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Gender Based Violence

Gender-based violence undermines the health, dignity, security and autonomy of its victims, yet it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. Victims of violence can suffer sexual and reproductive health consequences, including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions, traumatic fistula, sexually transmitted infections including HIV, and even death. UNFPA is one of the UN's lead agencies working to further gender equality and women’s empowerment, and to address the physical and emotional consequences of gender-based violence. UNFPA’s programmes offer psychosocial assistance, medical treatment and rape kits to survivors, and promote the right of all women and girls to live free of violence and abuse.

Gender Based Violence is a problem across the Caribbean region. Intimate partner violence, domestic violence, sexual violence among others are the most common forms of Gender Based Violence in the Caribbean region. Recent studies conducted in Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago indicate that 27-40 percent of women reported to have experienced violence at the hands of their partners. The prevalence surveys also confirm that the persistence of risks of violence that women face in the home and the community is rooted in gender inequality. Inequitable gender norms support male dominance in intimate partner relationships. Over the past decade, efforts towards women’s empowerment and gender equality have also been undermined by a misguided notion of male marginalization in the region, resulting in pushback against interventions aimed at the empowerment of women and girls. There is a strong culture of silence and acceptance surrounding the topic of GBV in the Caribbean, and it is not uncommon for the blame to be placed on the survivor rather than the perpetrator, increasing the stigma surrounding the topic and presenting a barrier for survivors to access GBV response services. Most Caribbean countries have comprehensive laws on domestic and sexual violence, though a restrictive understanding of GBV exists. For example, marital rape in the Caribbean is limited to specific circumstances, with the exception of Dominica, Guyana, Jamaica, and Trinidad and Tobago. While Spotlight Initiative investments, through one regional and five national programmes, have strengthened prevention and response mechanisms in the region, GBV is a persistent systemic problem across the Caribbean that requires a coordinated and dedicated inter-agency and intra-governmental response.