are disseminated through a body in the Consejo General del Poder Judicial, called Observatorio contra la violencia de doméstica y de género[30], in the form of yearly or trimestral reports.[31]According to 2012 data, there were 52 victims of gender-based violence, only 10 of them had reported the offence. 71% percent of the victims were cohabitating with the aggressor and for 73% the aggressor was their partner.[32] 

 According to Amnesty International, 503 women have been murdered by their partners from 2005 to 2012. The number of reported domestic violence cases initially rose after the Integral Protection Against Gender Violence Law was passed in 2004, but the trend is decreasing since 2008. Amnesty International estimates that 73% of all domestic violence cases go unreported. Moreover, around 50% of cases were filed without the pursuit of a judicial process and 37% of protection order requests were rejected. Amnesty also reports that members of the judiciary lack proper training for dealing with domestic violence cases.[33] A study published by the Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo (‘Ministry of Health and Consumers’) established that having rigid conceptions of gender roles is one of the main risk factors for a man to use violence. [34]

 The Spanish Penal Code makes the distinction for rape between sexual aggression (agresión)[35] and sexual abuse (abuso)[36]. Article 178 stipulates that anyone who infringes upon the sexual freedom of another person through violence or intimidation commits the crime of sexual aggression, with imprisonment from one to five years. Article 179 specifies that the introduction of a body part or an object through the body part of the victim is punishable by 12 years of prison. Aggravating circumstances for the crime are enumerated under article 180: if there is more than one aggressor, when the victim is vulnerable (minor, etc), when the victim is a subordinate to the perpetrator, when weapons are used, and if it is a recurring event.  Article 181.1 establishes that infringing upon someone’s sexual freedom without their consent, even when violence or intimidation are not used, is considered as sexual abuse, punishable by imprisonment from 12 to 24 months.

 The definition of rape does not specifically include marital rape. However, in 1992 the Supreme Court ruled that husbands must have the consent of their wife in order to engage in a sexual act.[37] Article 3 of the law 1/2004 protects against sexual assault from current or former partners.[38]

The Programa Daphne was created in 2000 at the European level, among other goals, for enhancing protection of underage rape victims in collaboration with diverse NGOs.[39] Rape victims are advised to contact the National Police’s Servicio de Atención a la Mujer (SAM) (‘Service to Women’).[40]NGOs, such as Centro de Asistencia a Víctimas de Agresiones Sexuales (‘Center for Assistance to Victims of Sexual Assault’) exist to aid victims with legal and psychological support.[41]

 The Penal Code and a 2007 Law criminalizes sexual harassment,[42]which is punished by a fine or incarceration from three to five months. Sexual harassment is defined in the Penal Code as the solicitation of sexual favours in the workplace, in educational settings or during the delivery of services. The crime is aggravated if the perpetrator is a superior to the victim and if the victim is a minor or a person with a disease. Law No. 3 defines, in its article 7, sexual harassment as verbal and non-verbal behaviour of sexual nature that creates a hostile, offensive or degrading environment for the victim.[43]This law requires private and public entities to acknowledge and address cases of sexual harassment.[44]

 According to data by the Secretaría Confederal de la Mujer (‘Confederal Secretary for Women’), 18% of Spanish women have been subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. Examples of harassment include unwanted invasion of personal space, constant pressure to establish a non-professional relationship, solicitation of sexual favours in exchange of professional advancement, and physical aggression by their superior.[45]  The Secretaría Confederal de la Mujer is a department of one of the main syndicates in Spain named ‘Comisiones Obreras’ (CC.OO).[46] The main syndicates in Spain have departments that deal with issues of equality relating to discrimination in the workplace. They also formulate and disseminate information about the Secretaría Confederal de Igualdad del Sindicato Unión General de trabajadores UGT.[47]


Initially decriminalized for certain situations in 1985 through the Organic Law No. 9, abortion restrictions were newly lowered with the Organic Law No. 2 of 2010.[48] The 2010 law sought to reach European standards[49]and established women’s right to access to the voluntary interruption of a pregnancy (up to 14 weeks), as well as to other reproductive services, such as contraception.[50] This law gave women the freedom to decide for an abortion up to the first fourteen weeks of pregnancy. However there are still measures that were not implemented in practice, such as training in sexual and reproductive health in the education system.

