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Grenada: Domestic violence, including legislation, state protection, and services available to victims (2009-October 2011)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Publication Date 1 November 2011
Citation / Document Symbol GRD103888.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Grenada: Domestic violence, including legislation, state protection, and services available to victims (2009-October 2011), 1 November 2011, GRD103888.E, available at: [accessed 30 May 2016]
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.


Several sources note that domestic violence in Grenada remains a serious problem (GNOW 26 Oct. 2011; US 8 Apr. 2011, Sec. 6; Grenada 31 Mar. 2011). The International Service for Human Rights (ISHR), an international, non-governmental organization that supports and facilitates the United Nations human rights system, reports that member states raised concerns about domestic violence in Grenada during its 2010 universal periodic review (ISHR 25 Aug. 2010). Similarly, Freedom House observes that domestic violence is "common" and that it is underreported (21 June 2011). Media reports that on average, hotlines for domestic violence managed by women's rights organizations receive 2 calls per week, while those operated by the government of Grenada receive around 12 calls per week (West Orlando News and Carib World News 4 Mar. 2009).

Sources note the need for measures to address sexual violence (ISHR 25 Aug. 2010; UN 2010) and sexual harassment in the country (ibid.). In its proposal to obtain funds from the 15th Cycle of the United Nations (UN) Trust Fund Grantees, a program that supports local and national initiatives to end violence against women and girls (UN n.d.a), the Grenadian Ministry of Social Affairs indicated that "pervasive" sexual violence against women and girls in Grenada is "underpinned by widespread sexual harassment" (ibid. 2010). The United States (US) Department of State notes that even though sexual harassment is prohibited by law, there are no established criminal penalties (US 8 Apr. 2011, Sec. 6).

In telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a case worker at the Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic (LACC), a non-governmental organization (NGO) that provides legal services, counselling and public education and advocacy in Grenada (CSI n.d), indicated that many of the women who are victims of domestic violence do not seek help because they are economically dependent on the perpetrators (LACC 21 Oct. 2011). High rates of unemployment are common among women in Grenada (UN 14 May 2010, para. 3.2.2), and their access to health and social services prove to be "restrict[ive]" (ibid., para. 3.2.4). The above was corroborated by an administrative officer at the Grenada National Organisation of Women (GNOW), who explained, in correspondence with the Research Directorate, that due to unemployment, women are unable to provide for their children, thus remaining in a context of financial dependency and domestic violence (GNOW 26 Oct. 2011). GNOW is an umbrella NGO for women in Grenada (The Caribbean NGO Database n.d.).

With regard to discrimination, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women indicated that the socio-economic status of a woman in Grenadian society "either caused or compounded experiences of discrimination," where the "poorer" the woman, the more vulnerable to discrimination and the least empowered to "stand for her rights" (UN 14 May 2010, para. 3.3).


On 29 October 2010, the Grenadian House of Representatives approved the Domestic Violence Act of 2010 (Grenada 1 Nov. 2010). The Act was implemented on 16 May 2011 alongside the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault protocol, and, according to the government of Grenada, includes "stronger tools" for law enforcement officials, increased penalties for both first-time and repeating offenders, greater protection for victims, and provisions for granting protection orders (Grenada 19 Apr. 2011). The Act also includes harassment and damage against property in the definition of "abuse" (US 8 Apr. 2011, Sec. 6). The Protocol includes provisions for "strengthening" the response from the health and social sector, the judiciary and the police (Grenada 19 Apr. 2011).

The administrative officer at GNOW indicated that this new Act does not replace the previous Act of 2001; instead, it works "in conjunction with the Criminal Code," since it is also for civil matters (GNOW 27 Oct. 2011a).

State Programs and Protection

In 2003, the Ministry of Social Development created the Domestic Violence Unit "to address the increasing incidence of domestic violence" in the country (Grenada 26 Oct. 2010). According to the Ministry's website, the Domestic Violence Unit runs the following programs:

  • Public awareness: production of audiovisual and other promotional material to sensitize the public;
  • Education and training: consisting of workshops for police officers on how to respond to domestic violence situations;
  • Community outreach: dissemination of booklets and pamphlets providing information on domestic violence;
  • Counselling: assistance to victims of domestic violence;
  • Relationship building: to ensure the Domestic Violence Unit is meeting the needs of the community; and
  • Information and education materials: print materials on domestic violence to inform victims and stakeholders (ibid.).

Furthermore, the administrative officer at GNOW explained that the Domestic Violence Unit also runs the Shelter for Battered Women, the only shelter on the island, where victims and their young children are placed for up to six months, though in some cases the period has been longer (GNOW 26 Oct. 2011). The shelter is located in the northern part of the island and can house 18 women (US 8 Apr. 2011, Sec. 6). For women not placed in the shelter, the LACC offers a program called "Changes" to "assist women to regain their self esteem" and teach them to identify signs of domestic violence (GNOW 26 Oct. 2011). For perpetrators, Grenada has established the program "Man-to-Man" to provide counselling assistance for 15 weeks (LACC 27 Oct. 2011). The court handling a domestic violence case can order perpetrators to attend this program (ibid.).

