Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and prescribes penalties for rape or forcible sexual assault of between 12 and 15 years’ imprisonment and fines up to 100,000 Surinamese dollars (SRD) ($12,820). The government enforced the law effectively. Police received 218 reports of sexual abuse as of September. Authorities investigated and prosecuted all reported cases.
Violence against women remained a serious and pervasive problem. The law imposes sentences of four to eight years’ imprisonment for domestic violence. Through September police received 870 reports of domestic abuse, down from 1,122 reports for the same period in 2015. Domestic abuse played a role in eight of the 27 homicides committed through September; prosecutions were pending.
The Victim Assistance Bureau of the Ministry of Justice and Police provided resources for victims of domestic violence and continued to raise awareness about domestic violence through public television programs. There were victims’ rooms in police stations in Paramaribo and Nickerie. Authorities trained police units in dealing with survivors and perpetrators of sexual crimes and domestic violence. The Victim Assistance Bureau managed a shelter for female victims of domestic violence and children up to age 12 and served an average of 40 clients per year.
Authorities reported an average of 20 requests per week for restraining orders, primarily from women seeking protection from abusive partners. When granted, the restraining orders instruct the partners not to communicate with victims or otherwise contact them.
Sexual Harassment: There is no specific legislation on sexual harassment, but prosecutors cited various penal code articles in filing sexual harassment cases. There were no reported court cases involving sexual harassment in the workplace.
Stalking is a criminal offense, and police may investigate possible cases of stalking without the filing of a formal complaint. Pending investigation, police may issue temporary restraining orders limiting contact between victim and suspect for up to 30 days. If found guilty, offenders can receive prison sentences ranging from four to 12 years and fines from SRD 50,000 to 150,000 ($6,400 to $19,200).
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children; manage their reproductive health; and have access to the information and means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Access to information on modern contraception was widely available and, according to 2013 data from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 47 percent of women ages 15-49 used modern contraceptive methods. Although more than 90 percent of births took place under the care of skilled health-care practitioners, the United Nations reported a maternal mortality rate of approximately 155 deaths per 100,000 live births. The causes for this high rate were primarily linked to pregnancy-induced hypertension (20 percent) and complications during labor and delivery (16 percent).
Discrimination: The law provides for protection of women’s rights to equal access to education, employment, and property. Societal pressures and customs, especially in rural areas, inhibited the full exercise of these rights, particularly with respect to marriage and inheritance.
Men and women generally enjoy the same legal rights, but where citizens observed traditional local customs, these rights were somewhat infringed. The Bureau for Women and Children under the Ministry of Justice and Police was responsible for protecting the legal rights of women and children. Women experienced discrimination in access to employment and in rates of pay for the same or substantially similar work. The government did not undertake specific efforts to combat economic discrimination.