 The 2010 law was reviewed by the Parliament in 2014 with a proposed amendment to return to the standards set by the 1985 law, that is, that women may only voluntarily interrupt a pregnancy in certain situations. This proposition did not attract the majority of the votes in the Spanish parliament. The proposed 2013 law, Ley de Protección de la Vida del Concebido y derechos de la mujer embarazada (‘Law for the Protection of the Life of the Conceived and Rights of Pregnant Women’) would only allow abortion when a woman has been raped (has reported the abuse and proceeds to abort before the 12th week) or when her life is in danger (access to an abortion before the 22nd week.) Further restrictions include the obligation to present two separate medical reports on the danger that the pregnancy supposes for the woman. Also, medical centres that provide abortion services are banned from publicizing that they do.[51]


[14] (accessed 24/02/2014) [15] Exposición de motivos I. [16] Ley orgánica 1/2004, de 28 de diciembre, de Medidas de Protección Integral contra la Violencia de Género, [accessed 22/05/2014] [17] Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality. National Strategy for the eradication of violence against women. 2013-2016, [accessed 22/05/20104] [18] Article 173 [19] Article 153 of the Penal Code [20] Law 11/2003. Exposición de motivos III [21] Article 1.2 [22] Title IV of Law 1/2004 [23] Observatorio de Violencia. ttp:// (accessed 26/02/2014) [24] Amnesty International (2012) [25] Pieró Ballesteín, Gema (n.d.) “Intervención En Situaciones De Violencia”; [26] Revista Del Ministerio De Trabajo Y Asuntos Sociales. No.40. (accessed 26/04/2014) 27] (accessed 26/02/2014) [28] (accessed 26/04/2014)[29] Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad (n.d.), Funciones Delegación del Gobierno para la Violencia de Género, [accessed 22/05/20104] [30] Poder Judicial (n.d.), El Observatorio contra la violencia doméstica y de género, ttp:// [accessed  22/05/20104] [31] Poder Judicial (n.d.), Memorias, ttp:// accessed 22/05/20104]; [32] Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad.Información estadística de violencia de género. Informe Anual - Año 2012. p.4[33] Amnesty International (2012) “QUÉ JUSTICIA ESPECIALIZADA A siete años de la Ley Integral contra la Violencia de Género: Obstáculos al acceso y obtención de justicia y protección” ttps:// PUB&DOCR=1&RNG=10&FMT=SIAIWEB3.fmt&SEPARADOR=&&INAI=EUR4110412 (26/02/2014) [34] Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo España (2003). “Violencia Doméstica”. (accessed 26/04/2014) [35] Article 178 [36] Article 181.1 [37] Supreme Court,. Ruling 3423/1992. ction=contentpdf&databasematch=TS&reference=3141413&links=sexual&optimize=20030918&publicinter> [38] Ley orgánica 1/2004, de 28 de diciembre, de Medidas de Protección Integral contra la Violencia de Género,[39] CEDAW/C/ESP/5 (Spanish version) (2004), p. 28-29 [40] (accessed 26/02/2014) [41] (accessed 26/02/2014) [42] Article 184 [43] Ley orgánica 3/2007, de 22 de marzo, para la igualdad effective de Mujeres y hombres, [accessed 22/05/2014] [44] Articles 14, 27 and 46 [45] Observatorio de Violencia. (accessed 24/02/2014) [46] Confederación sindical de comisiones obreras (n.d.), Secretaría Confederal de la Mujer e Igualdad de CCOO, [accessed 22/05/2014] 47] GT (n.d.), Mujer Trabajadora, [accessed 22/05/2014] [48] Ley Orgánica 2/2010, de 3 de marzo, de salud sexual y reproductiva y de la interrupción voluntaria del embarazo, [49] European Court of Human Rights, ruling of 20/03/2007 [50] Article 12 [51] Ministry of Justice Website (accessed  09/04/2014)



The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2014 is 0.97, while the sex ratio at birth is 1.07.[52]There is no evidence to suggest that Spain is a country of concern in relation to missing women.


In 2012, the mortality rate for male children under five was 5 (per 1,000), compared to 4 for female children.[53]

 In 2010 and 2011, there were more boys out of school than girls. [54] There is virtually no gender gap in pre-primary and primary education. For secondary education, the gender gap is very small, slightly benefiting females. Finally, literacy rates are similar for male and female youth aged 15 to 24.[55]

While the OECD offers information about time-use for adults in Spain, data about the way household chores are divided between girls and boys is not provided.[56] Nonetheless, according to 2010-2012 data from the World Bank, females are more likely to be contributing family workers than males, that is, to hold "self-employment jobs" as own-account workers in a market-oriented establishment operated by a related person living in the same household.[57]


[52] CIA. (accessed 09/04/2014) [53] UNICEF. ttp:// (accessed 09/04/2014) [54] World Bank Development Indicators Database ttp:// (accessed 09/04/2014) [55] UNICEF. ttp:// (accessed 09/04/2014) [56] OECD. (accessed 1/04/2014) [57] World Bank Development Indicators Database (accessed 1/04/2014)  


