State policies and legislative resources
- Sexual Offenses Act, reforms (2000, 2007)
- Domestic Violence Act), reforms 2000, 2007)
- Penal Code (Amendment) Criminal Code (Amendment) Act (2000).
- Law Nº 8589 ‘Law Criminalizing Violence against Women
- Prevention Against Sexual Harassment Act Cap 107 – passed August 1996
- Revision of the Trafficking in Persons (Prohibition) Act, 2013
- The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (Prohibition) Act and the amendment of the Criminal Code
- The Children against Sexual Exploitation of Children Act, CSEC (2013)
- National HIV Act
- Revised National Gender Policy 2013, National Women’s Commission
- National Policy on Sexual and Reproductive Health (2002)
- ‘Treat All’ Policy for HIV treatment
- SRH Policy 2020 (draft)
- National Youth Policy 2012-2022
- National HIV Guidelines 2021
- Clinical Management Guidelines for HIV
- NAP on GBV, 2007-2009
- National Gender Based Violence Plan of Action (2010 – 2013)
- National Gender-based Violence Action Plan: A multisectoral Plan to Prevent and Respond to GBV in Belize 2017-2020
- National HIV/STI/VH and TB Strategic Plan 2021-2025
- Drafting National Implementation Plans for both the National Policy on Gender Equality and NGBVP 2017-2020
- National Social and Behavior Change Communication Strategy on Prevention of Violence Against Women and Girls 2022 (inclusive of SRH)
- National Children’s Agenda (2017-2030)
- Adolescent Health Strategy
- Health Sector Strategy 2014-2024
GBV and SRHR Advocacy stakeholders
- National Women’s Commission
- TIPS Unit, established in 2018
- The Family Violence Unit (FVU) in Belize City
- Women’s and Family Support Services Department
- Department of Human Services (Child Protection Services)
- National Gender and Gender-based Violence Committee and the District Gender-based Violence Committees
- National Aids Commission (NAC)
- Ministry of Human Development
- Joint Intelligence Coordination Centre (JICC)
- Sexual Offenders Registry
- The Community Rehabilitation Department
- National Commission for Families and Children (children-focused)
- National Council on Ageing (elderly-focused)
- Ministry of Health (MCH Programme)
- Ministry of Health (Psychiatric Nursing Programme)
- NHI (Global Fund)
- Ministry of Health (HIV/AIDS Programme)
Civil Society / Women's Movement
- Belize Family and Life Association (BFLA),
- The Inspiration Centre (TIC)
- Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC)
- Young Men’s Christian Association
- Samuel Haynes Institute of Excellence
- Our Circle
- Ret International Belize
- Spouse of CARICOM Leaders Action Network (SCLAN)
- Youth Enhancement Services (YE)
- Haven House
- Mary Open Doors
- Cornerstone Foundation
- House of Dorcas
- Civil Society Hub (Global Fund)
- Productive Organization for Women in Action (POWA)
- Child Development Foundation (CDF)
Access to SRHR and GBV Services
Data is being analysed and will be presented here shortly.
Implementation of anti-discrimination laws and policies against vulnerable populations
- Discriminatory provisions of the Immigration Act of 2000 relating to foreign nationals. Entry could be denied to a migrant worker and dependent children under 16 years of age on discriminatory grounds, including health or medical status, irrespective of whether there was a risk or danger to public health; and physical or psychosocial disability, if it was considered likely to become a burden on public funds; as well as to homosexuals, sex workers, and persons suffering from a communicable disease, including HIV/AIDS (UPR, 2018).
- Amendments are needed in abortion law to remove the punitive provisions (UPR, 2018).
- While common law heterosexual partners who had cohabited for 5 or more years benefitted from the estate of their partner if the latter died intestate, as if they were formally married spouses, there was no succession in the ownership of a house for same sex partners (UPR, 2018).
- No legislation specifically prohibiting discrimination against persons living with disabilities and HIV and AIDS (UPR, 2018).
