KINGSTON — Reports have indicated that 668 women were raped and 531 suffered from carnal abuse in Jamaica, in 2010.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Hon Olivia "Babsy" Grange, revealed the figures while addressing Parliamentarians from across the Caribbean, Academics and United Nations representatives at the Caribbean Regional Consultation of Parliamentarians on gender-based violence prevention on Wednesday (November 9) at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
The two-day meeting, spearheaded by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Caribbean office, in collaboration with UN partners, is one of a number of regional and national events resulting from the official launch of the UNITE to End Violence Against Women Campaign in October 2010. In 2008, the UN Secretary-General launched the Campaign with the overall objective of raising public awareness and increasing political will and resources for preventing and responding to violence against women and girls.
"The unreported cases would surely increase the figures, dramatically. These cases and the unreported ones have placed an added burden on a health care system that is already struggling to deal with unpreventable health issues," Miss Grange said.
She pointed to a number of national laws that address the issue of gender-based violence, such as the Domestic Violence Act, the Trafficking in Persons Act and the Sexual Offences Act, and said that several public education sessions have been conducted to enhance public awareness of these laws.
Additionally, Miss Grange said the Bureau of Women's Affairs (BWA), a department of her Ministry, has been utilizing various mechanisms, including public education and awareness-building to gender equality, including the elimination of gender-based violence.
In this regard, Minister Grange said the BWA is currently finalizing a draft National Strategic Plan to eliminate gender based violence in Jamaica. The plan was developed under the implementation of the Strengthening State Accountability Project, which was funded by UNWomen, formerly known as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM).
She stated that other Caribbean countries, including Antigua, Belize and St Kitts, are part of the project, which seeks to highlights six priority areas to address the problem.
"The plan is intended, in a practical way, to raise awareness concerning gender-based violence and provide guidance to develop and implement programmes and strategies to tackle this problem in a coordinated holistic fashion," she added.
According to the Minister, the main objectives are: to illuminate and bring to the attention of the public the extent of the problem of gender-based violence in Jamaica; and to prevent and protect victims of gender-based violence and identify ways to aid those who have become victims.
Discussions on day one of the meeting focused on various aspects of gender-based violence in the Caribbean, and capacity building among the judiciary and other outcomes of the UNITE Campaign launch. The second day will highlight ways in which parliamentarians can help mobilize political will to end gender-based violence.
By E. Hartman Reckord