Women and men are granted the right to own land under the Civil Code. Moreover, Law No. 3 of 2007 established joint ownership[58] and that the State must promote new business activities to support economic activities of women in rural areas.[59] However, in practice the effects of the law are very limited.[60] The guidelines for granting financial support to rural women are established under Order APA/1899 in 2006.[61]

In Spain, women’s agrarian movements have reported that there are serious gaps in terms of gender statistics, as data on land ownership is seldom disaggregated by sex.[62] Moreover, in some regions of Spain, agricultural labour is still considered an activity reserved for men.[63]

The right to property is established under the Civil Code’s article 348 and article 33 of the Constitution. Moreover, the Civil Code establishes that, unless separation of property was established before the celebration of the marriage, both spouses have equal rights regarding property.[64]

 No evidence was found of legislation restricting women’s access to financial services.

In Spain 92% of women have an account in a formal financial institution, compared to 95% to men.[65]

The Instituto de la Mujer (‘Women’s Institute’) has several micro-credit programmes for women. The Convocatoria del Régimen General (‘General Regime’s Call) is one example of government support for promoting women’s entrepreneurship in rural areas. In 2001, 117 programmes were endorsed and 116 in 2002.[66] Women were not required to present a guarantee to receive the grants. [67] These programmes are developed in collaboration with women’s organisations, who also offered to play an advisory role for women entrepreneurs.[68]However there is currently no funding for this service and the governmental agreement is simply in the form of a convention with a financial body,[69] to which the potential beneficiaries have to apply.


[58] Article 30 [59] Article 8 [60] Ministerio de Agricultura, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente (n.d.), Titularidad compartida en las explotaciones agrarias, ttp:// [accessed 22/05/2014] [61] (accessed 27/02/2014) [62] Revista Soberanía Alimentaria accessed 27/02/2014) [63] (accessed 27/02/2014) [64] Articles 1320 and 1375 [65] World Economic Forum. The Gender Gap Report 2013. p.340 [66] CEDAW/C/ESP/5 (Spanish version) (2004), p.12 [67] CEDAW/C/ESP/5 (Spanish  version) (2004), p.64 [68] Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad (n.d.), Programa de Microcréditos, ttp:// [accessed 22/05/2014] [69] Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad (n.d.),  El Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad y Microbank firman un convenio para abrir microcréditos a mujeres empresarias, ttps:// [accessed 22/05/2014]    


Equal access to public space and freedom of movement, as well as freedom to choose one’s place of residence, are granted by the Spanish Constitution.[70] No evidence was found of restrictions of these rights for women. The Constitution grants all citizens the rights to freedom of expression[71] and freedom of assembly and association.[72] No information was found on discriminatory practices restricting women's freedom of expression, public collective action and freedom of assembly.

 There is a strong feminist movement in Spain, with civil society organisations that actively push for a gender equality agenda and its inclusion in public policies. For example, as a result of the recent reforms to restrict women’s access to the voluntary termination of a pregnancy, thousands of people have taken the streets in protest, including women’s movements.[73] The Organic Law 3/2007 recognised the interaction of the government with civil society organisations specialised in equality of opportunities and led to the creation of the Consejo de participación de la Mujer (article 78) as a consulting and advising body in which civil society organisations can participate. Civil society organisations can also participate in other bodies responsible for the follow-up of public policies, such as the Observatorio estatal contra la violencia de género, from the government delegation.[74]

 The Organic Law on Regime of General Elections established that lists of candidates must not contain less than 40% of each sex.[75] This law applies for national and sub-national elections. In addition, seven parties have voluntarily established quotas within their internal rules.[76]

In 2014 there are 126 female members in the lower house of Congress, out of 350 seats, which represents 36%. In the upper house, there are 91 women, out of 266 seats, (34%).[77]


The Labour Code established  equal pay for women and men.[78]Moreover, the Royal Decree 562 (2004) created the Secretaría General de Políticas de Igualdad (‘General Secretariat for Equality Policies’) within the Ministry of Labour and Social Security. However this body no longer exists. From 2008-2010 there was a Ministry for Equality, and  currently, the structure that deals with Equality policies in general in the workplace is composed of several bodies: the Secretaría de Estado, a Social Services Department within the Ministerio de Sanidad Servicios Sociales e igualdad, and the Delegación del gobierno para la violencia de género. In addition, there is an autonomous body, the Instituto de la Mujer (Women’s Intitute).[79]

 A 1999 Law was created to promote the reconciliation of family and professional life for all people. Article 48 of the Labour Code grants 16 weeks of maternity leave, 100% paid, plus 2 weeks of paternity leave.[80] The Organic Law 3/2007 made great strides in terms of workplace rights and parental leave, including an exclusive paternity leave for fathers of 15 days that was supposed to be extended proportionally. This law also established the balance of family and work responsibilities as a right for all employees, and required employers to implement favourable equality measures within their companies. The recent reform approved in February 2012[81] has restricted the effectiveness of some of the measures, by increasing the employers’ capacity to establish a work schedule without consulting with employees and by limiting the possibility of collective negotiation.

