Jamaica is on track to open its first National Shelter for victims of domestic abuse in August.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, has informed that work has resumed on two of the three shelters that the Government is planning to open across the island.
She was making her presentation in the 2020/2021 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (July 14).
“The work-from-home Orders had stopped our work to renovate and retrofit buildings to be used as National Shelters for victims of domestic abuse, but I am happy to say that the work has resumed and we’re on schedule to open one of the shelters in August this year,” the Minister said.
She added that the Ministry has taken possession of the second property, and the title for the third property is now being transferred.
The first shelter will serve mid-island communities, while the other two will address the needs of those in the eastern and western region.
“Domestic abuse has increased across the world during the COVID-19 lockdown. The stay-at-home measures that countries have had to implement had the unfortunate side effect of having women and our children locked up with their abusers, sometimes without access to family or friends or an opportunity to call for help. But, we’re able to respond to all calls for help that we receive and we continue to build our capacity to respond,” Miss Grange said.
In the meantime, she said the Ministry is working on a number of initiatives to combat and to eliminate gender-based violence in Jamaica.
Miss Grange cited the Spotlight Initiative Jamaica programme, which was launched in March, which will strengthen the Government’s efforts to end violence against women and girls.
The Spotlight Initiative, which is a global multi-year partnership involving the European Union and the United Nations, is focused on eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls.
The Jamaican programme, however, will focus on establishing 24-hour hotlines for victims, including text lines for the deaf and hearing-impaired, review and/or development of legislation to increase protection of vulnerable people, such as children and the elderly, as well as on-going sensitisation of the public on gender-based violence.
Additionally, she said the Ministry has also established partnerships with Jamaicans for Justice; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and the High Commission of Canada in its effort to eliminate gender-based violence and empower women and girls, and achieve gender equality.