Barbados Police Advise Rape Victim “No Charges Possible Because Your Divorce Is Not Finalized”

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Barbados Women As Property

Only a few days after a United States Department of State report criticized Barbados for “societal violence against women and children”, Shona heard last night of a woman who was recently raped by her estranged husband – and our police say they are unable to lay charges because our laws are reflect a time when wives were owned by their husbands.

As it was explained to Shona, the woman has been separated from her husband for two years, but has not yet been able to obtain a divorce for reasons of money. The dispute over the marital assets and custody of the children is still before the courts as it has been for almost two years.

According to Shona’s source, the woman has not lived with or had relations with her husband for 25 months since he beat her one night over two years ago and she returned to live with her mother. Recently the “husband” forced his way into her mother’s home and raped her. There is no doubt about the rape because the neighbours saw him force the door and heard her screams, however it was all over pretty quick and by the time the police arrived he was gone.

The police do not doubt that there was a rape, but the victim has been told that a formal rape charge is not possible because, unlike some other jurisdictions, our rape law has not been updated to take care of a situation where there is no doubt that the couple no longer have a marriage, but no formal divorce has yet been obtained.

If all the above is true as Shona believes it to be, we cannot fault the Royal Barbados Police Force. We lay the blame squarely on the members of the past BLP Government who for 15 years failed to deliver even the most basic of modern laws that many other countries take for granted.

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28 Comments

Filed under Barbados, Crime & Law

28 responses to “Barbados Police Advise Rape Victim “No Charges Possible Because Your Divorce Is Not Finalized”

  1. view from the edge

    No respect for women in Barbados? So what else is new? All them big ups having their way with their deputies then walking away with disdain.

    All the sexual assaults where pre$$ure is put on girls and families to drop the charges so the rapist can do it again.That is the way it is from top down so don’t expect any changes none too soon.

    Women deserve better.

  2. : sigh :

    So where does the protest march meet? How deep is our disgust?

    Can I see a constitutional amendment saying rape under ANY circumstance is wrong?

  3. rumboy

    She could have a case at the Human Rights level, she should still seek legal advise. Sad state of affairs.

  4. rumboy

    On another matter, Brass Tacks today brought to my attention what a total rip off these companies who push hire purchase are doing. An item can cost as much as 200% more than the cash price and unfortunately it is the Bajan who is in the low salary bracket that pays the price. Goverment should take a serious look at this and place a cut off level at even a 75 – 100%, this would be much fairer.

  5. Confused 888

    This is absolutly disgusting… but not really surprising, especially in a society which habitually associates sex, pain and violence.

  6. Justice

    A divorce is not necessary; a protection order or a separation agreement would suffice. But it is sad that non-cohabitation for a period does not also make the offence one of rape where there is no consent.

  7. Tony Hall

    This has happened several times in Barbados and the Police are helpless in doing anything about it. The law has to be updated. There are too many loopholes. Same thing with domestic violence.I don’t think any Human Rights organisation can do anything about this at this stage. An organisation such as that cannot supercede the laws of a country. It gets back to people putting pressure on the politicians to upgrade and enact laws.I find that Barbadians are not pro-active enough in dealing with these matters. They seem to be afraid to write letters expressing their feelings, and some when they do want to remain anomynous for fear of victimisation. That is why strength is garnered in numbers.

  8. ROBOT

    If all the above is true as Shona believes it to be, we cannot fault the Royal Barbados Police Force. We lay the blame squarely on the members of the past BLP Government who for 15 years failed to deliver even the most basic of modern laws that many other countries take for granted.

    blame the BLP for everything
    go ahead

    thats easy to do
    i feel for people like wunna
    really

    *************************

    BFP says,

    How dare citizens expect progress and effective laws from a government that was in power for 15 years!

  9. Red Lake Lassie

    This a so typical of the last government. They ignored the laws themselves and didn’t see the value of a society having good laws. This situation happened last year at least once that I know of and I have heard of “non-rapes” many times before.

    What was the Minister in charge of women’s rights doing for the past 14 years of BLP government?

    What was the deputy prime minsiter Mottley doing about this? She was Attorney General for a while too.

