Grenada, November 9, 2021
Spotlight project on legal reform to combat and eliminate violence against women and girls gains momentum
The Grenada Spotlight Initiative is championing significant legal reforms to address violence against women and girls and to promote enhanced gender equality. To this end, a number of position papers has been developed, addressing gaps in existing laws and needs for new legislation. The project is spearheading reform on issues such as sexual offences, domestic violence, child protection, victim protection and family law.
Over the past 30 years, the international community has increasingly recognised violence against women as a public health concern, a violation of human rights, and a barrier to economic development. The proposed legislative reform under the Grenada Spotlight Initiative underpins several interventions for change and will allow for urgent action towards eradicating root forms of gender-based violence and issues which affect legal rights for vulnerable populations. Implementation of these proposed reforms see Grenada moving closer to achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of gender equality by 2030.
The Spotlight project builds on the efforts of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Family Law Reform Project. Grenada was one of the first to pass several of the OECS project’s model bills, including the Domestic Violence Act; the Juvenile Justice Act and the Child Protection and Adoption Act. However, there is much work still to be done to allow for ‘equality before the law’. This is a renewed focus on ensuring a modern legal system as one catering for all and which is being geared to move away from certain archaic colonial laws still being utilised. It will also address other legislation seen to be inadequate to the task of ensuring equality for all.
“There should be no discrimination. All should have equal rights and access to the law. It is not acceptable for dated colonial laws to prevail when Grenada and indeed the wider Caribbean understand the idea of the family outside marriage as well.”
“Why should women have to struggle to maintain their children because they were born outside of wedlock?”
“Why should there be one law for stranger rape and another allowing for lesser punishment for intimate partners so that spousal rapists can get less jail time?”
Some of the areas being addressed:
Delays in prosecuting crimes involving violence against women and girls.
Grenada needs to prioritise the scheduling of cases involving sexual assaults and domestic violence. Lengthy delays are standard and there are no special provisions for the protection of vulnerable witnesses.
Issues of sexual consent in rape offences, discrepancies in rape sentencing and the definition of sexual harassment will be addressed. A Sex Offenders’ Registry is also being considered. A National Sex Offenders Bill completed in 2020 is yet to be placed before the Houses of Parliament.
Despite many impassioned calls for the establishment of a such a court in Grenada, this has yet to materialise.
The Colonial Marriage Act 1973
- The legal age of marriage;
- Fathers being given priority over mothers in terms of parental consent; and
- Maintenance and support for – and ending discrimination against – children born out of wedlock.
Such punishment of children is still lawful in various settings. Spotlight argues that this should be made a crime.
The Spotlight Initiative is committed to furthering its ambitious legislative agenda. Regular updates will follow.
Further notes on Spotlight Initiative
The European Union partnering with the United Nations launched the Spotlight Initiative to secure political commitments and catalyse global actions aimed at eliminating violence against women worldwide. The initiative currently operates in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean, Latin America and the Pacific, providing funding, capacity and connection building, programmatic support and other forms of assistance towards its purpose of eliminating VAWG.
The Grenada Spotlight Initiative “is designed to focus attention, coordinate human effort, and strategically apply resources to the implementation of a well-conceived comprehensive national programme to contribute to end family violence and all forms of violence against women and in Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique”. The initiative is organised around six pillars of programming, namely: (1) ‘Legislative and Policy Frameworks’, (2) ‘Strengthening Institutions’, (3) Prevention and Social Norms, (4) ‘Delivery of High Quality, Essential Services (5) Data Availability and Capacities’, and (6), ‘Supporting Women’s Movements’.