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Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Portia Simpson Miller, says the Government is looking to pass legislation to protect the nation’s women and children against abuse.

Mrs. Simpson Miller said that she has asked Justice Minister, Senator Mark Golding, to look at legislation that will allow DNA evidence to be used , “so that when somebody rape, they can’t say is lie, cause the evidence will be there. The DNA will be there.”

The Prime Minister was addressing a forum at the Terra Nova Hotel on

November 23 in observance of ‘International Day For the Elimination of Violence Against women’.  The event was hosted by the Bureau of Women’s Affairs in collaboration with the Blossom O’Meally-Nelson Foundation and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), under the theme: ‘Sexual Violence and Domestic Abuse: a major barrier to women’s safety and empowerment’.

The Prime Minister noted however, that while the state is working on legislation, parents must also take responsibility for the care and protection of their children.

She recommended that the Bureau of Women’s Affairs collaborate with the Social Development Commission (SDC) and the Values and Attitude programme headed by Ambassador Burchell Whiteman, to have a series of community meetings with parents and guardians to discuss issues surrounding violence against women and children.

She promised full support for such an initiative, noting that once she was available she would attend the meetings. She also pointed out that it was everyone’s responsibility to join in the fight against the abuse of the nation’s women and children and noted that as women, “we can draw on the indomitable spirit of Nanny of the Maroons and save our children; it is not beyond us”.

The forum explored the relationship between the images in the public domain through art, music, advertising and the media, and the negative behaviour towards women and girls.

The presenters included Communication and Media Specialist, Dr. Marcia Forbes, who spoke on ‘Music and Media Shaping Behaviour’; Artist and Lecturer, Pat Ramsay, on ‘Art as an Expression of Sexuality; Psychologist Dr. J. Walcott, on ‘The Psychological Impact of Public Images’; and Lecturer at the Institute of Gender Studies at the University of the West Indies, Dr. Dalea Bean, spoke on the topic: ‘The shame of the past; the same for the future? A historical perspective on sexual violence against women’.

The forum also saw the Prime Minister presenting certificates to 50 women, men and organizations for making significant contributions to the fight against gender-based violence, and to the well being of women.