    This is so typical. No proper laws but the politicians did what they wanted and spent billions but still no good laws. No basics. No water, sewer, etc etc etc.

    We still don’t have breathalyzer laws that were promised for three years in a row under the BLP and Owen $ Arthur.

    I hope the DLP is better.

  10. Rumplestilskin

    I find this surprising. Barbados does follow England common law and as far as I am aware under British law a husband can be tried for rape.

    Thus, if there are indeed British cases with convictions, then that is a precedent for Barbados, unless specifically excluded by statute.

    I suspect that the legal advice in this case MAY be questioned.

    Quite ironic that it is reported in the news that Barbados just sent notice to US authorities on an individual wanted on an international warrant, who was vacationing here.

    He was arrested on arrival in Miami en route to Canada, sent instead to France under a bilateral agreement.

    The original charge in France was rape.

    Yes, this fellow was vacationing here!

  11. Rumplestilskin

    Check ‘spousal rape’ in Wikipedia.

    As I said, it seems as if the above is suspect legal advice.

    Speak to a qualified and ‘honest’ lawyer who is not afraid of others.

    *****************

    BFP says,

    Hi Rump…

    Shona will be talking with some folks later tonight, but for most ordinary people if the police say they are not doing anything about it, that is the end. I understand that the officers sought advice from higher ups and the answer was still “no rape charge possible”.

  12. BGR

    The situation above is sad indeed. I don’t see why the police couldn’t instruct her in bringing a protection order against him and charge to suit when he steps out of line. As for hire purchase companies why do you think Courts like to go after the small man market, hire purchase companies are in business because of that not cash purchases, same way with credit card companies, they would go after those that use the card frequently and don’t bother with those that use it once in while. Interest runs the business.

    Bajan Global Report

  13. John

    Perhaps the laws in Barbados are antiquated in securing a conviction of rape but here is a story of what is possible when such a conviction exists, and the escaped, convicted rapist decides to come to Barbados for a holiday.

    http://www.caribbean360.com/News/Caribbean/Stories/2008/03/26/NEWS0000005626.html

    It isn’t clear who the authories were who identified him.

  14. Confused 888

    The UNICEF seems to think Barbados has outlawed marital rape

    http://www.unicef.org/pon97/le4to48.htm

  15. Rumplestilskin

    Right. ‘Confused 888′ above has linked to the UNICEF site indicating that Barbados has legislation specifically addressing marital rape.

    Now, the specific circumstance of the sad event above may be what is directing the officers decision i.e. maybe the reticence is due to evidence?

    I do not mean to sound harsh or crass, but did the young lady go to the doctor after or does she actually have witnesses willing to testify?

    Certainly you note above that her screams could be heard, but can you definitely select a number of these people to testify?

    Finally, as a commentor note above, it would be suggested that she immediately seek an injunction against his coming near her.

    A lawyer would represent the case for the injunction to the Magistrate / Judge. In addition, it would provide some evidence to a Court that she feels threatened enough to seek this injunction and provide some substantiation of previous problems in the event that he tries to repeat this act.

    I am not a lawyer and the above are based only on commonsense.

  16. Rumplestilskin

    So, taking this one step further.

    What would now be inferred, as it is appears that both legislation and common law provide for action against both domestic violence and marital rape, is that public education, especially for women, is necessary to highlight women’s rights and remedies available for abuse.

    That women do not know that such remedies exist indicates an urgent need for this education and improvement in sources of help for women.

  17. It happened to me

    I feel so desperately sorry for this woman. 25 years ago the same thing happened to me, unfortunately I became pregnant , I also miscarried, for which I am grateful. After all these years hardly a week goes by when something in the media or a film or here on BFP reminds me of what happened, it never goes away.
    I hope something can be done to prosecute this rapist.

  18. Justice

    Rumple…,
    Barbados does specifically provide for marital rape in section 3(4) of the Sexual Offences Act 1992. You will see there that a husband only commits rape if there are certain orders existing in respect of them (separation order, separation agreement or non-molestation order) or if a decree nisi is in existence. Otherwise, a husband cannot commit rape on his wife.