- The National AIDS Commission (NAC) is collaborating with the Attorney General’s Ministry in the drafting of an Anti Discrimination Bill to address issues of discrimination against persons living with HIV/AIDS (UPR/Government Report, 2018).
BEING MONITORED. MOBILISATION NEEDED FOR ADVOCACY.
Provisions of CSE and SRHR services for Children and Youth
- Lack of information on sexual and reproductive health services was a prevailing problem, especially in rural communities, and that faith-based schools prohibited or limited discussions on sexual and reproductive health (UPR, 2018).
- Little progress in the development and implementation of comprehensive sexuality education programs in schools (BFLA, 2018).
Note from UNFPA Belize: UNFPA through the support of the Spotlight Initiative worked directly with the Belize Family Life Association (BFLA) contributed to an increase in the number of young women and girls, young men and boys who benefit from programmes that promote gender-equitable norms, attitudes and behaviours and exercise of rights, including reproductive rights. Utilizing the CSE Manual updated in 2020 in line with international standards for CSE, BFLA expanded its Peer-Education capacity training to 80 community-level peer educators and equipped them with CSE toolkits to support the roll out of CSE among the out of school young people, particularly from the rural communities. These community-level CSE trainers were subsequently able to deliver training to 328 out-of-school young people and an additional 51 teachers, social workers and youth officers in 2021. With a focus on ensuring sustainability of the CSE Peer Education Programme and ensuring that the national reach of the CSE community level trainers can be sustained and expanded, UNFPA supported the establishment of a National CSE Peer Education Network with an accompanying CSE Action Plan. Most significantly and ensuring that the capacities of the CSE trainers are in line with regional standards, UNFPA facilitated the training and certification of 15 (fifteen) of the 80 (eighty) community-based CSE Trainers through the Regional Training of Trainers (TOT) Course on CSE delivery under the Spotlight Initiative Caribbean Regional Programme.
- Lack of a comprehensive sexuality education policy and the influence of the strong opposition from religious leaders in this regard. It added that the lack of a national policy on comprehensive sexuality education in schools exacerbated the human rights violations already experienced by women and girls who were victims of gender-based violence and served to perpetuate the cycle of violence (BFLA, 2018).
- New legislation was pending in relation to prohibition of corporal punishment in homes (UPR, 2018).
- Lack of a law or national policy on bullying in education (UPR, 2018).
Enabling Legal and policy framework to advance SRHR and GBV
- Although Belize has a national plan for SRHR, there are no clear training requirements for health personnel, nor are there any budgets specifically allocated to address priority issues (Mira Que te Miro, 2018).
- Abortion is not penalized in the criminal code in cases of risk to the life or health of the woman, or in cases of fetal malformation incompatible with extrauterine life. However, there are no protocols that specify whether public hospitals can provide legal abortion services, which imposes a barrier to the effective implementation of safe and legal abortion services (Mira Que te Miro, 2018).
- There is great difficulty in accessing government documents that account for existing regulations and programs, demonstrating Belize to be one of the countries in the region with the lowest access to public information (Mira Que te Miro, 2018).
- Lack of information on HIV prevention and of women’s power to use such information in sexual relationships, including in the context of marriage, undermined their ability to negotiate condom use and engage in safer sex practices (BFLA, 2018).
- The Sexual Offenders Registry, which was provided for by law, had never been implemented (UPR, 2018). Through the Spotlight Initiative Phase 2 support will be provided to the Attorney General’s Ministry to develop regulations for the implementation of the Criminal Code to operationalize the Sexual Offenders Registry.
- Belize had included gender equality in its Growth and Sustainable Development Strategy, but specific programmes to combat violence against women had not been discussed in that context (UPR, 2018).
- No amendment of law requiring parental consent for HIV testing of minors and had failed to address the stigmatization of and discrimination against those living with HIV (UPR, 2018).
