Violence against women, spousal abuse, and sexual harassment were identified as problematic issues in Antigua and Barbuda in the recently released US State Department Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2018.
The report notes that while the law provides penalties for and prohibits domestic violence, this has not stopped the prevalence of incidents.
Highlighted in the report is that, “The law establishes sentences ranging from 10 years to life imprisonment for the rape of women. The law also addresses male rape and establishes sentences of five years to life imprisonment. Spousal rape is illegal under certain limited circumstances, such as after separation, with a punishment of 15 years.”
Section 6 of the Human Rights report also notes that the Directorate of Gender Affairs reported that the number of rape survivors coming forward increased as a result of a crisis hotline and the directorate’s awareness campaign.
However, the report did not provide details as to how that specific conclusion was arrived at, since it could instead be an increase in the total number of rapes leading to correspondingly more reports being made.
Also, statistics were not provided for the number of rapes or calls to the Directorate.
During the review period, the reported noted, the government provided several domestic violence programs including training for law enforcement officers, health care professionals, counsellors, social workers, immigration officers, and army officers.
On the issue of Sexual Harassment, the 2018 Human Rights reports says the Ministry of Labour reported there was a high incidence of such acts in both private and public sectors.
While no statistics were provided in the report, the document highlighted that the law does not specifically define sexual harassment, but it can be addressed under other legal frameworks.
Nothing was said about what is being done to address all the issues outlined.