  19. Rumplestilskin

    Justice,

    Thanks for the clarification. This would mean that the Unicef reference is wrong.

    It should be brought to their attention.

    Bringing to their attention may also increase outside pressure on the authorities to change this.

  20. jamaicangirl2007

    Question…just putting another twist on the matter:

    You say “According to Shona’s source, the woman has not lived with or had relations with her husband for 25 months since he beat her one night over two years ago and she returned to live with her mother. Recently the “husband” forced his way into her mother’s home and raped her. There is no doubt about the rape because the neighbours saw him force the door and heard her screams, however it was all over pretty quick and by the time the police arrived he was gone”

    How do you know he raped her? Are you sure she didn’t stand up and scream rape so that people would hear her screaming and think badly? Rape is when a man forces himself upon a woman….how do you know this happened….also the lady doing the Chinese telephone bit of confirming that indeed there have been no relations over the last 2 years (I assume you mean sexual), are you sure the lady is not lying? I am only asking out of curiousity as the gentleman is being tried without a proper hearing….

    ***************
    BFP says,

    Of course – since the beginning of recorded history there have been women who have falsely claimed rape. That’s reality and it makes police and the courts skeptical of all rape claims. And they should be skeptical of all claims so that innocent men are not convicted.

    Our understanding of this incident is that the police believe there was a rape, but are unable to lay a rape charge because of the marital status of the couple. We don’t know exactly what evidence was collected or if other charges (assault etc) will be laid.

    As to the “gentleman” involved, perhaps you should use another term as “gentlemen” do not normally force doors or beat on women.

  21. liz

    Could she press charges of assault?

  22. Assault would be better, include battery – that is how a divorce in the late 70’s went quickly, via nolo contendre – on grounds of “physical cruelty” and the fact there were many witnesses

  23. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Barbados: Archaic Laws

  24. Kadri

    some may or may not know, some police like to twist de law and give it their own title and definition, i have seen it many time before, especially when the accused and the officer are close buddies, anyway, it is true that a husband cannot rape a wife, but do you people know that this is under only some circumstances?

    a husband can be charged for raping his wife, so do not be fooled.

  25. bajanbat

    “BFP says,
    How dare citizens expect progress and effective laws from a government that was in power for 15 years!”
    BFP, come on, I hope/assume you are being facetious! Otherwise …. I really don’t want to go there.
    My sympathy to that lady, she definitely needs independent legal advice, not take it from the Police.

    *****************

    BFP says,

    The last BLP government was characterised by a reluctance to enact laws. I truly believe that this was because they did not want the laws on the books to be used against themselves.

  26. J

    I don’t think that you all are being fair. If our rape laws are defective it is hardly a BLP thing. Our rape laws may well have been defective for 20 years or 40 years or 60 years r 100 years. Both the DLP and the BLP and the Conservatives too have been in office during that time. If the laws need to be changed then they need to be changed. We must stop the blame the other guys game and work with the current Parliament to get them changed. And I think that the police are aware that even if a rape charge cannot be laid then perhaps a charge of unlawful entry to the mother in laws home, since I doubt that the estranged husband is welcome there; and since it is not possible to rape a woman without also physically assaulting her then a charge of assault, and since it is always not possible to rape a woman without holding her against her will her then a charge of unlawful confinement. Women need to be educated, men too, and the police, and prosecutors, and the judiciary and jurors, all of us.

    *****************

    BFP says,

    So what, exactly, did the BLP Government do for women while in government for 15 years? After so long in government, yes… we can blame the BLP for failing to provide modern legislation in a number of areas. Women’s rights, environmental legislation and breathalizer laws immediately come to mind.

  27. US Dept of State on Barbados

    “Women

    The law prohibits rape, including spousal rape, and the maximum penalty for it is life imprisonment. There were legal protections against spousal rape for women holding a court-issued divorce decree, separation order, or nonmolestation order. At year’s end the RBPF reported 63 rapes, seven assaults with intent to rape, and 30 cases of sex with a minor.”

    http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2007/100627.htm

  28. this man should be dealth with severely, there must be some form of action that is enacted in the constitution to deal with him. My heart goes out to that wife.

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