Domestic violence in Panama is a serious problem. The Family Code criminalizes rape, spousal rape, and family violence, including psychological, physical, or sexual abuse, and provides prison terms of one to five years. There are few convictions for domestic violence because victims generally chose spousal therapy over prosecution. Abusers are commonly convicted of unintentional killing in cases of spousal death. Between January and September 2006 the PTJ had registered 1,224 cases of domestic violence, 588 cases of rape, and 120 cases of attempted rape. The PTJ reported that it investigated every case it received during the year. Between January and December 2006 the DRPO reported that it had received 336 cases of domestic violence.
Spouses or other family members frequently perpetrated domestic violence. The Foundation for the Promotion of Woman and the Center of Colon Women, among other women's advocacy groups and government agencies, operated programs to assist victims of abuse and to educate women on their legal rights.