Violence Against Women in Mongolia
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Population of women: 1,365,600/2,701,100
Life expectancy of women (at birth): 71
School life expectancy for women: 15
Women's adult literacy:
Unemployment of women: 3.6%
Women engaged in economic activity: 68%


Source: U.N. Statistics Division, Social Indicators, updated June 2011


last updated 22 March 2012


Discrimination against Mongolian women persists in many areas, including political life, the workplace, and home. Various laws, such as the Mongolian Constitution, Labour Law, Criminal Code, Civil Code, and Family Law contain provisions to promote gender equality. There are two provisions in the Mongolian Constitution relevant to gender equality: Article 16(11) provides for equal rights among women and men in political, economic, social, cultural, and family life and Article 14 of the Constitution prohibits discrimination based on several grounds, including sex. The 1999 Labor Law prohibits discrimination in employment and contains a section addressing maternity rights. Despite provisions such as these, the lack of enforcement mechanisms inhibit the realization of gender equality.

According to the 2010 U.S. State Department Report on Human Rights Practices, there are currently forty women’s rights service and advocacy groups in Mongolia dealing with issues of maternal and child health, domestic violence, and equal opportunity. In addition to the Ministry of Social Welfare and Labor's Division for Women and Youth Issues, the Mongolian government has a National Committee on Gender Equality.

Domestic violence is a serious problem for women in Mongolia. The National Center Against Violence (NCAV) estimated that, in 2010, one in three women was a victim of domestic violence and one in ten was a victim of battering.  While restraining orders are available to women suffering from abuse, they are often poorly enforced. The NCVA reported that 484 restraining orders were issued in 2010, but they usually only applied while the victim was in a shelter. NCAV runs five shelters for victims of domestic abuse, currently the only shelters available. Rural populations face the worst domestic violence rates due to a lack of funding for services and a belief that domestic violence is a private matter.

The existing domestic violence law was deemed insufficient for several reasons, including a lack of deterrence, inadequate victim protection, and the lack of legislation that would specifically prohibit spousal rape. Once the offender was prosecuted, there was no other known police or government intervention in domestic violence cases. Furthermore, authorities often used the Administrative Responsibility Law instead of the Criminal Code to respond to domestic violence. This law punished arguments or fighting by a fine or administrative detention for seven to thirty days; generally, only the fine was imposed on the offender. The Parliament of Mongolia unanimously adopted a Domestic Violence Law on 13 May 2004. According to a UNIFEM press release, women's groups in the country had lobbied for the bill's passage since 1996; UNIFEM and other U.N. bodies provided training and support for the groups to effectively influence the policy process. The Advocates for Human Rights issued comments on the domestic violence law.

Sexual harassment of Mongolian women is a widespread problem exacerbated by traditional attitudes and the risk of unemployment. The United States Department of State reports that of unemployed women under the age of 35, one-half were self-reported victims of workplace sexual harassment. In an effort combat this problem, Parliament passed a law "On Promotion of Gender Equality" (Mongolian) to address systematic sexual harassment in February 2011.

Rape is illegal in Mongolia under Article 126 of Mongolia's Criminal Code, which states:

"Sexual intercourse by physical violence, threat of violence or in other forms, or by taking advantage of helpless state of the victim, as well as by humiliating the victim shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of up to 5 years. The same crime committed: by humiliating or torturing the victim; inflicting a severe or a less severe bodily injury; repeatedly; rape of a person under the legal age; in a group or by group at an advance agreement shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of more than 5 to 10 years. The same crime committed by a recidivist, rape of a child under the age of 14, or rape entailing death or the victim or another grave harm shall be punishable by imprisonment for a term of more than 15 to 25 years or the death penalty."

There is no law specifically targeting spousal rape, and local NGOs state that rape is generally underreported. 

The U.S. State Department's 2011 Trafficking in Persons Report cites Mongolia as both a source and transit country for trafficking in persons. The National Plan of Action on Commercial Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children and Women was originally passed in March 2005, and it was later extended to run through 2012. Additionally, the Criminal Code penalizes various aspects of trafficking, including the sale or purchase of human beings. Article 113 of the criminal code states that selling or acquiring a human is punishable by 3 years of imprisonment. If the sale or purchase is related to prostitution or involves a minor, the punishment increases to 5 to 10 years. The Mongolian Supreme Court's interpretation of Article 113, allows for only a very narrow application of these articles. Many cases of trafficking are actually tried as "forced prostitution." While the federal government continues to make efforts to address trafficking, including creating a Special Investigation Unit, funding for these efforts have been minimal.

Compiled from:

2010 Country Report on Human Rights Practices: Mongolia, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, U.S. Department of State, 8 April 2011.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Ms. Radhika Coomaraswamy, submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2002/52, 27 February 2003. (PDF, 435 pages).

Gender Briefing Kit, UN Development Programme Ulaanbaatar, 2000. (PDF, 43 pages).

The Crime of Trafficking of Women and Children in Mongolia: the Current Situation, National Human Rights Commission of Mongolia and Center for Human Rights and Development, 2002.

Human Rights Baseline Study, UN Development Programme. (PDF, 49 pages).