Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape of women is illegal and carries sentences ranging from 10 years’ to life imprisonment. The rape law does not prohibit male rape, but the government used an anti-buggery law to prosecute victims of male rape. The Directorate of Gender Affairs reported the number of rape survivors coming forward increased as a result of a crisis hotline and the directorate’s awareness campaign.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, continued to be a serious problem. The law prohibits and provides penalties for domestic violence.
New legislation targets perpetrators of domestic violence. Several domestic violence programs provided training for law enforcement officers, health-care professionals, counselors, social workers, immigration officers, and army officers,
Sexual Harassment: The law does not specifically define sexual harassment. According to the Ministry of Labor, there was a high incidence of sexual harassment in the private and public sectors. The labor court requires a safe working environment for all persons, thus enabling the court to address harassment cases, although no such cases were filed during the year.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/ .
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women and men. Legislation requires equal pay for equal work. The labor code stipulates it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an individual because of his or her gender.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is acquired by birth in the country, and the government registers all children at birth. Children born to citizen parents abroad can be registered by either of their parents.
Child Abuse: Child abuse remained a serious problem. Neglect was the most common form of child abuse, followed by physical abuse, although according to the press, rape and sexual abuse of children, including of girls as young as eight years of age, was also a problem. In extreme cases the government removes the children from their home and puts them in foster care or into a government or private children’s home.
The government held public outreach events concerning detection and prevention of child abuse and also offered training for foster parents regarding how to detect child abuse and how to work with abused children. The government’s welfare office also provided counseling services for children and parents and often referred parents to the National Parent Counseling Center. A family court handled child abuse cases, providing faster prosecution and more general handling of family and welfare cases. The law governs the investigation and assessment of child abuse cases. It also includes provisions on orders of care and child-care services.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 years for both men and women. Children between 15 and 18 may marry with parental consent; however, underage marriage was rare.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The minimum age for consensual sex is 16 years. Authorities brought charges against few offenders. Child pornography is illegal and subject to fines of up to 250,000 eastern Caribbean dollars (XCD) ($92,600) and 10 years in prison.
International Child Abductions: The government is not a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
The Jewish community was very small, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The constitution contains antidiscrimination provisions, but no specific laws prohibit discrimination against or mandate accessibility for persons with disabilities. There were anecdotal cases of children with disabilities who were unable to take themselves to the restroom and thus were denied entry to school. Additionally, anecdotal evidence suggested support for persons with mental disabilities was lacking. Public areas, including government buildings, often lack wheelchair accessibility. The government improved access to workplaces for persons with disabilities by revising building codes and included disabled persons in youth education programs.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Consensual same-sex sexual activity for males is illegal under indecency statutes; however, the law was not strictly enforced. Consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adult men carries a maximum penalty of 15 years.
Although improved, societal attitudes toward homosexuality impeded operation of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) organizations. The government commenced an initiative to facilitate dialogue between LGBTI groups. There were limited reports of discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in a variety of settings. There were no reports of violence committed against LGBTI persons due to their real or perceived sexual orientation.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Some persons claimed that fear, stigma, and discrimination impaired the willingness of HIV-positive persons to obtain treatment, and HIV-positive persons reported several incidents of discrimination from health-care professionals and police. Anecdotal evidence also suggested employers dismissed and discriminated against employees with HIV/AIDS.
The Ministry of Health supported local NGO efforts to register human rights complaints and seek assistance in cases of discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. The ministry also trained a number of health care professionals and police officers in antidiscriminatory practices. The Ministry of Labor encouraged employers to be more sensitive to employees with HIV/AIDS, and the ministry conducted sensitivity training for employers who requested it. The ministry reported that stigmatization of HIV-positive persons, while still a significant problem, had decreased, especially among police.
Other Societal Violence or Discrimination
Rastafarians complained of discrimination, especially in hiring and in schools, but the government took no specific action to address such complaints.