Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, spousal rape, and domestic abuse are criminal offenses for which conviction is punishable by a maximum of 20 years’ imprisonment. Nevertheless, rape was a problem, and the government did not enforce the law effectively. Most victims did not report rape due to fear of reprisal or social stigma.
Domestic violence against women was a widespread problem. Police rarely responded to domestic disputes, although media continued to draw attention to the problem. Police maintained a specialized unit, the Family Squad, to address domestic violence and other family problems.
The Social Affairs Division of the Ministry of Family Affairs and NGOs provided counseling services to victims of rape and domestic violence. The ministry’s Gender Secretariat conducted outreach campaigns to end gender-based violence.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but enforcement was rare. The penal code provides no penalty for sexual harassment, although the court may order a person accused of such conduct to “keep a bond of peace,” which allows the court to assess a fine if the harasser fails to cease the harassment.
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: Although society is largely matriarchal, the law provides for the same legal status and rights for men as for women, including equal treatment under family, property, nationality, and inheritance laws. While unwed mothers were the societal norm, the law requires fathers to support their children. The Employment Act, as amended in 2015, provides fathers with five days of paid paternity leave upon the birth of a child.
There was no officially sanctioned economic discrimination against women in employment, access to credit, equal pay for equal work, or owning or managing a business. Women were well represented in both the public and private sectors. Inheritance laws do not discriminate against women.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth in the country or from parents, and generally births were registered immediately. For additional information, see Appendix C.
Child Abuse: Although the law prohibits physical abuse of children, child abuse was a problem. Physical abuse of children is a cultural norm. According to government social workers, perpetrators of child sexual abuse often were stepfathers, boyfriends of the mother, and other male family members. The strongest public advocate for young victims was a semiautonomous agency, the National Council for Children.
Early and Forced Marriage: The minimum age for marriage is 15 years for girls with parental consent and 18 years for boys. Child marriage was not a significant problem. For additional information, see Appendix C.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law criminalizes the prostitution and sexual exploitation of children and specifically prohibits the procurement, recruitment, or exploitation of children under age 18 for the purpose of prostitution. The law also prohibits the procurement or detainment of any child against his or her will with the intent to engage in sexual conduct or for the purpose of prostitution. The law provides for a sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment for a first conviction of sexual assault on a person under age 15 and 28 years’ imprisonment for a second conviction, but the presiding judge may reduce these sentences. For example, on December 12, Today in Seychelles reported a 37-year-old man from Belvedere was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment for sexually assaulting an eight-year-old girl in 2016.
The 2014 Prohibition of Trafficking in Persons Act prescribes penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment and a fine up to 800,000 Seychellois rupees ($57,200) for conviction of child trafficking. There were credible reports of commercial sexual exploitation of children. Authorities prosecuted several child abuse cases in court. For example, on July 31, Today in Seychelles reported a 75-year-old man repeatedly sexually assaulted an eight-year-old girl and was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment. No cases of child pornography, which is illegal, were reported during the year.
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.
The Jewish community numbered fewer than 10 persons. 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
Although the constitution and law provide for the right of persons with disabilities to special protection, including reasonable provisions for improving quality of life, no laws provide for access to public buildings, transportation, or government services, and the government does not provide such services. There were cases of discrimination against persons with disabilities. Employers paid their employees with disabilities two thirds of their salaries if the latter were already receiving disability social aid, compared to previous years when they were often not paid a salary (see section 7.d.). Most children with disabilities were segregated in specialized schools. The National Council for the Disabled, a government agency under the Ministry of Family Affairs, developed work placement programs for persons with disabilities, although few employment opportunities existed.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
In 2016 consensual same-sex sexual activity between men was decriminalized. There were few reports of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons; although LGBTI activists reported they faced social stigma and discrimination. On September 12, the Seychelles News Agency carried an article about the struggles faced by the local LGBTI association.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
There were no reports of violence or discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. Nevertheless, the government has informal policies that require a foreign citizen marrying a Seychellois to undergo an HIV test. If the test is positive, the couple are not permitted to marry in the country. In April 2016 a national policy on HIV/AIDS in the workplace was initiated that provides for core guidelines and responses for HIV/AIDS in the workplace, including nondiscriminatory employment practices.