Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape of men or women, including spousal rape. Although the maximum sentence for sexual molestation (rape or incest) is 25 years’ imprisonment, the usual sentence was five to seven years. Police generally were not reluctant to arrest or prosecute offenders. Whenever possible, female police officers handled rape cases. Women were reluctant to report domestic violence to police. The only shelter for victims of gender-based violence remained closed since Hurricane Maria in September 2017.
Civil society reported that sexual and domestic violence was common. The government recognized it as a problem, but according to civil society groups, understanding of gender-based violence, particularly domestic violence, was low among the general population. Although no specific laws criminalize spousal abuse, spouses were able to bring charges against their partners for battery.
The law allows abused persons to appear before a magistrate without an attorney and request a protective order.
Sexual Harassment: The law does not prohibit sexual harassment. Civil society reported it was a pervasive problem.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Discrimination: The constitution provides women with the same legal rights as men, but property deeds continued to be given to heads of households, who were usually men. The law establishes pay rates for civil service jobs without regard to gender.
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived by birth within the country’s territory or to a citizen parent. Birth certificates were provided to parents on a timely basis. Failure to register resulted in denial of access to public services except emergency care.
Child Abuse: Child abuse was reportedly a pervasive problem, but up-to-date statistics on child abuse cases were not available.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 for both men and women, but marriage is permitted at age 16 with parental consent.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The age of consent for sexual relations is 16. The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation of children for purposes of prostitution, and related activity may be prosecuted under laws against prostitution or trafficking. The law protects all persons from “unlawful sexual connection,” rape, procurement for prostitution, and incest. It prohibits sexual intercourse between a child and an adult and increases the penalty to 25 years of imprisonment for an adult who rapes a child whom the adult employs or controls, or to whom the adult pays wages. A 2016 amendment criminalizes behaviors such as voyeurism.
The maximum sentence for sexual intercourse with a person under the age of 14 years is 25 years in prison. When victims are between ages 14 and 16, the maximum sentence is 14 years.
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/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data.html.
There is no organized Jewish community in the country, and there were no reports of discrimination or anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
There were no confirmed reports during the year that the country was a source, destination, or transit country for victims of human trafficking.
Persons with Disabilities
The law does not specifically prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities. There is no legal requirement mandating access to buildings for such persons. Although persons with disabilities have the right to vote, polling stations were often inaccessible.
Children with physical disabilities and those with hearing and vision disabilities were integrated into mainstream schools. Civil society reported that one visually impaired student completed the entire mainstream education with the help of a teacher. The government funded a separate special education school for children with intellectual or mental disabilities.
The Kalinago (Carib) population was estimated at 3,000 persons, most of whom lived in the 3,782-acre Kalinago Territory. The government recognizes their special status, and their rights are protected in law and practice. The law allocates Kalinago territory and gives the local council its authority, including the exercise of veto power over new infrastructure projects within the territory. Some societal discrimination against the Kalinago existed, most notably when Kalinago children attended schools outside the territory.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
Consensual same-sex sexual activity for both sexes is illegal under indecency statutes. The law also prohibits anal intercourse between males. The government reported rare enforcement of both statutes, and there were no instances of the law being enforced through September. Indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and same-sex sexual conduct between consenting adult men carries a maximum penalty of 10 years. No laws prohibit discrimination against a person on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics in employment, housing, education, or health care.
Anecdotal evidence suggested that strong societal and employment discrimination against persons due to their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or sex characteristics was common. Furthermore, civil society organizations reported that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) victims of violence or harassment avoided notifying police of abuse because of social stigma. Stigma and fear of abuse and intimidation prevented LGBTI organizations from developing their membership or executing activities such as Pride marches.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Reports from civil society indicated individuals with HIV feared job discrimination if their HIV status became public. This fear resulted in patients not seeking treatment at a hospital.