Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua & Barbuda

State policies and legislative resources
  • The Domestic Violence Act, reform 2015
  • The Sexual Offences Act, reform (2004).
  • The Trafficking in Person (Prevention)(Amendment) Act 2019
  • Disabilities and Equal Opportunities Act, 2017
  • The Social Protection Act, 2020
  • Status of Children Act of 2015
  • The Child Justice Act of 2015
  • The Children (Care and Adoption) Act of 2015
  • Corporal Punishment Act 1949 (not formally repealed)
  • Disabilities and Equal Opportunities Act, 2017
  • The Offences Against the Persons Act;
  • The Infant Life (Preservation) Act
  • National Youth Policy (2021)
  • National Health and Family Life Education Policy (2010) (HFLE)
  • National Child Protection Policy, 2021
  • National Policy for HIV and AIDS at the Workplace
  • There are no Gender




  • Strategic Action Plan to End Gender-based Violence (2011-2015).
  • National Strategic Action Plan to End Violence against women and Girls (2015-2018)
  • National Strategic Plan for HIV (2012-2016)
  • National action plan on trafficking for 2019–2021
  • National strategic plan for health for 2016–2020)
  • The Directorate of Gender Affairs is in talks with the Caribbean Development Bank to develop a Gender Policy.
  • A draft for a national workplace harassment policy, which includes sexual harassment is currently in development (DoGA)

GBV and SRHR Advocacy stakeholders

Government Institutions

  • The Directorate of Gender Affairs (DOGA)
  • The Support And Referral Centre (SARC)
  • The Sexual Offences Model Court
  • Special Victims Support Unit of the Royal Police Force, 2008
  • Trafficking in Persons Prevention Committee, 2019 (and enforcement unit)
  • The Ministry of Legal Affairs
  • Department of National Vocational and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabilities



Civil Society / Women's Movement

  • Antigua Planned Parenthood Association
  • Women against Rape
  • Be Foundation
  • The Caribbean Institute for Women in Leadership (CIWiL) – Antigua Chapter
  • Integrated Health Outreach (IHO)
  • Intesect
  • Her Shine Theory

Thematic Issues

Access to SRHR and GBV Services
  • The most current data often almost ten years old or more; The majority of indicators tracked by UNICEF on SRH are not available (UPR/APPA).
Implementation of anti-discrimination laws and policies against vulnerable populations
  • Buggery between two consenting adults is illegal under the Provisions of Sections 12 and 15 of the 1993 Sexual Offence Act. Anti-buggery laws are in effect, which are homophobic and discriminatory against men. Adult to adult incidents, whether consensual or otherwise, are subject to a maximum of 15 years imprisonment. The section notably polices all acts of anal intercourse, irrespective of sex, as it describes the act of buggery as occurring both between two males, and between a male and a female. This section of the law is noted to be infrequently enforced, except in instances where acts take place in public spaces (UPR, 2014).

Being monitored: On July 5, 2022 the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court ruled that Section 12 and Section 15 of the 1993 Sexual Offences Act were in contravention of Sections 3, 12, and 14 of the Constitution of Antigua and Barbuda. This upheld the human rights of the LGBT+ community, and all consenting adults to engage in same-sex intimacy, the constitutional rights of liberty, protection of the law, freedom of expression, protection of personal privacy, and protection from discrimination on the basis of sex.

Click here to read the Caribbean SRHR Observatory statement on the 2022 Ruling.

The SRHR Observatory will continue to monitor, and advocate for the legislative changes that will need to be implemented in keeping with the court’s ruling.

