Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape of women, but it does not address spousal rape. St. Kitts and Nevis continues to utilize an antibuggery statute to address male rape. Anecdotal evidence suggested that rape–including spousal rape–was a serious and pervasive problem. Penalties for rape range from two years’ imprisonment for incest between minors to life imprisonment for statutory rape or incest with someone under 16 years of age. Indecent assault has a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment. Those arrested and prosecuted for rape and indecent assault received strict sentences.
Violence against women continued to be a serious and pervasive problem. The law criminalizes domestic violence, including emotional abuse, and provides penalties of up to $13,500 East Caribbean dollars (XCD) ($5,000) or six months in prison.
There was no crisis hotline. The Department of Gender Affairs advocated for a more effective method of reporting domestic violence and sexual assault, including establishing a complaints and response protocol. The department also coordinated counseling for survivors of abuse and fielded officers who maintained contact with civil society organizations, prisons, and schools.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment falls within the purview of the Protection of Employment Act, but there is no law that explicitly addresses sexual harassment. Anecdotal evidence suggested sexual harassment was a problem in the workplace, although the Ministry of Community Development, Culture, and Gender Affairs did not receive any cases under the act 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 women the same legal status and rights as men, and the government effectively enforced it. The law requires equal remuneration, and women and men generally received equal salaries for comparable jobs. Women had equal access to leadership roles in the private and public sectors.
Birth Registration: Children acquire citizenship by birth in the country, and all children are registered at birth. Children born to citizen parents abroad may be registered by either of their parents.
Child Abuse: Child abuse remained a major problem. According to the government, neglect was the most common form of abuse, while physical abuse, including sexual molestation, also remained prevalent and widespread.
In child abuse cases, the law allows children to testify against their alleged attackers using remote technologies such as Skype. Other solutions, such as placing a physical barrier in the courtroom, were also employed to assist victims. Moreover, the Ministries of Social Services and Education collaborated on programs to curb child abuse, including modifying the primary school curriculum and designating a child abuse awareness month in November.
The St. Christopher Children’s Home served abused and neglected children and received quarterly funding and logistical support from the government.
The government offered counseling for both adult and child victims of abuse. Additionally, the government maintained a diversion program to provide youth and their families with life skills, counseling, parenting skills, and mentorship.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 years for both men and women. Underage marriage was rare.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: NGOs reported that sexual exploitation and molestation of children remained a major problem. NGOs also reported that adolescent transactional sex remained a problem. The law sets the age of consent at 16 years. Having sexual relations with children under age 16 is illegal, with penalties ranging from probation to life in prison, but no cases were prosecuted during the year. Child pornography is illegal and carries a penalty of up to 20 years in prison.
International Child Abductions: The country is 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.
There was no organized Jewish community, and there were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
While there were no confirmed reports during the year that St. Kitts and Nevis was a source, destination, or transit country for victims of human trafficking, human rights activists alleged some sex workers were victims of trafficking and that human smugglers regularly transited through the country. Some of the smuggled victims were allegedly labor trafficked.
Persons with Disabilities
The law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities, and persons with disabilities experienced discrimination, particularly in regard to accessibility. The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but it was not always followed or enforced. Children with disabilities attended school, although some parents of students with disabilities preferred to have their child stay at home. There was a separate school for students with disabilities, although many local schools were able to accommodate students with physical disabilities.
The law allows authorities to declare persons with mental disabilities who commit crimes a menace to society and incarcerate them for life. Ministry of Health nurses in the various district health centers provided support services to persons with mental disabilities, and the general hospital had a wing dedicated to caring for patients with mental disabilities.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity between men, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison, but there were no reports the government enforced the law. No laws prohibit discrimination against a person on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
Negative societal attitudes towards the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) community impeded the operation of LGBTI organizations and the free association of LGBTI persons. The government asserted it received no reports of violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation; however, unofficial reports indicated that violence and discrimination were problems. LGBTI activists reported an increase in threats of blackmail and fear of discrimination. During the year the LGBTI community and the police conducted gender sensitization training.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Anecdotal evidence suggested that societal discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS occurred. The Labor Ministry enforced a specific antidiscrimination policy covering HIV/AIDS in the workplace.