Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, which is punishable by 14 years’ to life imprisonment. The law criminalizes spousal rape only when a couple is divorced or separated or when there is a protection order from the Family Court. “Roungement”–the practice of parents’ accepting monetary compensation to settle rape and sexual assault cases out of court– is prohibited by law, but it was rarely prosecuted and commonly practiced.
Sexual assault remained a problem. The government held a national dialogue on violence against women and children that identified gaps and produced recommendations to improve the government’s ability to investigate and prosecute rape.
Domestic violence was also a significant problem. While police were willing to arrest offenders, the government prosecuted crimes of violence against women only when the victim pressed charges. The law provides penalties for domestic violence ranging from five years’ to life imprisonment. Shelters, a hotline, police training, and a national protocol were used to deal with the problem, but the lack of financial security for the victim was one of the key impediments. The maximum amount of child support that the court may award a woman is 250 East Caribbean dollars ($93) per month per child. Police also faced problems, such as a lack of transportation, which at times prevented them from responding to a call in a timely manner. The Saint Lucia Crisis Center, a nongovernmental organization receiving government assistance, maintained a facility for battered women and their children and a hotline for support. The only residential facility for victims of domestic abuse, the Women’s Support Center operated by the Department of Gender Relations, also received government funding.
The Ministry of Education, Innovation, Gender Relations, and Sustainable Development assisted victims. Authorities referred most of the cases to a counselor, and police facilitated the issuance of court protection orders in some cases. The Department of Gender Relations operated a number of gender-based violence prevention programs in schools and community-based groups.
The Family Court hears cases of domestic violence and crimes against women and children. The court can issue a protection order prohibiting an abuser from entering or remaining in the residence of a specified person. The court remands perpetrators to a batterers’ intervention program for rehabilitation. The court employed full-time social workers to assist victims of domestic violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but it remained a problem, as government enforcement was not an effective deterrent. The Department of Gender Relations continued an awareness program;, most cases of sexual harassment were handled in the workplace rather than prosecuted under the law.
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 for the same legal status and rights for women as for men. The law requires equal pay for equal work. Women were underrepresented in the labor force, had higher levels of unemployment than men, and sometimes received lower pay or faced additional informal hurdles gaining access to credit. The law provides equal treatment for family property, nationality, and inheritance.
Birth Registration: Children receive citizenship by birth to a parent with citizenship. Women can equally pass on citizenship to their children, but the foreign husband of a Saint Lucian woman does not automatically receive Saint Lucian citizenship, unlike the foreign wife of a Saint Lucian man. Authorities provided birth certificates to parents without undue administrative delay.
Child Abuse: Child abuse remained a problem. The Department of Human Services and Family Affairs handled cases of sexual abuse, physical abuse, abandonment, and psychological abuse. Although the government condemned the practice, parents of sexually abused children sometimes declined to press sexual assault charges against the abuser in exchange for financial contributions toward the welfare of the victims. Nonetheless, courts heard some child sexual abuse cases, and convicted and sentenced offenders.
The human services division provided services to victims of child abuse, including a home for severely abused and neglected children, counseling, facilitating medical intervention, finding foster care, providing family support services, and supporting the child while working with police and attending court.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 for men and women, but 16 with parental consent.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Laws on sexual offenses cover rape, unlawful sexual connection, and unlawful sexual intercourse with children under 16. The age of consent is 16, but a consent defense may be cited if the victim is between 12 and 16. The law prohibits forced labor or sex trafficking of children under the age of 18. There were limited indications that unorganized commercial sexual exploitation of children occurred. No separate law defines or specifically prohibits child pornography.
International Child Abductions: The country 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.
There was no organized Jewish community, 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 law does not prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities. Government regulations require access for persons with disabilities to all public buildings, but only a few government buildings had access ramps. The health ministry operated a community-based rehabilitation program in residents’ homes.
Children with physical and visual disabilities were not mainstreamed into the wider student population. Five schools were available for persons with mental disabilities and for children with hearing or visual disabilities. Children with disabilities faced barriers in education, and there were few opportunities for such persons when they became adults.
While there were no official reports of discrimination, employers generally did not make accommodations for workers with disabilities. Persons with disabilities have the right to vote and selected polling stations are accessible for mobility-impaired voters, but many polling stations were inaccessible.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Consensual same-sex sexual activity is illegal under indecency statutes, and some same-sex sexual activity between men is also illegal under anal intercourse laws. Indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years’ imprisonment, and anal intercourse carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. No legislation protects persons from discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
While the indecency statutes and anal intercourse laws were rarely enforced, there was widespread societal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons in the deeply conservative society. The few openly LGBTI persons faced daily verbal harassment. Civil society groups received reports that LGBTI persons were denied access to rental homes or forced to leave rental homes and were denied jobs or left jobs due to a hostile work environment.
There were few reported incidents of violence or abuse during the year.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
There was widespread stigma and discrimination against persons infected with HIV/AIDS. Civil society reported that health-care workers did not respect patient confidentiality with respect to HIV/AIDS status. The Ministry of Health provided sensitization training and workshops for health-care workers during the year.