Antigua and Barbuda - Social development

A social security fund provides for compulsory coverage of all persons between the ages of 16 and 60 years who are engaged in insurable employment. The program is funded by contributions from employees and employers. It provides old age, disability, and survivor benefits. The cost of a medical insurance scheme that includes maternity benefits is shared equally between employers and employees. The government operates daycare centers for children under five years of age. The seven-member Board of Guardians meets each month to interview destitute persons who have applied for relief.

Although there are no legal restrictions on women's roles in society, traditions tend to limit their activities outside the home. The Directorate of Women's Affairs provides programs in areas including health, crafts, and business skills to help women advance in the public and private sectors. Domestic violence against women is a serious problem, but the legal system is often lenient in addressing this issue. Police are often reluctant to intervene, and many abused women refuse to testify for fear of retaliation. Nongovernmental organizations are increasingly advocating women's rights and providing support to abused women. Child abuse also appears to be prevalent, but has yet to become a widely recognized social problem.

Human rights are generally respected by the government, although prison conditions are poor.

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