Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and stipulates a sentence of flogging or up to 15 years’ imprisonment for a conviction of any nonconsensual form of sex. Authorities referred 64 charges involving rape or related charges for prosecution, and the court convicted 53 persons during the year.
According to women’s rights monitors, violence against women remained a serious and pervasive problem. In May, the Domestic Violence against Women Act entered into force, and the government launched a National Protocol on Domestic Abuse and Violence Against Women. The law prohibits domestic violence and provides for penalties at the discretion of the presiding judge based on the severity of the offense. Police and judicial authorities usually acted promptly in cases of domestic violence. Sentences for assault against a spouse vary according to the severity of the incident. A shelter accommodating approximately 12 battered and abused women and their children operated in the northern part of the country, staffed by medical and psychological counseling personnel. Victims and persons seeking to report cases of abuse could contact the Ministry of Social Development and local ministry offices in three parishes and the island of Carriacou. However, domestic violence remained underreported as many women were economically dependent on the perpetrators.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but there are no criminal penalties for it, although the government quantified it as a persistent problem. It is the responsibility of the complainant to bring a civil suit against an alleged harasser.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and had access to contraception as well as obstetric and postnatal care. According to UN Population Fund estimates, 99 percent of births were attended by skilled health personnel and 52 percent of women aged 15-49 used a modern method of contraception. Women and men had equal access to reproductive health care.
Discrimination: Women generally enjoyed the same rights as men, and there was no evidence of official discrimination in employment or education; however, women frequently earned less than men performing the same work. Due in part to factors like post-hurricane reconstruction, the poor economy, and high levels of unemployment, women worked in nontraditional fields such as carpentry and construction. Television and radio public service announcements continued to combat spousal abuse and raise women’s awareness of their rights.