Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, says that nurses, police officers, justice system personnel, and other front-line workers will benefit from training in understanding gender-based violence.
The training is part of the 2021 work plan for the Spotlight Initiative, which has been approved.
Speaking in the House of Representatives on Tuesday (April 20), the Prime Minister said that the 2021 work plan also includes expanding domestic violence intervention centres attached to police stations across the island, strengthening local coordination networks that support survivors of violence and abuse, and supporting the establishment of national shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and their dependents.
The Spotlight Initiative is a three-year programme costing approximately US$10.9 million, which is aimed at addressing family and gender-based violence in Jamaica.
It seeks to contribute to transforming the society into one where women and girls can live free from family violence.
The Prime Minister noted that while the initiative takes a women and girls-centred approach, efforts will also be made to engage men and boys “to address the toxic masculinity that is embedded in the society”.
As such, the programme will also seek to educate parents and men to explore beliefs and attitudes towards gender-based violence.
Mr. Holness told the House that the Spotlight Initiative is being implemented at a time when widespread crime and violence against women and girls continue to affect families and communities.
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened an already bad situation and that around the world there is a 30 per cent increase in reports of violence against women.
“In Jamaica, more than 700 new cases were reported to the Victim Support Unit in March and April 2020 when compared to previous months,” Mr. Holness said.
He said that while the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted implementation of the Spotlight Initiative, there was meaningful progress.
“During 2020, the Government initiated a process for a comprehensive review of the Sexual Offences Act, Offences Against the Person Act, Domestic Violence and Child Care and Protection Acts. Spotlight has been a partner in this legislative review process by facilitating multisectoral dialogue,” Mr. Holness informed.
In addition, a partnership between Spotlight and the Bureau of Gender Affairs (BGA) was established to strengthen the capacity of the Bureau to review and implement the National Strategic Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence (NSAP-GBV) and the National Policy for Gender Equality (NPGE).
The Prime Minister further informed that a media campaign was launched aimed at encouraging children, parents and communities to get involved and take action against violence against girls.
In addition, two public service announcements promoting the national reporting mechanism for child abuse generated more than 74 million impressions on traditional and social media platforms.
The Spotlight Initiative Country Programme for Jamaica was launched in March 2020, in collaboration with the European Union and the United Nations.