- The National Women’s Commission is currently drafting National Implementation Plans for both the National Policy on Gender Equality and NGBVP 2017-2020 which will put in place actionable timelines for the implementation of concrete measures (UPR/Government Report, 2018).
- To assist with advancing the implementation of the National Policy on Gender Equality adopted by GoB in March of 2013, the National Women’s Commission (NWC) established the National Gender and Gender-based Violence Committee and the District Gender-based Violence Committees. The Committees were established as an integrated, multifaceted, multi-sectoral response to address all forms of gender issues with respect to the five priority areas of Health, Education, Wealth and Employment, Power and Decision making, and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) (UPR/Government Report, 2018).
- The National Gender- Based Violence Plan (NGBVPA) 2017-2020 was launched in 2017, and updated in 2021. The 2017–2020 action plan is preceded by and builds on the 2010-2013 NGBVPA and lays out a three-year framework in effectively decreasing gender-based violence and providing better support to victims. The NGBVPA provides a basis for advocacy work to end gender-based violence in all its forms and serves as a tool to assist policy and decision makers to contribute to the achievement of the national and international goals. The NWC is responsible for the coordination of the implementation of the plan at national and regional levels (UPR/Government Report, 2018).
- At the regional level, the NAC partners with Caribbean Vulnerable Communities Coalition (CVC). The NAC in collaboration with CVC provided training to the stakeholders of both Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) and members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex (LGBTQI) community on Legal Literacy and Advocacy. This activity is part of a three (3) year regional project titled: Challenging Stigma and Discrimination to Improve Access to and Quality of HIV Services in the Caribbean (p. 11) (UPR/Government Report, 2018).
- In 2017, Belize established two human rights observatories which seek to raise awareness on discriminatory laws and procedures for persons living with HIV, and to advocate for access to legal rights and fair trials utilizing a human rights-based approach for survivors of violence. Both observatories are staffed by attorneys who monitor cases related to key populations’ access to justice, with specific focus on cases of violence, abuse and discrimination. The observatories provide legal services and file complaints to the OMB, where applicable, or seek appropriate legal recourse (UPR/Government Report, 2018).
- Consistent with Belize’s commitment to the UNAIDS 90 90 90 goals, the GoB has revised its HIV treatment guidelines to adopt the ‘Treat All’ Policy which states that once a person is diagnosed with having HIV, he/she will have immediate access to ARV treatment regardless of CD4 counts and viral load as this is their fundamental right The provision of antiretroviral medication remains free of cost for all (p. 10). Some follow up testing have been decentralized with having the services available in the regions, closer to home such as for example, viral load measurement hence, conducing to a reduction of stigma and discrimination (UPR/Government Report, 2018).
- In 2017, ATIP’s Council and the BPD conducted a series of trainings to build the capacity of the police officers attached to the Domestic Violence Unit (DVU) and Criminal Investigative Branch on human trafficking, victim identification and referral to the investigative unit within the BPD. The Council also partnered with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and international organizations to provide training to teachers, national utility workers, social security board inspectors, and private employers in the tourism sector on human trafficking, victim identification, and reporting. Extensive training was conducted with immigration officers, customs officers, labour officers, social workers, prosecutors and judges (UPR/Government Report, 2018).
- Public education through the placements of billboards on major highways, public service announcements on the media and information sessions with communities are ongoing (UPR/Government Report, 2018).
- Alcalde, M. A., Hunt, F., Malajovich, L., Mimbela, R., Pinto, E., & Baruch, R. (2018). Social monitoring report on the Sexual and Reproductive Rights commitments of the Montevideo Consensus – 2017. New York: MIRA que te MIRO.
- National report Belize, Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Thirty-first session, 5–16 November 2018
- Compilation on Belize, Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Thirty-first session, 5–16 November 2018
- Summary of Stakeholders’ submissions on Belize, Human Rights Council, Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review, Thirty-first session, 5–16 November 2018