Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, spousal rape, and domestic abuse are criminal offenses for which conviction is punishable by up to 20 years’ imprisonment. Nevertheless, rape was a problem, and the government generally did not enforce the law effectively. Authorities in general did not prioritize domestic abuse cases and police were undertrained in handling sexual assault cases. Many victims did not report rape due social stigma and a reluctance to enter into lengthy court case.
Domestic violence against women was a widespread problem. There is no specific domestic violence law, although legislation has been under consideration for many years. Officials reported that through September courts heard 356 domestic violence cases, nine more than in the same period in 2018. A gender-based violence survey published in 2018 indicated that 58 percent of women had been assaulted, mainly by their partners, with one of 10 women having been raped. There were four homicides in January, all resulting from domestic disputes. Police rarely responded to domestic disputes, although media continued to draw attention to the problem.
The Family Squad–a special police unit that addresses domestic violence and other family problems–became part of the Criminal Investigation Unit during the year. The Social Affairs Division of the Ministry of Family Affairs as well as NGOs provided counseling services to victims of rape and domestic violence. The ministry’s Gender Secretariat conducted anti-gender-based violence outreach campaigns. In November 2018 the first shelter for victims of gender-based violence opened but was rarely used, due to a lack of procedure for admission and a no children policy.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but enforcement was rare. The penal code provides no penalty for conviction of sexual harassment, although the court may order a person accused of such conduct to “keep a bond of peace” that allows the court to assess a fine if the harasser fails to cease the harassment. In the workplace, the Employment Act states that an employer may not harass a worker.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization. For additional information, see Appendix C.
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 traditionally bear the burden of supporting their children, the law requires fathers to support their children financially. The Employment Act, as amended in 2015, provides fathers with 10 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 if born abroad from Seychellois parents, and births in the country were generally registered immediately. For additional information, see Appendix C.
Child Abuse: Although the law prohibits physical abuse of children, child abuse was a problem. According to NGOs, physical abuse of children was prevalent. The strongest public advocate for young victims was a semiautonomous agency, the National Council for Children. The law prohibits corporal punishment in schools.
Early and Forced Marriage: On October 22, the National Assembly set the minimum age for marriage at 18 for men and women and rescinded a provision that had permitted girls as young as age 15 to marry with parental consent. The president, however, had not signed the change into law by year’s end. Child marriage was not a significant problem.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The penal code and other laws define a child as a person younger than age 18 and criminalize practices related to child pornography and the commercial sexual exploitation, sale, offering, and procurement for prostitution of children. The law provides for a sentence of up to 20 years’ imprisonment for conviction of producing or possessing child pornography, as well as for a first conviction of sexual assault on a child younger than age 15, and a minimum 28 years’ imprisonment for a second conviction within 10 years of the first conviction. The law prescribes penalties of up to 25 years’ imprisonment and a fine up to 800,000 Seychellois rupees ($59,000) for conviction of child trafficking. There were no credible reports of commercial sexual exploitation of children or of child pornography 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 https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.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 https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report/.
Persons with Disabilities
Although the constitution and law provide for special protections for persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities, including reasonable provisions for improving quality of life, no laws address access to public buildings, transportation, or government services, and the government did not provide such services. Unlike in previous years, employed persons with disabilities were paid their salaries in full. 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. Same-sex sexual activity between women was never criminalized. There were few reports of discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons, although activists stated discrimination and stigma were common. LGBTI persons stated the government discriminated against them when applying for social housing.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
There were no reports of violence or discrimination against persons with HIV/AIDS. Unlike in previous years, foreign citizens marrying a Seychellois were not required to undergo an HIV test. An independent National AIDS Council oversees all laws, policies, and programs related to HIV and AIDS.