Barbados: Implementation of the 1992 Domestic Violence Law, number and availability of women's shelters, policing approach, and women's groups (1996-2000)
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Author||Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada|
|Publication Date||24 November 2000|
|Citation / Document Symbol||BRB36017.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Barbados: Implementation of the 1992 Domestic Violence Law, number and availability of women's shelters, policing approach, and women's groups (1996-2000), 24 November 2000, BRB36017.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4be1628.html [accessed 25 October 2014]|
|Disclaimer||This 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.|
According to Country Reports 1999, "violence and abuse against women continued to be significant social problems" in Barbados (Feb. 2000). The report states women's rights groups maintain that "victims of sexual assaults, domestic violence, incest, and rape are often reluctant to report such incidents" (ibid.). Two additional reports refer to a 1990s study conducted in Barbados, which found 30 per cent of women surveyed "reported being battered" (AP 1 May 2000; IPPF Nov. 1998).
Country Reports 1999 states the following regarding the implementation of the 1992 Domestic Violence Law:
The 1992 Domestic Violence Law specifies the appropriate police response to domestic violence, which is intended to protect all members of the family, including men and children. It applies equally to marriages and to common law relationships. Criminal penalties for violent crimes are the same, regardless of the sex of the offender or the victim. The courts heard a number of cases of domestic violence against women involving assault or wounding. Victims may request restraining orders, which the courts often issue. The courts can sentence an offender to jail for breaching such an order. Human rights monitors criticized an inconsistency in sentencing for rape, incest, and statutory rape. They noted that the lack of sentencing guidelines resulted in longer sentences for persons convicted of petty theft than for incest; and lesser sentences for incest than for rape or sexual assault of nonfamily members (sec. 5).
According to an inspector with the Barbados police force in 1997, 85 per cent of the calls made to local police stations involve domestic situations (IPS 16 Dec. 1997). In November 1997, the Caribbean office of the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), located in Barbados, initiated the Women's Human Rights Campaign – A Life Free of Violence and included training of police officers regarding domestic violence issues in the campaign (ibid.). No further information on the Barbados' policing approach concerning domestic violence could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
Information on the number and availability of women's shelters was scarce among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. According to a 1998 article, co-operation between non-governmental organizations and the government in 1996 lead to the creation in 1997 of a co-ordinating committee for the elimination of violence against women (WEDO 1998). The committee proposed the creation of a "shelter fund for victims of domestic violence" (ibid.). The article also states that the government of Barbados "created a shelter for battered women and has allocated funds for the staffing and administration of the center" (ibid.). According to Country Reports 1999, the government allocated $190,000 (U.S.) and the shelter opened in September 1999 (sec. 5). In addition, the Business and Professional Women's Club operates a crisis centre with "30 trained counsellors and provides legal and medical referral services." No further information on women's shelters could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
The following groups, which focus on women's issues, were identified within the time constraints of this Response: Business and Professional Women's Club; Caribbean Association for Feminist Research (CAFRA); Caribbean Women's Association; and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) (Country Reports 1999, sec. 5; Union of International Associations 28 Nov. 1999). In addition, the following government entities address women's issues: Bureau of Women's Affairs; National Advisory Council on Women (NACW); Focal Point of the Ministry of Health (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean).
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 to refugee status or asylum.
Associated Press (AP). 1 May 2000. Tim McDonald. "Long Ignored in Caribbean, Domestic Violence an Issue in Trinidad." (BC cycle/NEXIS)
Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 1999. 2000. United States Department of State. Washington, DC
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. 2000. "Barbados."
International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF). November 1998. "The Facts About Gender-Based Violence."
Inter Press Service (IPS). 16 December 1997. Cara Mason. "Caribbean: Year-Long Campaign Against Domestic Violence Launched." (NEXIS)
Union of International Associations (UIA). 28 Nov. 1999. "Yearbook of International Organizations."
Women's Environment and Development Organization (WEDO). 1998. "Mapping Progress-Assessing Implementation of the Beijing Platform 1998" (Responsive Database Services, Inc. 1998/NEXIS)
Additional Sources Consulted
World News Connection (WNC)
Internet sites including:
Barbados Human Rights
Economic Commission for Latin America
International Women's Rights Action Watch
National Organization for Women
Office of Justice Programs
Pan-American Health Organization
Research, Action and Information Network for the Bodily Integrity of Women
Union of International Associations
Women's Rights Network
Search engines including: