Rape and Domestic Violence: The law classifies sexual violence, rape, and incest as serious offenses, protects victims of domestic violence, and establishes penalties for perpetrators. The law prohibits rape of women but does not address spousal rape. The law utilizes an “unnatural offenses” statute to address male rape. Court cases and anecdotal evidence suggested that rape, including spousal rape, continued to be a problem. Penalties for rape range from two years’ imprisonment for incest between minors to life imprisonment. Indecent assault has a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment. Rape has a maximum penalty of 25 years.
Violence against women was a serious and underreported problem. The law criminalizes domestic violence, including emotional abuse, and provides penalties of up to 13,500 East Caribbean dollars ($5,000) or six months in prison.
There was no crisis hotline. The Ministry of Gender Affairs undertook a domestic violence protocol implementation workshop to improve coordination among the various government offices who encounter victims of domestic violence. The ministry coordinated counseling for abuse survivors. Ministry officers maintained contact with civil society organizations, prisons, and schools.
Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment falls under the Protection of Employment Act, but no law explicitly addresses sexual harassment. The press reported on sexual harassment in the workplace.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
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 parent.
Child Abuse: Child abuse remained a problem. According to the government, neglect was the most common form of abuse, while physical abuse, including sexual molestation, also remained prevalent.
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. The Ministries of Social Services and Education collaborated on programs to curb child abuse, including modifying the primary school curriculum and designating November as Child Abuse Awareness Month.
The St. Christopher Children’s Home served abused and neglected children; it received funding and logistical support from the government.
The government offered counseling for both adult and child victims of abuse. Additionally, the government developed a media campaign to help coaches, parents, and students recognize abuse. The government maintained a program to provide youth and their families with life skills, counseling, parenting skills, and mentorship to reduce abuse.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age for marriage is 18 for both men and women. Underage marriage was rare.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported that sexual exploitation and molestation of children remained major problems. NGOs also reported that adolescent transactional sex remained a problem. The age of consent for sexual relations is 16. Having sexual relations with children younger than age 16 is illegal. 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 https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.
There was no organized Jewish community, and members of the Jewish faith reported there were no 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 human smugglers brought in sex workers and laborers. Activists also alleged that human smugglers regularly transited the country.
Persons with Disabilities
The law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, or mental disabilities. Persons with disabilities experienced discrimination, particularly concerning access to buildings and public transportation. The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, but it was not consistently 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 public-school system had limited resources for those students who wished to be mainstreamed.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity among adult men under an “unnatural offenses” statute that carries a penalty of up to 10 years in prison. Top government officials made public statements acknowledging that sexual orientation is a private matter and that all citizens have equal rights under the law. There were no reports the government enforced the law. No laws prohibit discrimination against a person based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Negative societal attitudes towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) individuals impeded the operation of some LGBTI organizations and the free association of LGBTI persons. Officials stated the government “has no business in people’s bedrooms;” however, LGBTI persons reported they did not feel safe engaging in public displays of affection. The government said it received no reports of violence or discrimination based on sexual orientation, but some observers suggested there was underreporting due to negative societal attitudes. During the year the LGBTI community and police conducted gender-sensitization training.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
Anecdotal evidence suggested societal discrimination occurred against persons with HIV/AIDS. The Ministry of Labour enforced a specific antidiscrimination policy covering HIV/AIDS in the workplace.