Rape and Domestic Violence: The law prohibits rape, but it does not address spousal rape. Anecdotal evidence suggested rape was a serious and pervasive problem in society. Despite the re-establishment of a Special Victims Unit in the police force, rape often was underreported due to survivors’ fear of stigma, retribution, further violence, or lack of confidence in the authorities. Penalties for rape range from two years’ imprisonment for incest between minors, to life imprisonment for statutory rape or incest with someone under 16 years. Indecent assault has a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment. Those arrested and prosecuted for rape and indecent assault received strict sentences.
Violence against women was also a serious and pervasive problem. The law criminalizes domestic violence, including emotional abuse, and provides penalties of up to $13,500 Eastern Caribbean Dollars (XCD) ($5,000) or six months in prison.
The Department of Gender Affairs has field officers who maintained contact with men’s organizations, prisons, and schools. Counseling was available for survivors of abuse. The National Council of Women was the lead civil society organization on women’s rights, along with the Department of Gender Affairs.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): While no law prohibits FGM/C, the practice was virtually nonexistent in the country.
Sexual Harassment: According to the Labor Ministry, sexual harassment falls within the purview of the Protection of Employment Act, but the law does not explicitly address sexual harassment. Anecdotal evidence suggested that sexual harassment remained a problem in the workplace, although the Ministry of Community Development, Culture, and Gender Affairs did not receive any cases during the year.
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals had the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children and generally had the means to do so free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. The National Family Planning Office provided information on contraception and support for reproductive rights on a nondiscriminatory basis. Skilled health attendance during pregnancy, at delivery, and during postpartum care were widely available. In 2011 the World Health Organization reported that skilled health personnel attended 100 percent of births. Women had access to emergency health care, including services for the management of complications arising from abortions.
Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal status and rights as men under family, labor, property, and inheritance laws. The status of women in employment improved, particularly in the public sector. The law requires equal remuneration, and women and men generally received equal salaries for comparable jobs.