A national system of social insurance covers all of Lithuania's residents and was most recently updated in 2000. Old age, sickness, disability, and unemployment benefits are paid on an earnings-related basis, from contributions by both employers and employees. Family allowance benefits are provided by states and municipalities to families with low incomes. There is a universal system of medical care, and a dual social insurance and social assistance program for maternity and health payments. Unemployment benefits are provided to applicants with at least 24 months of previous contributions and is paid for a period not exceeding six months.
Legally, men and women have equal status, including equal pay for equal work, although in practice women are underrepresented in managerial and professional positions. Discrimination against women in the workplace persists. Violence against women, especially domestic abuse, is common. Child abuse is a serious social problem, and in 1995 the government ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Authorities link the upsurge in child abuse to alcoholism.
Human rights are generally respected in Lithuania, and human rights organizations are permitted to operate freely and openly. One concern is the Preventive Detention Law, renewed in 1995, which allows persons suspected of violent crime to be held for up to two months while the crime is investigated. Prolonged detention still occurs in some of cases, and poor prison conditions persist.