You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women. – Jawaharlal Nehru, First Prime Minister of India
The status of women in our society is not equal to men. SVG Green Party has previously called for women to be equally represented on statutory boards and other positions of authority and stature. Although some women have higher status jobs, SVG needs more. It is positive role models that give young women and girls inspiration and hope. When they see what other women have achieved, they realise that they can achieve too.
Women are the victims of the majority of crime in SVG. It is extremely disturbing that females from as young as 13 are victims of violent sexual crime, not to mention that elderly women also experience violent sexual crime. We have already noted a United Nations and World Bank report that showed SVG as having one of the highest rape rates in the Caribbean – 8 times the worldwide average.
In 2007, St. Vincent had the third-highest rate of recorded rapes in the world, after the Bahamas and Swaziland, according to a United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime document. Other UN statistics showed that in 2011, St. Vincent was the fourth-worst country worldwide when it came to its rate of recorded rapes.
Domestic abuse and incest are common. It was reported that between 2000 and 2011, 60 women died from gender-based violence or at the hands of their partner — a staggering figure considering the under-reporting of cases and St. Vincent’s tiny population of about 109,000.
It is not surprising that a Canadian newspaper reported that in 2010, 710 Vincentians sought asylum in Canada, up from only 179 in 2001. Also, over the decade of 2001 to 2011, there were more than 4,500 refugee claimants, roughly 4 per cent of our population. Most were women fleeing violence.
In a report produced in collaboration between UQAM’s International Clinic for the Defense of Human Rights and the SVG Human Rights Association in 2014, it was found that:
1) The State of SVG does not provide effective access to justice for gender-based crimes;
2) The State of SVG fails to fulfil its obligation to take all appropriate measures to protect women against gender-based violence as a form of discrimination under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women;
3) Gender-based violence is a persistent problem in SVG, with domestic violence, rape and incest being the most common types of violence against girls and women;
4) Between 2006 and 2009, 205 cases of rape, 200 cases of sex with a minor under the age of 15, and 29 cases of incest were reported in SVG; and
5) Between 2004 and 2011, the rate of rape per population of 100 000 has thus doubled, increasing from 177.8 per 100,000 to 389.5 per 100,000.
We have to change direction in our mindset and have respect for women. We must also abolish the economic apartheid that allows the super-rich foreigners of Mustique and Canouan tax and customs exemptions of billions of dollars. This injustice weakens the SVG’s economy and the consequences of this perpetuate poverty and violence. Over the years, our nation has witnessed many murders, rapes and other severe acts of brutality against women.
SVG should go Green for prosperity and a better quality of life for women. Green philosophy promotes equality for men and women. The time has come for a Green revolution to fix the economic and social problems created by the incompetent ULP government and to end violence against women.