- On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I wish to speak especially to our men.
- Violence against women and girls is a human problem. Not just a women’s problem. It’s a problem for men too.
- We each must commit to doing everything in our power to stop shaming and blaming the victims, and instead turn the attention on the perpetrators. Too many of them have gotten off scot-free. No more!
On this International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, I wish to speak especially to our men.
I know that some of you turn away at the mention of the phrases “gender violence” and “women’s issues”.
It’s not that you are all bad and do not care. I know it’s because you don’t see a place for yourselves in “women’s issues” or “gender violence”.
And that’s because for too many years, these issues have been presented as the woman’s fight.
To me, that’s a huge misrepresentation and part of the reason why we haven’t made much more progress in eliminating violence against women and girls.
Violence against women and girls is a human problem. Not just a women’s problem. It’s a problem for men too.
Gender violence takes many forms, including:
and sexual abuse of children
The magnitude of on-going violence against women and children in our country is cause for alarm.
The police statistics for the year 2014 show that there were 2,199 reported cases of sexual violence against women and girls. But we know from experience that many many other acts of violence went unreported — in large part due to attitudes towards the brave women who report acts of violence.
In fact, the United Nations Women Organisation estimates that 35 per cent of women have experienced either physical and/or sexual violence from their partner or someone with whom they were not intimately involved.
35 percent! That’s one woman out of every three.
That means you know at least one woman who has suffered, is suffering, or will suffer gender violence.
Just think about that for a minute.
And then think about who are the perpetrators of the violence.
Do you still think there is no place for you in the struggle to eliminate violence against women and girls?
Men are the main perpetrators of gender violence. And that fact makes them indispensable in ending the violence.
Boys and men suffer gender violence as well — perhaps not in the same way as girls and women. But one act of violence against anyone is one act too many.
My Government is committed to doing all it can to ensure that we put an end to this scourge.
A raft of policy and legislative initiatives is poised for approval and ratification.
The National Strategic Action Plan on Gender-based Violence is ready for submission to Cabinet and it will be taken there before the end of the year.
The Joint Select Committee of Parliament which will examine the Sexual Offences Act and related legislation will be announced in Parliament next month.
And the Sexual Harassment Bill is also ready for Cabinet review.
After ratification comes the most important part: implementation and enforcement.
I assure you that I will lead that charge with focus and determination.
We can end the violence. It requires all of us to end the violence.
In the spirit of this year’s theme — “Protect and Reassure: Unite to End Gender-Based Violence” — I call on all our men and women in Jamaica to take a stand.
Start by denouncing the violence today and during the 16 days of activism that follow.
Then we must stop turning a blind eye to the gender violence we know goes on next door.
We must get help for the victim and the suffering family.
We each must commit to doing everything in our power to stop shaming and blaming the victims, and instead turn the attention on the perpetrators. Too many of them have gotten off scot-free. No more!
And men, especially, must get involved in this movement to create a better world for their daughters, their mothers, their sisters, their aunts, their uncles, their fathers, their sons, and for themselves.
Let’s protect and reassure.
Let’s unite to end gender violence.