Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and stipulates a sentence of flogging or up to 30 years’ imprisonment for a conviction of any nonconsensual form of sex. Authorities referred 43 charges involving rape or related crimes for prosecution, and the court convicted 26 defendants as of September.
According to women’s rights monitors, violence against women remained a serious and pervasive problem. The law prohibits domestic violence and provides for penalties at the discretion of the presiding judge based on the severity of the offense. The central statistical office reported 240 cases of domestic violence, 206 against women and 34 against men, as of September. Police and judicial authorities usually acted promptly in cases of domestic violence. Sentences for assault against a spouse vary according to the severity of the incident. A shelter accommodating a maximum of 16 battered and abused women and their children operated in the northern part of the country, and it housed seven residents as of late August; it was staffed by medical and psychological counseling personnel. Victims and persons seeking to report cases of abuse could contact the Ministry of Social Development and local ministry offices in three parishes and the island of Carriacou. Domestic violence remained underreported, as many women feared retribution, stigma, or further violence, and many were economically dependent on the perpetrators.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment, but there were no criminal penalties for it; the government noted it was a persistent problem. It is the responsibility of the complainant to bring a civil suit against an alleged harasser.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): No law prohibits FGM/C, and the practice was virtually nonexistent in the country.
Reproductive Rights: The government recognized the basic right of couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children; to obtain the information and means to do so; and to attain the highest standard of reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Couples and individuals also had access to modern contraception as well as obstetric and postnatal care. According to the UN Population Fund’s most recent estimates, skilled health personnel attended 99 percent of births, and 52 percent of women ages 15-49 used a modern method of contraception. Women had access to emergency health care, including services for the management of complications from abortion.
Discrimination: Women generally enjoyed the same rights as men, and there was no evidence of formal discrimination in education. The Employment Act of 1999 mandates equal pay for equal work. Justice system officials reported there were no allegations of violations of the equal pay for equal work provision during the year. Television and radio public service announcements continued to combat spousal abuse and raise women’s awareness of their rights.