  • In terms of laws and policies, abortion is criminalized in Articles 56 and 57 of penal code, with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison (with the option of hard labor) for any women attempting to induce miscarriage, and a penalty of up to two years (with the option of hard labor), for any person who helps her or provides the means of inducing a miscarriage (UPR/APPA).
  • This Sexual Offences Act (1995) outlines the legal parameters of prostitution, and in doing so, reveal gender bias as the definition implicates only the sex seller and not the buyer. Persons living on earnings of prostitution and/or providing for spaces for the act to take place are guilty of offences, where no specific mention is made of those soliciting sex, predominantly known to be men (CGA, 2014).
  • Disabilities and Equal Opportunities Act was passed in 2017 to allow for strengthening of the rights that persons living with disabilities have. It also allows for the protection of law for persons living with disabilities not to be discriminated against in certain scenarios. One such achievement of the Act has been to require that all buildings constructed after the passing of the Act must have access for persons living with disabilities in order to get their construction plans approved prior to building. This has been strictly enforced and has been a success since 2017 (UPR/ National Report, 2021).
  • The Social Protection Act was passed in 2020; it establishes a Social Protection Board which allows for administration of a Social Protection Fund to assist in urgent cases (UPR/ National Report, 2021).
  • There is a CARICOM proposed bill on sexual harassment that was developed by the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS). While the draft exists, Antigua is of the belief that the general public needs to be sensitized as to what is and is not considered sexual harassment before such an Act can be imposed (UPR/ National Report, 2021).
Provisions of CSE and SRHR services for Children and Youth
  • Lack of legislative framework for adequate implementation of HFLE policy framework (UPR, 2014).
  • Corporal punishment of children is lawful in the home, alternative care settings, day care, schools and penal institutions, and a sentence for children convicted of an offence (UPR, 2014).
  • Marriage Act included exceptions that allowed marriage from the age of 16 years (CGA, 2014).
  • Little access of adolescents to sexual and reproductive health education, information, and services. This is, in part, due to discrepancies and contradictions in the law: the legal age of consent to sex is 16, but the legal age of majority (below which parental consent is required for medical treatment) is 18. This means that adolescents aged 16-17 are legally allowed to engage in sex but unable to legally access sexual and reproductive health services, including contraceptives, without parental consent. The only available family planning methods at health services for these young people are condoms (UPR/APPA).
  • Corporal punishment was prohibited as a sentence for crime in article 72 of the Child Justice Act 2015. However, provisions authorizing judicial corporal punishment for persons under 18 – in the Offences Against the Persons Act 1873, the Criminal Law Amendment Act 1887, the Railways Offences Act 1927, the Magistrates Code of Procedure Act 1949 and the Corporal Punishment Act 1949 – should be formally repealed (UPR/HRC, 2021).
  • The Domestic Violence Act 2015 does not prohibit all corporal punishment in childrearing nor repeal the common law right “to administer reasonable punishment” (UPR/HRC, 2021).
  • The Juvenile Act Section 5 (6) recognizes the right of any parent, teacher or other person having the lawful control or charge of a juvenile to administer reasonable punishment to him. Therefore, this legislation allows for the administration of corporal punishment to children (UPR/HRC, 2021).
  • The Children (Care and Adoption) Act 2015 defines parental responsibility with reference to the duties, powers, responsibilities, authority, rights and obligations and protects children from “abuse and neglect”, but it does not prohibit corporal punishment (UPR/HRC, 2021).
  • Article 50 of the Education Act 2008 states that “degrading or injurious punishment shall not be administered” but that corporal punishment may be administered “where no other punishment is considered suitable or effective, and only by the principal, deputy principal or any teacher appointed by the principal for that purpose, in a manner which is in conformity with the guidelines issued in writing by the Director of Education”; the punishment should be recorded in a punishment book. Article 51 provides for the Minister to abolish corporal punishment subject to Parliamentary approval (UPR/HRC, 2021).
  • There is a lack of a gender perspective in the implementation of the Education Act; the limited education on sexual and reproductive health and rights; the insufficient implementation of the policy on the re-entry and retention of girls in school following childbirth, and that such girls often dropped out of school owing to stigma; the limited information on protection mechanisms for women and girls who were victims of sexual violence and harassment in schools (UPR/HRC, 2021).
  • Antigua and Barbuda in 2015 underwent major reform as it relates to the rights of children. The OECS in partnership with UNICEF pioneered the Juvenile Justice program in Antigua and Barbuda. Four Acts were passed in 2015 to start this project namely The Domestic Violence Act, the Child Justice Act, the Status of the Child Act and the Child (Care and Adoption) Act (UPR/ National Report, 2021).
  • The Government unveiled a National Child Protection Policy in September 2021 which outlines the Government’s policy as it relates to the importance of the rights of children and the Commitment the Government has to strengthen its capacity for protecting the rights of children within the country. The suite of legislation has had the most beneficial effect in juvenile justice reform. Juveniles are no longer housed in the prison with adults as a general rule (UPR/ National Report, 2021).


