- Amendments to three gender related acts under consideration.
- Senator Falconer explained that the review involved a wide cross section of stakeholders.
- The revised draft plan will be finalised within another three to four months.
The Government has undertaken a review of the draft National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence in Jamaica.
This was disclosed by Minister with responsibility for Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer in the Senate on Friday, September 27.
She was making her contribution on a motion brought by Opposition Senator Kamina Johnson Smith, for the establishment of a Joint Select Committee to consider and recommend amendments to the Offences against the Persons Act, the Sexual Offences Act and the Childcare and Protection Act.
The motion, among other things, called for redefining or augmenting as appropriate, offences and punishments to be applied for the murder of pregnant women, and assaults, sexual offences, and other violent crimes against women, children and the elderly.
Senator Falconer explained that the review involved a wide cross section of stakeholders from 19 agencies including representatives of women’s organisations.
“The review brought out certain weaknesses including the need for a more comprehensive and targeted approach in order to address and prevent gender-based violence,” she said.
She noted that there were concerns expressed about the lack of a timeframe to guide the implementation and the monitoring of the action plan.
“United Nations (UN) Women has graciously offered us technical support for redrafting and fine tuning the action plan and I wish to publicly express our thanks to UN Women for its assistance,” Ms. Falconer said.
She said it is expected that the revised draft plan will be finalised within another three to four months.
Meanwhile, Senator Falconer said that effective legislation is important in dealing with issues regarding gender violence, and the promulgation of new laws and amendments, remain a priority of the government.
“Some, which have recently been done, include the Offences Against the Persons Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Cyber Crimes Act, the Child Pornography Act and the Evidence Special Measures Act,” she stated.
“But I agree with Senator Johnson Smith that some of the fines and sentences for offences such as assault especially for aggravated assault must be increased. Your outrage Senator, at the imposition of short sentences for heinous crimes especially those against our children is shared by all of us,” she stated.
Senator Falconer also informed that work is also being done on an anti-sexual harassment legislation.
“Under this proposed legislation, I believe the issue of stalking could be addressed. Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, has been proactive and the issue of marital rape is also being looked at,” she stated.
She noted that legislation alone will not solve the problem of violence and abuse, while adding that a more determined effort must be made to promote a culture of tolerance and respect for each other within an outside of the family.