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Antigua and Barbuda is a model for the Caribbean in the legal infrastructure for promoting the safety and security of the family, particularly women.
Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party are readying itself to contest the general elections, which will be held nationwide on January 18, 2023. The political party has announced their election manifesto. The detailed manifesto discusses various topics, including employment, tourism, housing, etc.
The political party has laid down the following plans for gender and legal affairs. According to the political party, Antigua and Barbuda is a model for the Caribbean in the legal infrastructure for promoting the safety and security of the family, particularly women.
They noted that the country is the home of two important exemplary institutions in the Eastern Caribbean: The first-ever Family Division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and the first Sexual Offences Model Court.
Antigua and Barbuda now also has a Sexual Offences Registry. These three developments represent a leap forward in protecting women’s and their children’s rights. According to the manifesto, they were made possible by the readiness of the ABLP Government and its legal department.
The ABLP-led Government established the sexual offences model court. According to the Antigua and Barbuda Labour party, Setting up the Sexual Offences Model Court is exemplary because it improves the quality of justice.
The sexual offences model Court ensures that sexual offence cases are dealt with quickly, mitigating the trauma experienced by the victim. At the same time, It allows any person accused of a sexual crime to prove their innocence. Since most sexual offence victims are directed at females, including children, the Court is an added protection for women’s safety in our society.
The Government has also established a family court for the benefit of the people. According to the Antigua and Barbuda labour party, The Government designed the Family Division of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to deal with problems arising from family relations. It also manages domestic disputes in a manner beneficial to all parties involved.
According to the Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, the set of progressive rules governed by the Family Division “will comprehensively provide for the practice and procedure about matters such as divorce proceedings, applications for interim remedies, wardship, care and adoption of children, the care and protection of children, maintenance and domestic violence”.
As per the Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party, both these Courts are change agents, giving women and children greater security. However, the men also benefit if they are also victims of domestic violence by wrongly accused. Altogether, the structure now exists to protect women and children in our society.
Further promoting women’s rights and family welfare, the ABLP Government increased paid maternity leave from 6 weeks to 14 weeks in September 2022. The Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party believe that Maternity leave is important not only for the healthy development of infants but also to ensure that the new mother’s physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being is safeguarded and strengthened.
According to ABLP, more than 50% of our nation’s workforce is women. The ABLP announced that Government is committed to the social inclusion of women in all aspects of our Next Level development.
The ABLP government established the Sexual Offences Registry Bill. They encouraged a bipartisan effort of the National Assembly to do so. Members urged to support the adoption of the Registry after a public consultation that took place over several months in 2022. The Registry will list convicted rapists and violators of sexual offence legislation publically.
The government aims to reduce the incidents of sexual re-offending by monitoring convicted sex offenders and sharing information with jurisdictions within the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States. Additionally, our female population can consult the register should suspicions arise about any individual.