Enabling Legal and policy framework to advance SRHR and GBV
  • Although the Domestic Violence Act of 2015, which replaced the Domestic Violence (Summary Proceedings) Act of 1999, had expanded the definition of domestic violence, the Sexual Offences Act still did not include marital rape. This Act does not recognize rape within marriage, except under certain circumstances pertaining to the separation or dissolution of the marriage (CGA, 2014).
  • Women are not able to commit the crime of “rape” (defined as penetration), and penalties for unlawful carnal knowledge (sex with a minor) are less for women who commit these crimes than men who do the same (CGA, 2014).
  • In terms of laws and policies, abortion is criminalized in Articles 56 and 57 of penal code, with a penalty of up to 10 years in prison (with the option of hard labour) for any women attempting to induce miscarriage, and a penalty of up to two years (with the option of hard labour), for any person who helps her or provides the means of inducing a miscarriage (UPR.HRC, 2021).
  • A narrow exception or abortions exists under the Infant Life Preservation Act of 1937, under which “no person shall be found guilty of the offence of destroying a child capable of being born alive if the act was done in good faith for preserving the life of the mother.” In practice, it is possible to have an abortion performed by a license medical practitioner in order to save a woman’s life, but it is costly, meaning that this is primarily only available to wealthy women whose lives are at risk. Additionally, due to the stigma around abortion, women and girls still seek out and have unsafe abortions, which can threaten their health and lives. There is no reliable data on how many unsafe abortions take place and the impact this has on preventable maternal mortality and morbidity rates (UPR/APPA).
  • Evaluation of the implementation of legislation, national plans, projects, programmes, services and other initiatives for addressing violence against women is generally lacking (MESECVI, 2017).
  • Antigua and Barbuda has made significant advances since the Second Evaluation Round in the areas of legislative reform, GBV training, data analysis (via the establishment of an electronic GBV database), national plans and services. Services include the establishment of a one-stop crisis centre and the construction of a Sexual Assault Response Centre (MESECVI, 2017);

From the 2021 UPR, Antigua ratified:

  • the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (2016), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (2019) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (2019)
  • the Trafficking in Persons Prevention Committee, and this Committee has been established since 2019.
  • The Domestic Violence Act 2015 has shown to have improved the ability of the courts to protect persons involved in domestic violence situations.
  • The OECS in partnership with UNICEF pioneered the Juvenile Justice program in Antigua and Barbuda: passing of 4 Child related Acts.
  • The Ministry of Legal Affairs has made amendments to local legislation in order to improve both rights of women and girls under the law and their access to justice. Some of these newly introduced and amended laws include the Domestic Violence Act (2015) which expands the definition of domestic violence under the law, and mandates that police offices file a report on every reported case of domestic violence among other measures. This would ensure that more women are able to seek redress under the law and makes it more likely for their cases to be heard within the court (UPR/HRC, 2021).
  • Rather than sector-specific action plans, which had been difficult to implement, the Directorate of Gender Affairs was developing a national gender equality action plan and policy, through national consultations with civil society and at all levels of government, to ensure that the plan was aligned with the national development strategy. The plan and policy would need to have a monitoring and evaluation framework to ensure accountability, and would also need a communications plan and an interministerial coordination mechanism to ensure implementation (UPR/HRC, 2021).
  • Draft national child protection policy of Antigua and Barbuda for 2020–2025 (UPR/HRC, 2021).
  • Government is in the process of developing a National Gender Policy which strengthens the Government’s commitment to Gender Equality (UPR/HRC, 2021).
  • In 2019, the Minister of Health, Wellness and the Environment committed in a letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations to take a series of actions, including to “Establish legislation to allow women with unwanted pregnancies to access legal and safe methods of termination of pregnancy so as to prevent maternal morbidity and mortality related to illegal and unsafe abortions,” as well as to establish a National Adolescent Health Department by 2020 which would, inter alia, aid the reduction of teenage pregnancy to less that 8% and improve accessibility to health services and better facilitate access to reproductive health and contraceptive measures’ The government committed US $32 million to the health of women and children to realize these commitments.

In March 2020, the Attorney General committed to bring the issue of abortion to the Cabinet and review the Offense Against the Person Act of 1873 (UPR/ APPA, 2021).

  • Since the second cycle of the UPR, the country has ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) (2016), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) (2019) and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) (2019).


  • Antigua and Barbuda, Country report. Third round oea/Ser.L/II.7.10 CONVENTION OF BELÉM DO PARÁ (MESECVI) MESECVI/CEVI/doc.253/17 Fourteenth Meeting of the Committee of Experts (CEVI) November 21, 2017
  • Huggins, T. (2014). Country gender assessment: Antigua and Barbuda. Wildey, Barbados, Caribbean Development Bank.
  • National report submitted in accordance with paragraph 5 of the annex to Human Rights Council resolution 16/21. Antigua and Barbuda Human Rights Council. Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review Thirty-ninth session, 1–12 November 2021
  • Report submitted to UPR, Antigua Planned Parenthood Association, 2021
  • Compilation on Antigua and Barbuda. Report of the Office of the United Nations, High Commissioner for Human Rights, Human Rights Council
  • Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Thirty-ninth session, 1–12 November 2021
  • Corporal punishment of children in Antigua and Barbuda: Briefing for the Universal Periodic Review, 39th session, 2021. From the Global Partnership to End Violence Against Children, March 2021
  • Summary of Stakeholders’ submissions on Antigua and Barbuda. Report of the Office of the United Nations, High Commissioner for Human Rights. Human Rights Council Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Thirty-ninth session ,1–12 November 2021
  • Antigua and Barbuda, 2020 Human Rights Report, 2021