The State Department of the United States of America has reported that the most significant form of human rights abuse in Dominica includes domestic and sexual violence against women and children.
In its 2015 edition of the “Country Reports on Human Rights Practices,” released last Wednesday, the State Department said other rights problems included laws that discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons and discrimination against persons with disabilities.
In terms of rape and sexual violence, the report stated that law criminalizes rape but not spousal rape.
“Although the maximum sentence for sexual molestation (rape or incest) is 25 years’ imprisonment, the normal sentence was five to seven years, except in the case of murder,” the report said. “Police generally were not reluctant to arrest or prosecute offenders; whenever possible, female police officers handled rape cases. The Bureau of Gender Affairs collaborated with civil society organizations to assist victims of abuse.”
“Sexual violence and domestic violence cases were common, and the government recognized it as a problem,” the report continued.
The report stated that there are no laws in Dominica does not have any laws that specifically prohibit discrimination against persons with disabilities.
“There is no legal requirement mandating access to buildings for such persons. Although persons with disabilities have the right to vote, polling stations were often inaccessible. Civil society stated that unemployment numbers were very high, in part, because employers refused to hire persons with disabilities,” it said.
Concerning acts of violence, discrimination, and other abuses based on sexual orientation and gender identity, the report stated that there are no laws prohibit discrimination against a person on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, education, or health care.
“Consensual same-sex sexual activity for both sexes is illegal under indecency statutes,” the report stated. “The law also prohibits anal intercourse between male partners. The government reported rare enforcement of both statutes, and there were no instances of the law being enforced through October. Indecency statutes carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison, and consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adult men carries a maximum penalty of 10 years. No laws prohibit discrimination against a person on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment, housing, education, or health care. There were no official reports during the year of violence against LGBTI persons, but anecdotal evidence suggested societal and employment discrimination against persons due to their real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity was common in the socially conservative society (see section 7.d.). Furthermore, civil society organizations reported that LGBTI victims of violence or harassment avoided notifying police of abuse because of social stigma. There were very few openly gay men or lesbians.”