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  • The Government is finalising the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Bill, which will be brought to the House of Representatives shortly.
  • This was disclosed by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday (November 6).
  • Delivering a Statement on the spate of violent attacks against women and children, she pointed out that sexual harassment was not a simple matter, noting that it is a very serious crime that militates against the desired level of peace, harmony and happiness in the country.

The Government is finalising the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Bill, which will be brought to the House of Representatives shortly.

This was disclosed by Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, during the sitting of the House of Representatives on Tuesday (November 6).

Delivering a Statement on the spate of violent attacks against women and children, she pointed out that sexual harassment was not a simple matter, noting that it is a very serious crime that militates against the desired level of peace, harmony and happiness in the country.

“I look forward to our debate in this House and us providing protection to all women and men from unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favours and crude sexual behaviours that affect quality of life by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment,” Ms. Grange said.

She also informed that the Joint Select Committee of Parliament to review laws relating to violence against women, children, the elderly and persons living with disabilities was reconvened.

“We heard submissions from various quarters, and we have given earnest consideration to all the arguments. Our report and recommendations will be laid before this House [before the end of the month],” Ms. Grange said.

Meanwhile, the Minister said that the laws will only be a deterrent if people believe that they will be enforced. She reasoned that people who like to abuse women and children will think again if they know that they will be caught and punished.

Ms. Grange said that successful prosecutions will not only depend on investigators and the justice system, but will also depend on people taking a stand and using the mechanisms put in place to deal with the problem.

The Jamaica Constabulary Force statistics up to late October show that 38 children were the victims of violent deaths – 10 fewer than the corresponding time last year, or a 21 per cent decline.

The police report that 20 of the 38 cases have been cleared up – a clear-up rate of 53 per cent.

“In remaining true to our commitment to the care and protection of our children, the number of child abuse cases that have not been investigated decreased from 5,000 to 400. Critical to this is how we have removed the bureaucracy by the merger of the Child Development Agency and the Office of the Children’s Registry to create the Child Protection and Family Services Agency,” Ms. Grange pointed out.

In the meantime, the Minister emphasised that all Members of Parliament have a role to play in ending gender-based violence.

“We cannot remain silent. We cannot afford to look the other way. We have a duty as family, neighbour, friend and co-worker to intervene, to call in the authorities, to give evidence in the court and to help make Jamaica a land of peace, love and harmony,” Ms. Grange said.