Sources indicate that the State of Grenada has been training, in cooperation with UN Women, its police force in the area of domestic violence (GNOW 26 Oct. 2011; Grenada 31 Mar. 2011). The training is also provided by the Police Department of the City of Ottawa, Canada, and the Association of Caribbean Commissioners of Police (Grenada 31 Mar. 2011). The training focuses on "sexual and intimate partner assault, legal issues around domestic violence, the judicial response, victim support and domestic violence investigation procedures" (ibid.). The US Department of State indicates that generally, police and judicial authorities have acted promptly in cases of domestic violence (US 8 Apr. 2011, Sec. 6).

According to the administrative officer at GNOW, women who are victims of domestic violence can go to GNOW, the LACC or the Domestic Violence Unit (GNOW 26 Oct. 2011). These three organizations work in collaboration with the Domestic Violence Desk at the Royal Grenada Police Force to proceed to intervention (ibid.). The administrative officer noted that the LACC has lawyers to assist victims in obtaining restraining orders against perpetrators in a "timely manner" (ibid.).

However, the administrative officer also indicated the following: a "great number" of cases of domestic violence go unreported because victims are "threatened and fear for their lives" (ibid.). Some women are "not sure what to do" in situations of abuse (ibid.). In some cases, victims prefer not to press charges against the perpetrator; and even when a protection or restraining order is obtained, some perpetrators "never" make a court appearance (ibid.). The administrative officer noted that there have been cases of victims who were raped by perpetrators after the issuance of restraining or protection orders (ibid.). In these cases, victims who suffer "constant harassment" by their partner resort to migration" to save their lives"(ibid.). "A number of women have lost their lives because of domestic violence" (ibid.).

In a follow-up telephone interview, the administrative officer indicated that the country is very small and perpetrators are likely to find their victims should they decide to relocate on the island (GNOW 27 Oct. 2011b). According to the CIA World FactBook on Grenada, the island measures 344 square kilometres and has an estimated population of 108,419 people as of July 2011 (US 27 Sept. 2011).

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 sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


The Caribbean NGO Database. N.d. "Grenada National Organisation of Women." [Accessed 27 Oct. 2011]

Caribbean Support Initiative (CSI). N.d. "Grenada." [Accessed 1 Nov. 2011]

Freedom House. 21 June 2011. "Grenada." Freedom in the World 2011. [Accessed 21 Oct. 2011]

Grenada. 19 April 2011. "Caravan to End Family Violence and Strengthen Families." [Accessed 21 Oct. 2011]

_____. [31 March 2011]. "Caribbean Officers to Undertake Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse Training." [Accessed 21 Oct. 2011]

_____. 26 October 2010. Ministry of Social Development. "Ministry of Social Development." [Accessed 21 Oct. 2011]

_____. 1 November 2010. National Report: Grenada. Report submitted at the thirty-fifth Assembly of Delegates of the Inter-American Commission of Women of the Organization of American States (OAS). [Accessed 26 Oct. 2011]

Grenada National Organisation of Women (GNOW). 27 October 2011a. Correspondence from the administrative officer to the Research Directorate.

_____. 27 October 2011b. Telephone interview with the administrative officer.

_____. 26 October 2011. Correspondence from the administrative officer to the Research Directorate.

International Service for Human Rights (ISHR). 23 August 2011. "About Us." [Accessed 1 Nov. 2011]

_____. 25 August 2010. "Grenada Reviewed under the UPR: Announces Favourable Consideration of Most Recommendations." [Accessed 21 Oct. 2011]

Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic (LACC). 21 October 2011. Telephone interview with a case worker.

United Nations (UN). 14 May 2010. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Combined initial, Second, Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Report of States Parties: Grenada. (CEDAW/C/GRD/1-5) [Accessed 24 Oct. 2011]

_____. 2010. UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). "UN Trust Fund Grantees." [Accessed 21 Oct. 2011]

_____. N.d.a. UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). "UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women." [Accessed 24 Oct. 2011]

_____. N.d.b. UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women). "Ending Violence Against Women." [Accessed 26 Oct. 2011]

United States (US). 27 September 2011. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). "Grenada." The World FactBook. [Accessed 27 Oct. 2011]

_____. 8 April 2011. Department of State. "Grenada." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2010. [Accessed 19 Sept. 2011]

West Orlando News and Carib World News. 4 March 2009. "Domestic Violence Against Women 'Alive and Well' in Caribbean." (Sustainable Development Network Programme, SDNP) [Accessed 26 Oct. 2011]

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: Attempts to contact representatives from the Grenada Community Development Agency and the Ministry of Social Development were unsuccessful within the time constraints of this Response.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International; European Country of Origin Information Network; Human Rights Watch; International Federation for Human Rights; Factiva; Minority Rights Group International; United Nations - UN Development Program, ReliefWeb.

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 Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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