Information on the recourse and facilities available to victims of spousal abuse [GRD19906.E]

The following description of the recourse and facilities available to victims of spousal abuse was provided by a representative with the Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic in St. George's, in a telephone interview (21 Feb. 1995). According to the representative, few specific recourses are available to victims of spousal abuse. There are no specific laws against spousal abuse or domestic violence (ibid.). Instead, charges are brought against a battering spouse under sections of the law dealing with assault and battery or murder (ibid.). According to the representative, the procedure for laying a charge requires the abused person to make a formal complaint to the police, who then open a case and make a report. Rarely is the accused offender detained, except in incidents of serious violence. A case may take as long as six months before it is brought to court (ibid.). The maximum sentence for an assault charge is two years, according to the representative, although lenient sentences such as a fine are often imposed. An abused spouse can petition the High Court for an injunction or restraining order against an accused abuser for protective purposes. However, in practice, a restraining order takes time to obtain, as well as requiring legal assistance, and it is not always effective since "24 hours protection is not possible" (ibid.). In addition, a protected person would have to show "substantive" evidence, such as a medical certificate of injury, to corroborate a violation of the restraining order. Threats, verbal harassment and mental abuse would not be "substantive enough" (ibid.).

According to the representative, domestic violence is not considered a serious crime, but rather a social problem, by the general public and by the police. As a result, there is a negative social stigma attached to women who bring complaints of abuse against their partners. Furthermore, any legal remedy available is not frequently pursued because of costs and the fact that women in abusive situations are often dependent on the abusive partner for support. In addition, because spousal abuse cases are held in open court, some women are fearful of exposing what may seem to them to be a private matter (ibid.).

Under Grenadian law, a case is dropped by the police if the charges are withdrawn by the complainant. The representative said it is not uncommon for charges to be withdrawn because the couple has reconciled, or because the abuse has stopped and the spouse no longer wishes to pursue the original charge (ibid.). The representative also stated that the police may be wary of taking spousal abuse cases seriously because charges may be withdrawn (ibid.). Limited police resources can also impede investigation of marital abuse cases, the representative stated.

A member of A Group of Concerned Women, a Grenada women's organization, corroborated the report of the representative of the Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic in a telephone interview (21 Feb. 1995). The member, who is currently studying the issue of violence against women in Grenada also noted that the current law does not recognize spousal rape as a crime (ibid.). In addition, psychological, verbal or mental abuse is generally not seen as spousal abuse either by the law, or by the general public (ibid.).

Both sources provided the following information on available facilities. They stated that there are few facilities for abused spouses. There are no shelters so it is difficult for women to leave abusive partners unless they can stay with friends or relatives. Furthermore, women who are dependent on their partners for financial support and that of their children, usually cannot afford to leave. Legal aid and counselling is available, but resources are limited, the two sources stated. Legal aid is provided for those earning less than 4 000 EC dollars annually. A telephone hotline had to disband last year when funding ran out, according to the member of the women's group.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


A Group of Concerned Women, St. George's. 21 February 1995. Telephone interview with representative.

Legal Aid and Counselling Clinic, St. George's. 21 February 1995. Telephone interview with representative.