Organized welfare programs are conducted largely by private initiative, through ethnic or religious associations. However, the government has begun to establish a social welfare system designed eventually to include a free national health service.
Women have full legal rights under the law, but discrimination in hiring and salary practices persists. Opportunities for women remain limited as a result of traditional attitudes that encourage women to stay at home. This attitude is especially prevalent in rural areas. Spousal abuse and other forms of violence against women are widespread social problems, and the government has not addressed these issues.
Amerindians in Suriname have traditionally played only a limited role in decisions affecting their land and culture. Although Suriname's human rights record has improved, some abuses continue to be committed. These include the mistreatment of detainees, the abuse of prisoners, and overcrowding of jails. Pretrial detainees still constitute a large percentage of all prisoners. Nongovernmental organizations are permitted to monitor the conditions of prisons.