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Dominica: Domestic violence against women and children (prevalence of abuse); protection available to women victims of domestic abuse (availability of shelters and other help, legislative changes since 1998) (2004-2005)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa
Publication Date 22 December 2005
Citation / Document Symbol DMA100682.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Dominica: Domestic violence against women and children (prevalence of abuse); protection available to women victims of domestic abuse (availability of shelters and other help, legislative changes since 1998) (2004-2005), 22 December 2005, DMA100682.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/45f147edb.html [accessed 19 September 2014]
Comments Corrected version March 2007
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Information on domestic violence against women and children in Dominica was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

In December 2004, the OAS indicated that Dominica was writing its seventh report of the Convention for the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), highlighting government and non-governmental organizations' efforts (30 December 2004). However, this report was not found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. In fact, according to Bayefski (a United Nations Human Rights Treaties database) as of October 2005, Dominica had not submitted any of the reports to CEDAW (Oct. 2005).

Violence against women – legislation

For Dominica, the Organization of American States (OAS) lists the following laws in its "Violence Laws" index: the Sexual Offenses Act of 1992 and 1998 and the Domestic Violence Bill No. 77586 of 1996 (2000).

The only indication of changes to domestic violence legislation since 1998 are a United Nations report and a OAS report which both mention the "Act No. 22 of 2001 on Protection against Domestic Violence" (30 June 2004; OAS 30 Dec. 2004). The text of this law was not found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

However, through its Women's Bureau the government made public declarations favoring the integration of gender issues in its operations (OAS 30 Dec. 2004).

On the application of domestic violence laws, Country Reports 2004 provides the following details:

Domestic violence cases were common. There are no specific spousal abuse laws; however, women could bring charges against husbands for battery, and the police and the courts prosecuted cases of rape and sexual assault. Rape cases were handled solely by female police officers. [...] The Protection Against Domestic Violence Act allows abused persons to appear before a magistrate without an attorney and request a protective order. The court also may order the alleged perpetrator to be removed from the home in order to allow the victims, usually women and children, to remain in the home while the matter is investigated. Police officers continued to receive training in dealing with domestic abuse cases (28 Feb. 2005, sec. 5).

Violence against women – support available

The government of Dominica provided help to victims of domestic violence through the Welfare Department of the Ministry of Community Development, "assist[ing] victims of abuse by finding temporary shelter, providing counseling to both parties, or recommending police action" as well as in "reporting all cases to the police" (Country Reports 2004 28 Feb. 2005, sec. 5).

The Dominican National Council of Women (DNCW) and an un-named self-help organization for children and women "operated freely and without government interference" (ibid. 28 Feb. 2005, sec. 4; see also Freedom House 11 Aug. 2005). The former "taught preventive education about domestic violence and maintained a shelter where counseling and mediation services were available daily and provided to approximately 150 persons" (ibid., sec. 5). However, with little resources, the DNCW had to limit the length of stay for the victims (ibid.).

Furthermore, a training project on domestic violence was administered to 200 police and social workers from the Caribbean countries, including some from Dominica (Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action, CAFRA 16 Nov. 2001). As well, Country Reports 2004 indicated that "[t]he Catholic Church continued to be active in educating the public about domestic violence" (28 Feb. 2005, sec. 5).

Violence against children

According to Country Reports 2004,

Child abuse continued to be a problem. During the year, the Welfare Department received reports of 114 cases of child abuse, including child sexual abuse and incest, compared with more than 200 in 2003. Enforcement of children's rights laws continued to be hampered by lack of staffing (28 Feb. 2005, sec. 5).

A 2005 report by the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children indicated that corporal punishment of children is allowed in any place (home, school, penal system or alternative care) (2005, 37) and is widely used (Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children 2005, 20; UN 30 June 2004). The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child asked Dominica to "[r]emove all provisions from laws that allow corporal punishment," including the references to whipping contained in the Education Act of 1997 (30 June 2004; see also Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children 2005, 20).

However, the Domestic Violence Act No. 22 of 2001 "contains specific provisions covering various forms of violence against children" (United Nations 30 June 2004). The UN report has also acknowledged the implementation of the Child Abuse Prevention Programme in Dominica, but states that it is concerned with the "high incidence" of children abuse (ibid.). It also recommends the country to conduct studies on domestic violence and abuse of children in order to adopt "effective policies and programmes" (ibid.).

Country Reports 2004 indicated that the "maximum sentence for sexual molestation (rape, incest) is 25 years' imprisonment, the normal sentence given was 5 to 7 years imprisonment except in the case of murder" and that "the age of consent for sexual relations is 16 years" (28 Feb. 2005, sec. 5).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Bayefski. October 2005. "Dominica; Reporting History." [Accessed 14 Nov. 2005]

Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA). 16 November 2001. "Domestic Violence Intervention/Prevention Project." [Accessed 14 Nov. 2005]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2004. 28 February 2005. "Dominica." [Accessed 1st Nov. 2005]

Freedom House. 11 August 2005. "Dominica." Freedom in the World 2005. [Accessed 14 Nov. 2005]

Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children. 2005. "Ending Legalized Violence Against Children." Report for Caribbean Regional Consultation – the UN Secretary General's Study on Violence against Children. [Accessed 14 Nov. 2005]

Organization of American States (OAS). 30 December 2004. Summit of the Americas Secretariat. "Commonwealth of Dominica; National Report and Executive Summary on the Nuevo León Mandates and Relevant Mandates from the Quebec city Plan of Action." [Accessed 14 Nov. 2005]
_____. 2000. "Violence Laws." [Accessed 14 Nov. 2005]

United Nations (UN). 30 June 2004. "Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 44 Of The Convention. Concluding observations: Dominica." (CRC/C/15/Add.238). [Accessed 1st Nov. 2005]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: The Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (Cladem) and the Dominica National Council of Women did not provide information within the time constraints of this Response.

Attempts to reach the Ministry of Community Development and Gender Affairs of Dominica were unsuccessful.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International, Avirtualdominica.com, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Comité de América Latina y el Caribe para la Defensa de los Derechos de la Mujer (Cladem), Dominica.dm, Factiva, Human Rights Watch (HRW), News-Dominica.com, Les Pénélopes, Stop Violence Against Women, UNICEF Eastern Caribbean, US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Website of the United Nations Development Programme for Barbados and the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States, Women's Human Rights Resources, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Women Watch, World News Connection.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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