Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and prescribes penalties for rape or forcible sexual assault of between 12 and 15 years’ imprisonment and fines up to 100,000 Surinamese dollars (SRD) ($25,000). The government enforced the law effectively. Police received 497 reports of sexual abuse as of September.
Violence against women remained a serious and pervasive problem. The law imposes sentences of four to eight years’ imprisonment for domestic violence. Through September police received 1,122 reports of domestic abuse. Domestic abuse played a role in eight of the 24 murders committed through September; prosecutions were pending.
The Ministry of Justice and Police’s Victim Assistance Bureau provided resources for victims of domestic violence and continued to raise awareness about domestic violence through public television programs. There were victims’ rooms in police stations in Paramaribo and Nickerie. Authorities trained police units in dealing with survivors and perpetrators of sexual crimes and domestic violence. Through September the government’s Victim Services Department provided shelter services to approximately 20 women. The length of stay averaged three months but varied according to the circumstances.
Authorities reported an average of 20 requests per week for restraining orders, primarily from women seeking protection from abusive partners. When granted the restraining orders instruct the partners not to communicate with victims or otherwise contact them.
Sexual Harassment: There is no specific legislation on sexual harassment, but prosecutors cited various penal code articles in filing sexual harassment cases. There were no reported court cases involving sexual harassment in the workplace.
Stalking is a criminal offense, and police may investigate possible cases of stalking without the filing of a formal complaint. Pending investigation, police may issue temporary restraining orders limiting the contact between victim and suspect for up to 30 days. If found guilty, offenders could receive prison sentences ranging from four to 12 years and fines from 50,000 to 150,000 SRD ($13,000 to $38,000).
Reproductive Rights: Couples and individuals have the right to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing, and timing of their children, manage their reproductive health, and have access to the information and means to do so, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Access to information on modern contraception was widely available and, according to 2013 data from the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), 47.6 percent of women ages 15-49 used modern contraceptive methods. Although skilled attendance at birth was more than 90 percent, the UN Population Fund estimated maternal mortality to be 130 deaths per 100,000 live births. Women had easier access to emergency services in the coastal area than in the interior, where regional clinics were remote and transportation to Paramaribo for medical services could be expensive and long.
Discrimination: The law provides for protection of women’s rights to equal access to education, employment, and property. Societal pressures and customs, especially in rural areas, inhibited the full exercise of these rights, particularly with respect to marriage and inheritance. Where local customs remain a strong influence on the family unit, inheritance rights pass to husbands.
Men and women generally enjoyed the same legal rights under property law and under the judicial system, but where citizens observed local customs, these rights were somewhat infringed. The Bureau for Women and Children under the Ministry of Justice and Police worked to protect the legal rights of women and children. Women experienced discrimination in access to employment and in rates of pay for the same or substantially similar work (see section 7.d.). The government did not undertake specific efforts to combat economic discrimination.