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UN statistics state that in 2011, SVG was “the fourth-worst country worldwide when it came to its rate of recorded rapes.
UN statistics state that in 2011, SVG was “the fourth-worst country worldwide when it came to its rate of recorded rapes.

UNITED NATIONS (CMC) — A new report published by the Université du Québec à Montréal’s (UQUAM) International Clinic for the Defence of Human Rights and the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Human Rights Association has painted a damning picture of abuse against women in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).

The “Shadow” report, presented to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women at its 61st session, states that it was undertaken “in an effort to shed light on the violence suffered by women in St. Vincent and the Grenadines”.

The report states that cultural prejudices against women and the trivialisation of violence within relationships have a “devastating effect on women’s rights, particularly their right to be free from violence.”

In response to this cultural epidemic, the report says the state of SVG “does not provide adequate protection to women”, stating that the Domestic Violence Act (DVA), passed in Parliament in 1995, “only provides for civil action against the perpetrator.

“The provisions of the Criminal Code define the crimes of rape and incest in an extremely narrow manner, thereby failing to protect all women and girls,” the report says.

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“What is even more appalling, is that when the Family Court issues a protection order or an occupation order, enforcement of that order is inadequate, thereby creating a climate of impunity for perpetrators of violence,” it adds.

It also stated that police officers receive little or no training on violence against women “hence their reactions to victims are often insensitive.

“To make matters worse, there is only one shelter for abused women, accessible only after a protection order has been made at the Family Court,” it says. “Women are thus prevented from seeking immediate protection.”

The report says that the most flagrant problem faced when trying to document the “systemic problem of violence against women in SVG is access to information provided by the State.

Over the past decade, it said more than 4,490 Vincentians — 4 per cent of the current population — have sought asylum in Canada, the majority being women.

Recent UN statistics state that in 2011, SVG was “the fourth-worst country worldwide when it came to its rate of recorded rapes.

“Domestic abuse and incest are common — between 2000 and 2011, 60 women died from gender-based violence or at the hands of their partner — a staggering figure considering the under-reporting of cases and St. Vincent’s tiny population of 109,400.”

“It was very shocking, actually,” said Emilie Guimond-Bélanger, a master’s student of international law and one of the report’s authors, who travelled to St. Vincent this summer. “There’s no system, there’s no protection for women, to make this violence stop.”

A report in the Toronto Star says, discrimination against women is rooted in the “patriarchal structure” of SVG, adding, “many women are particularly vulnerable because they depend on their husbands or partners for financial support”.

6 replies on “UN report paints damning picture of abuse against women in St. Vincent”

  1. Rape, incest, pedophilia, and other violence against girls and women seems so engrained in Vincentian society as to be almost normal and natural. Even when prominent men are accused of such heinous activities, most people just shrug their shoulders in resignation, a sure sign of a sick society.

  2. May I be the first to say that this is just sad!
    Anyone seeking to turn this into a party political thing should be called out as the imposter that they are.

  3. Ask Michelle Andrews and Ms Parsons about victimization. Ask police women being harrassed in Barracks. Even women in high places have to do favors to keep positions or for promotion or jobs. Ask the girls who want scholarships to go study. You think Vincy easy? There are guys in Vincy walking around with books full of pages of names of girls they took advantage of. Trust me when I say, I would be scared to have a daughter walking around vincy, things we do casually are what people in other countries go to jail for years.

    I was surprised when a female friend of mine who came by me for months hanging out in my room watching movies and using facebook, telling me that if it was some other guy she would have been held down already. I was shocked, because that is rape, you cannot hold down people and force yourself on them. And women in Vincy accept this as a way of life. It’s sad real sad.
    Wutlessness all about the place, this is one thing I know is true. It’s time we deal with all these wutlessness.

  4. Pat Robinson Commissiong says:

    It’s certainly a “damning picture” but it’s not a UN Report as the headline of this piece states. The opening sentence clearly identifies the publishers of the report; and it was submitted to the UN’s Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), but that does not make it a UN Report. In fact, according to the Toronto Star (Monday, 24 November 2014), the research was conducted by the University of Montreal in Quebec’s Clinic because they were alerted to the issue of gender based violence in SVG by a Montreal based charity. And the report was submitted to CEDAW in response to SVG’s report to that body last year on the status of women in SVG.
    SVG’s report identified a number of shortcomings, such as the lack of official statistics on domestic violence, the shortcomings of our existing legislation which allows only cohabiting persons to make a complaint (that is, persons in a “visiting” relationship are excluded), and does not criminalize domestic violence, we had no Shelter for victims of domestic violence, there is no mandatory response requirement on the part of the Police nor are they required to complete a Domestic Violence Report which details the abuse or related investigations and final outcome. However the Clinic apparently found the report too rosy – although it is precisely those same shortcomings that the Clinic’s report identifies. I thought the SVG Report’s “poverty alleviation” and “education revolution” sections were a bit on the optimistic side (and that’s putting it politely). But the gender related violence section, given the fact that this kind of violence is under-reported, and that we don’t have adequate statistics and inadequate legislation, was. I think, a fair description of the current situation in SVG. It is true that the report did not say “shock, horror, the situation in disastrous” – but which Government Report ever says that? You read between the lines and you know it is bad).

    You can get SVG’s report to CEDAW here:

    And the article in the Toronto Star here:

  5. If it is a shadow report submitted by a university and the SVG Human Rights Assoc then it is NOT a UN report. Therefore the headline is misleading.

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