JIS News

Development Minister, Dr. Paul Robertson, has said that the government was seeking to strengthen and implement appropriate legislation to reduce and eliminate gender-based violence.
Dr. Robertson, who was speaking at a public forum entitled: ‘Educating Minds to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence’ yesterday (Nov. 25) at Emancipation Park in Kingston, said that chief among the government’s strategies was the recent ratification of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women (Belem do Para).
“The ratification of this instrument speaks to the government’s commitment to the fight against violence against women”, the Development Minister said, while also citing the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Violence Against Women (CEDAW), which Jamaica has also sanctioned.
The public forum was organised by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs as part of activities to mark International Day Against Violence Against Women. Turning to the growing global phenomena of trafficking in women and girls, the Development Minister noted that, “although there is no substantial data to demonstrate the magnitude of this problem in our country, the government is taking the necessary steps to ensure that our young women especially, do not become victims to this modern day slavery-like condition”.
To this end, he explained that a multi-sectoral task force has been established to look into the situation locally and a plan of action drafted.
A public forum on human trafficking was also held in August, which saw participation from government agencies, the International Organisation for Migration, the United States Embassy, special interest groups, as well as the general public.
In his remarks at yesterday’s forum, Representative of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Bertrand Bainvel, emphasised that “gender inequality and gender-based violence undermine women’s health and contribute to marginalisation and neglect of unwanted children”.
Citing statistics, Mr. Bainvel said that up to September of this year, there were some 835 reported cases of sexual crimes against Jamaican women and girls. Of the number, 557 involved girls, with 291 being raped, 258 were carnally abused, and eight were victims of incest.
“These figures do not include the high proportion of forced sex in sexual initiation.20 per cent of births are given by women under 19, which means for every five children born in Jamaica, one is born from a child or woman, who has just stepped out of childhood,” he said.
As it relates to HIV/AIDS, Mr. Bainvel said that among the interventions that need to be included as part of the overall campaign against the disease, was the empowerment of women and girls through the provision of appropriate life skills, economic and social opportunities, and caring for boys to help them understand and control the “construction of their masculinity”.