Latvia - Social development

Social insurance provides benefits for old age, disability, and survivorship pensions for employees and self-employed persons. Pensions are funded by contributions from employees and employers in most sectors. The government funds programs to provide for active military personnel, individuals caring for infants, and spouses of diplomatic staff. Sickness and maternity benefits are provided to employed persons, while medical benefits are provided to all permanent residents. A universal program of family allowances exists, as well as workers' compensation and unemployment programs.

Employment discrimination based on gender is legally banned, although women are barred from certain occupations considered dangerous. In practice, women face unequal treatment in terms of both pay and hiring, including discrimination stemming from the cost of legally mandated childbirth benefits if a woman is hired. Sexual harassment is common in the workplace although prohibited by law. Domestic violence is pervasive. There are no shelters for abused or battered women, and few resources exist for victims of sexual assault.

Latvia's main human rights problem in recent years stems from the large number of minorities who were not granted citizenship after independence. These noncitizens, mainly ethnic Russians, do not have clear travel, property, and residency rights. Instances of excessive use of force by security forces were still reported, and prison conditions remained poor.

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