Rape and Domestic Violence: Anecdotal evidence suggested rape was a serious and pervasive problem in society but was not frequently reported due to victims’ fear of stigma, retribution, or further violence. The law prohibits rape, but it does not address spousal rape. Penalties for rape range from two years’ imprisonment for incest between minors to life imprisonment for statutory rape or incest with someone under 16. Indecent assault has a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment. There were 19 cases of rape and 21 cases of indecent assault reported during the year. There were some prosecutions for rape during the year, but no information was available about outcomes.
Violence against women was also a serious and pervasive problem. The law criminalizes domestic violence, including emotional abuse, and provides penalties of up to EC$13,500 ($5,000) or six months in prison. Although many women were reluctant to file complaints or pursue them in the courts, the Ministry of Gender Affairs handled 197 cases of domestic abuse during the year. Authorities sent 78 cases to trial, obtained 51 convictions, and had the remainder under investigation or pending at year’s end.
The ministry offered counseling for victims of abuse and conducted training on domestic and gender violence for officials in the police and fire departments, nurses, school guidance counselors, and other government employees. The ministry also worked with men’s organizations to conduct training focused on sexual violence and conducted training in the prisons targeted towards those who battered women. The ministry maintained a hotline for domestic violence victims and worked through the churches, workplaces, radio programs, and other civil society groups to spread its campaign against sexual violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law does not specifically address sexual harassment, and it remained a problem. Complainants reported only two cases to the Ministry of Gender Affairs in 2010.
Reproductive rights: Reproductive rights were generally protected; couples and individuals had the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of children. The National Family Planning Office provided information on contraception and support for reproductive rights on a nondiscriminatory basis. Skilled attendance at delivery and in postpartum care was widely available. A 2008 report by the UN Children’s Fund indicated that skilled attendance at birth was 100 percent and estimated the contraceptive prevalence rate at 54 percent. Incidence of maternal mortality was not available. Women and men were given equal access to diagnostic services and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.
Discrimination: The role of women in society is not restricted by law but was circumscribed by culture and tradition. Despite this, the status of women has improved, particularly in the public sector. The Ministry of Gender Affairs reported that 62 percent of women in the civil service occupied public sector leadership positions. The ministry conducted programs addressing poverty and health and promoting institutional mechanisms to advance the status of women and attain leadership positions for women. Although no legislation requires equal pay for equal work, women and men generally received equal salaries for comparable jobs.