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JIS News

The National Youth Service (NYS) has launched a media sensitization campaign gender-based violence, to turn national attention to the problem and to ultimately, change behaviour.
The campaign, which was rolled-out at a JIS Think Tank session on March 22, targets young people between the ages of 17 and 24, and will span a period of two to three months.
Executive Director of the NYS, Rev. Adinhair Jones, told JIS News that the campaign is the third component of a larger gender sensitivity project implemented by the NYS and sponsored by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to the tune of $3.6 million.
As part of the project, the NYS adjusted the curriculum of its training programmes to include issues related to gender relations in society. “We [also] had a national programme where we went to a number of communities throughout the island and engaged 1,300 young people in workshops on gender sensitivity,” Rev. Jones informed.
The campaign will involve the delivery of gender-related messages through advertisements on radio and television, the production of a music video and a billboard on wheels.
The strategies will highlight the historical issues in which gender-based violence is embedded, as well as its cause and effects. It is hoped that the approach will stimulate conversation among young people and others, while exposing them to socially healthy alternative behaviour and possible solutions to the problem.
At the end of the campaign, the NYS will be carrying out surveys to determine the extent of its reach as well as its impact.
“Gender-based violence, which is defined as any kind of act that causes harm, whether physical or psychological to another person, and results from a particular understanding of self in relation to members of the opposite sex, is surrounded by a lot of silence and denial,” said. Rev. Jones.
“It is not something that people speak about readily,” he said, “and my suspicion is that it is not something that people recognize.” He attributed this to a limited exposure to the tools and information that would enable people to understand and analyse what was happening.
Noting that the problem was not confined to Jamaica, Rev. Jones pointed out that one in five women worldwide have experienced gender-based violence, including physical violence. Additionally, he revealed that one in five women were victims of rape or attempted rape, while one in every three had experienced physical abuse and other kinds of abuse. And, while women were the main victims, Rev. Jones indicated that men also suffered at the hands of women.
Lifelong mental health issues, as well as problems of co-dependency and poor socialization, were some of the spin-offs of gender-based violence, Rev. Jones explained, adding, “we can’t ignore the intergenerational impact that [it also] has”.
Pointing out that domestic violence was the greatest expression of gender-based violence, Rev. Jones pointed out, “in our own Jamaican context, domestic violence accounts for almost 50 per cent of the homicides committed in the country.” He said this demonstrated that, “people who are well known to each other or have some form of relationship, are unable to resolve their conflicts appropriately and therefore end up in murder or some serious bodily or emotional harm.”
The situation is more serious, he noted, “when we are not speaking about it and putting in place the kind of facilities and programmes to begin to assist persons to come to terms with it”.
With respect to the pervasive nature of the problem, Rev. Jones established that the purpose of the NYS in carrying out this initiative, was to open up discussions and lay the groundwork for more comprehensive national programmes, to curb incidents of gender-based violence.
Rev. Jones advised that effective responses to the problem “will have to utilize a multifaceted approach engaging all of the agencies that have contact, especially with women,” including health centres, hospitals, and schools.
With 60 per cent of the population of Jamaica falling below 30 years old, the NYS finds it appropriate to reach the youth population with its message of healthy alternative behaviour to violence.
The intent of the NYS is that the sensitization campaign “will stimulate major discussion within homes, but also within the corridors of power in Jamaica, where people have the capacity to make important social development decisions,” stated Rev. Jones.