Women’s Rights Around The World: Caribbean Victims Of Sexual Assault Are Ignored, Activists Say

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A report by Jamie Joseph for the International Business Times.

Women’s rights have become a particularly hot topic worldwide — with organized marches, panels and activist events soaring as progressives push for an equal rights agenda. However, women in the Caribbean were often excluded from making any progress toward the movement’s goals, as violence was increasingly an issue throughout West Indian islands.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the World Bank reported the murder rates in the Caribbean were among the highest in the world, with 30 per 100,000 population every year. Sexual assault rates were also recorded “significantly above average,” alongside high rates of homicide. Islands on the list where rape cases were above average included Jamaica, Bahamas, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Dominica, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago and St. Kitts/Nevis.

Thirty percent to 50 percent of murders in the Caribbean were cases of domestic violence, according to the University of the West Indies’ Institute of Gender Studies. A contributing factor to sexual assault in these countries was the widespread cultural acceptance of them. One example was the casual saying in Jamaica, “after 12 is lunch,” referring to girls past the age of 12 being old enough to sexualize. Women were also encouraged to stay with their boyfriends even if they were being sexually abused — 14 to 38 percent of women had experienced sexual assault by their partner at some point in their lives.

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