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St. Lucia: Information on whether there is recourse for female victims of physical/sexual abuse from spouses or others, on whether there are shelters or women's groups and on the police attitude to domestic violence

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 August 1995
Citation / Document Symbol LCA21334.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, St. Lucia: Information on whether there is recourse for female victims of physical/sexual abuse from spouses or others, on whether there are shelters or women's groups and on the police attitude to domestic violence, 1 August 1995, LCA21334.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aaab1c.html [accessed 2 August 2014]
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.

 

The following information was provided to the DIRB by one of the founders and the present director of the St. Lucia Crisis Centre (Castries) in a telephone interview on 10 August 1995.

The Crisis Centre was founded in October 1988. The director reported that the number of cases of domestic violence dealt with at the Centre grew steadily from five at the opening of the centre to 453 in 1994.

According to the director, concubinage and the fear of AIDS are quite common in St. Lucian society. Most of the complaints of domestic violence are made following a male spouse's "instinctive reaction" upon learning of infidelity, the director stated. The Crisis Centre's task is to work for a reconciliation between the spouses through meeting with a counsellor. In the case of a divorce, the Crisis Centre tries to ease the separation and facilitate child custody if the couple have children.

In the case of physical abuse, a woman has access to a Legal Aid Clinic and support from the Crisis Centre. The Crisis Centre can also refer the woman to physiotherapists, sociologists and psychologists who will attend to her free of charge.

A Family Court has not yet been established in St. Lucia but a Family Law was passed in 1994. Domestic violence is no longer considered a common assault but has been upgraded to a criminal offence that can carry a prison term. The director cited the case of a man who was proven guilty of domestic violence and condemned to a 7 year prison term. In the director's opinion, authorities pay more attention to cases of domestic violence now than in the past.

The director told the DIRB that the Crisis Centre was the only one of its kind in St. Lucia. Efforts have been made to open a ten-room women's shelter in Tapion, a suburb of the capital Castries, but lack of funding has postponed construction, although the government has allocated a site for it. The Crisis Centre is also working on the establishment of a shelter for girls 10 to 14 years of age who are victims of domestic violence, incest and/or teen pregnancy. Numerous discussions with government officials have taken place concerning the project, but no action has been taken yet.

Other institutions such as Roman Catholic shelters, the St. Lucy's home, the Legal Aid Clinic and the Salvation Army work together with the Crisis Centre but none of them has the necessary resources and training to deal with domestic violence and cannot therefore be considered as women shelters.

The director reported that the Crisis Centre networks very well with the police on cases of domestic violence, but that it has had to lecture the police intensively on the seriousness of such acts. The director added that since St. Lucia is a small community, there is a strong possibility that the police know the abuser and do not hurry to write a report.

The police have developed a more concerned attitude about domestic violence in recent years since they now have a better understanding of the nature of the problem. The Crisis Centre is in constant communication with district police stations and precincts to follow up on complaints of domestic violence and, if possible, assist the police in their investigation.

For other information, please consult the attachments.

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

Reference

St. Lucia Crisis Centre, Castries, 10 August 1995. Telephone interview with the director/founder.

Attachments

CAFRA News [Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago]. October-December 1992. Vol. 6, No. 4. "Women and The Law: St. Lucia," p. 22.

Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA). n.d. "Regional Meeting on Women, Violence and the Law: Provisional Report." Tunapuna, Trinidad and Tobago: CAFRA.

Additional Sources Consulted

Discrimination Against Women. 1989. London: McFarland.

Latin American Regional Reports: Central America and Caribbean Report [London].

Making Women Matter. 1990. London: Zed Books.

Sisterhood is Global. 1991.

Women and Men in Society. 1986. Belmont: Wadsworth.

Women in Latin America and the Caribbean. March 1995. Immigration and Refugee Board. Documentation, Information and Research Branch. Ottawa.

Women-Nation-State. 1989. London: McMillan.

Women's Movements in the World. 1990. London: Longman.

The World's Women. Yearly. New York: United Nations.

Oral sources.

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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