Last edited: November 2005
Summary and Analysis
The Convention on the Rights of the Child was ratified in 1993. The CRC does not have force without separate domestic legislation, and the substance of Article 12 has not been passed through domestic legislation.
SVG set up a Family Court in 1992 to handle domestic violence issues. This court marked an improvement in the child's ability to be heard; for example, it allows children to testify in closed court instead of in an open court where anyone from the outside was able to attend. In 2001, SVG began forming legislation within the framework of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), which is meant to consolidate all the laws related to children into one legislation that will apply to all of the Eastern Caribbean States. This process is a slow one, however, partially because each of the member states was at a different level of progression in its legislation and norms at the beginning of the process.
Government social workers may be assigned to work with a child, but not always, and they are not professionally trained counselors. Also, there are very few of them. The country is zoned politically into 15 areas, and there is not one per area. The social workers are also limited in terms of training and experience. For example, if a child is raped and must go to court to testify, the child will generally not be given guidance, assistance, or moral support by a social worker. Marian House (a private NGO) may provide this guidance to a child through its pro bono legal counselor. NGO counselors have professional training.
Regarding lawyers, in shaping the Family Court, advocates believed there should be no lawyers because lawyers were viewed as trying to intimidate children and other family members rather than supporting them.
The government social workers are paid by the government. Marion House is free and voluntary and must source its own funding.
The right to speak is provided by the Juvenile Act. The child has the right to be heard, but the child is generally intimidated and therefore is afraid to speak and has little confidence or support, especially in incestuous relationships. The child will therefore often say what is not true. The perpetrator accused of wronging the child, on the other hand, will have a lawyer.
Sources of Law (In Order of Authority)
The Juvenile Act
Local Contact Information
New Democratic Party and Board Member of Caribbean Association for Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA)
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