A US State Department Human Rights report on Saint Vincent says Rape and Domestic Violence: Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal, however, the government inconsistently enforced the law.
Sentences for rape begin at 10 years’ imprisonment. Authorities referred allegations of rape or physical or sexual abuse of women to police, who were generally responsive to these complaints.
Civil society representatives reported that they did not believe officially reported numbers on rape and sexual abuse represented the scope of the problem.
They claimed the justice system protected the powerful and largely ignored poorer, less-well-connected victims.
The government occasionally offered sexual abuse awareness training, but civil society representatives argued such efforts were insufficient to address the root problems that perpetuated an environment of insensitivity to sexual abuse victims.
Police and human rights groups reported that perpetrators commonly made payoffs to victims of rape or sexual assault in exchange for victims not pressing charges.
Civil society groups reported domestic violence against women remained a serious and pervasive problem. The Division of Gender Affairs in the Ministry of National Mobilization offered programs to assist women and children.
In the past, the ministry maintained a crisis centre for survivors of domestic violence, but the centre was closed for renovations throughout the year. Civil society representatives stressed the importance of reopening this centre and the need for the provision of sustainable job-seeking, life, and social skills to survivors of rape and domestic violence.
The COVID-19 crisis presented an additional barrier to offering such services.
Sexual Harassment: The law does not specifically prohibit sexual harassment; authorities could prosecute such behaviour under other laws. Sexual harassment was widespread, particularly in the workplace. Local human rights groups and women’s organizations considered enforcement in the workplace ineffective, citing a lack of sensitivity by government officials, particularly towards economically vulnerable populations.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization on the part of government authorities.
Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal rights to family, nationality, and inheritance as men. Women receive an equitable share of property following separation or divorce. The law requires equal pay for equal work, and authorities generally enforced it. No specific law prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of sex, and women were restricted from working in some industries.