[70] Article 19 [71] Article 20 [72] Articles 21 and 22 [73] 27/02/2014) [74] Ministerio de Sanidad, Servicios Sociales e Igualdad (n.d.), Observatorio Estatal de Violencia sobre la Mujer, ttp:// [75] Article 44 [76] (accessed 27/02/2014) [77] (accessed on 02/27/2014)[78] Article 28 [79] Instituto de la Mujer (n.d.) [80] World Economic Forum. The Global Gender Gap Report 2013. p.84 ; (accessed on 02/27/2014) [81] Boletín Oficial del Estado (2012), Real Decreto-Ley 3/2012, de 10 de febrero, de medidas urgentes para la reforma del mercado laboral, [accessed 22/05/2014] 


Agencia Estatal Boletín Oficial del Estado (2012).

Amnesty International (2012) “QUÉ JUSTICIA ESPECIALIZADA A siete años de la Ley Integral contra la Violencia de Género: Obstáculos al acceso y obtención de justicia y protección” (26/02/2014).

CEDAW (2003). “Convención sobre la eliminación de todas las formas de discriminación contra la mujer”, (accessed 12/11/2014)

Centro de Asistencia a Victimas de Agresiones Sexuales (CAVAS) (accessed 24/02/2014).

CIA. (accessed 09/04/2014).

Confederación sindical de comisiones obreras (n.d.), Secretaría Confederal de la Mujer e Igualdad de CCOO, (accessed 22/05/2014).

European Court of Human Rights, ruling of 20/03/2007 ,

European Judicial Portal. (accessed 24/02/2014).

FAO (2014) (accessed 24/02/2014).

Human Rights Watch (accessed 24/02/2014).

Inter-Parliamentary Union. (accessed on 02/27/2014).

International Labour Organization. (accessed on 02/27/2014).

Instituto de la Mujer (n.d.) (accessed on 02/27/2014)/

Law 11/2003 (2003) (accessed 12/11/2014)

Law 1/2004 (2004) (accessed 12/11/2014)

Law 3/2007 (2007) (accessed 12/11/2014)

Law 2/2010 (2010) (accessed 12/11/2014)

Ministry of Agriculture, Alimentation and Envrionment (n.d.), Titularidad compartida en las explotaciones agrarias, [accessed 22/05/2014].

Ministry of Justice Website (accessed  09/04/2014).

Ministry of Health, Social Services and Equality (n.d.), Funciones Delegación del Gobierno para la Violencia de Género, [accessed 22/05/20104].

National Police (accessed 26/02/2014).

National Statistics Institute. Press Note from 26 September 2013. (accessed 24/02/2014).

Observatorio de Violencia. (accessed 24/02/2014).

OECD (2011). “Time use for work, care and other day-to-day activities”, OECD Social Policy Division (accessed 12/11/2014).

Pieró Ballesteín, Gema (n.d.) “Intervención En Situaciones De Violencia”

Revista Del Ministerio De Trabajo Y Asuntos Sociales. No.40. [accessed 26/04/2014].

Spanish Civil Code (1889) (accessed 12/11/2014)

Spanish Constitution (1978) (accessed 12/11/2014)

Supreme Court Ruling 3423/1992 (1992)> (accessed 12/11/2014)

UGT (n.d.), Mujer Trabajadora, (accessed 24/02/2014).

Quota Project. (accessed 27/02/2014).

Web de recursos de apoyo y prevención ante casos de violencia de género (WRAP) (accessed 24/02/2014).

World Bank Development Indicators Database (accessed 09/04/2014).

World Economic Forum (2013). The Gender Gap Report 2013, (accessed 12/11/2014) 

Legal Age of Marriage: 
Early Marriage: 
Parental Authority During Marriage: 
Parental Authority After Divorce: 
Inheritance Rights For Widows: 
Inheritance Rights For Daughters: 
Very Low
Attitudes Towards Violence Against Women: 
Prevalence Of Domestic Violence: 
Laws Addressing Domestic Violence: 
Laws Addressing Rape: 
Laws Addressing Sexual Harassment: 
Female Genital Mutilation: 
Reproductive Autonomy: 
Missing Women: 
Fertility Preferences: 
Very Low
Secure Access To Land: 
Secure Access To Non-Land Assets: 
Access To Financial Services: 
Very Low
Access To Public Space: 
Political Quotas: 
Political Participation: