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Antigua and Barbuda

Population Size:

0.097 million (1). 47.5% are male and 52.5% are female.

Number of People Experiencing Domestic Abuse Each Year:

2016: 40% of women reported experiencing physical abuse in intimate relationships. (2)

2015: 72% of domestic violence victims were women. (3)

2014: 6 cases of rape were reported to the Directorate of Gender Affairs (‘DOGA’): 3 women and 3 men. With respect to adult domestic violence, reports to DOGA increased significantly. Of the 201 cases reported, 124 were women and 77 were men – a marked increase in male reporting when compared with the previous year. (4)

No research on male victims or other gender identities.

Cost of Domestic Abuse to the Economy Each Year:

No research.

Estimated % Change due to COVID-19:

No research.

Impact of COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the prevalence of domestic violence in Antigua and Barbuda. An absence of cohesive state support and protection for survivors of domestic violence has left many increasingly vulnerable.

The pandemic has also impacted the national economic, exacerbating economic uncertainty and inequalities. As a result many have been left trapped in unsafe homes.

In addition, the technology required for remote schooling has left a number of children at risk of falling behind their peers. Though the government will begin distributing tablets in order to combat the technology gap shortly.

Current Law and Policy:

Since the passing of both the Domestic Violence Act 2015, (6) and the implementation of the National Strategic Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence 2013 - 2018, Antigua and Barbuda have not taken further action to tackle to domestic abuse.

Domestic violence continues to be a major problem in the country and the 2015 legislation has been criticised for not going far enough. Marital rape still does not exist as a criminal offence and a husband can only be prosecuted for ‘sexual assault’, and only then in very limited circumstances (i.e. if the couple are separated). The government’s focus seems to have shifted away from domestic violence towards sexual harassment and workplace discrimination – the Sexual Offences Act 1995 is currently under revision and a new national policy is being drawn up to address harassment by the civil service.

However, it should be noted that in 2016, a Support and Referral Centre was set up as a one-stop centre for survivors of gender-based violence and was the first of its kind in the Caribbean region. In January 2019, Antigua and Barbuda launched their sexual violence model court, which was another first in the Caribbean region. This court was intended to introduce specialised procedures to remedy the deficiencies in the judiciaries’ previous handling of sexual offences.