JIS News

Jamaica must continue to work aggressively to put strategies and policies in place to effectively address all forms of gender-based violence and abuse. Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sports, the Hon. Olivia Grange firmly expressed this view in her address at a stakeholder’s dialogue on gender -based violence, which was hosted by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs in collaboration with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), at the Terra Nova Hotel on (Nov. 28). The forum was held as part of the observance of International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. Miss Grange pointed out that police statistics on reported cases of sexual offences reveal that for 2006 there were 707 cases of rape, 433 cases of carnal abuse, 149 cases of indecent assault, and 28 cases of incest.
The government is pursuing a number of initiatives to bring down these disturbing figures, and afford greater protection to women and girls, the Minister said.
“These include new and amended legislation such as the Domestic Violence Act, the Incest (punishment) Act and the Offences against the Person Act, which have all been revised to more adequately address the contemporary needs of our women and girls,” she informed.
Miss Grange noted that the Incest (punishment) Act and the section of the Offences Against the Person Act that relates to rape and other areas of sexual violence had enjoyed wide discussions at the joint select committee of Parliament throughout the year, where it was proposed to combine all issues relating to sexual abuse under one sexual offences bill. She further highlighted the fact that a sexual harassment policy has also been developed and will pave the way for drafting of legislation to protect our women from sexual harassment in the workplace and other institutions.
Meanwhile, Minister Grange said the National Gender Policy will also seek to address all the various elements of gender based violence through a multi-sectoral approach.
Emphasizing that she is aware of the serious displacement, homelessness and hopelessness that women who face domestic crises often suffer Miss Grange assured that in the coming year, she will be working with the Bureau of Women’s Affairs and other stakeholders to create a shelter strategy, which will make the provision of at least three shelters throughout the island a reality.
“The establishment of shelters and half way houses is critical to providing the adequate protection and support so greatly needed for our battered women and girls,” she stated.
The Minister said that while much progress has been made, challenges still persist, which hinder the effectiveness of the work being done by the Bureau women’s non-governmental organizations and other agencies. “But let us continue to work diligently to improving the cause and the lot of women who experience such discrimination and violence against their persons,” she urged.
Miss Grange also stressed the importance of men’s contribution to the effort to tackle gender-based violence, stating that their input is vital as no programme or plan can be as effective without their participation in the process. “So we invite our men to be partners with us and help us to break the silence and the cycle of violence,” she said.
Every year, November 25 is observed globally as World International Day for the elimination of violence against women.

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