Sexual Harassment Bill to be Tabled in Parliament Within Weeks – Grange

Photo: Michael Sloley Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Hon. Olivia Grange (2nd right) goes through a copy of the Jamaica Women’s Health Survey Report following the launch at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel on June 21. Others (from left) are Senior Director for the Social Policy, Planning and Research Division, Planning Institute of Jamaica, Easton Williams; Regional Director, Americas and the Caribbean, United Nations Women, Luiza Carvalho; Modernisation of the State Specialist, Inter-American Development Bank, Camila Mejia Giraldo; and Chief Technical Director, Ministry of National Security, Rohan Richards.

Story Highlights

  • Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, says the Sexual Harassment Bill will be tabled in Parliament shortly.
  • “It is now at the Chief Parliamentary Counsel… . It will be fast-tracked in a matter of days to the Legislation Committee of Cabinet, and in a matter of weeks will be on the table at Parliament,” Ms. Grange said.
  • The Bill seeks to protect all women and men from unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and crude sexual behaviours that affect quality of life by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, says the Sexual Harassment Bill will be tabled in Parliament shortly.

“It is now at the Chief Parliamentary Counsel… . It will be fast-tracked in a matter of days to the Legislation Committee of Cabinet, and in a matter of weeks will be on the table at Parliament,” Ms. Grange said.

She was speaking at the launch of the Jamaica Women’s Health Survey Report at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel on June 21.

The Bill seeks to protect all women and men from unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, and crude sexual behaviours that affect quality of life by creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment.

The Women’s Health Survey, the first of its kind in CARICOM, was conducted in Jamaica in 2016.

It provides data on the national prevalence of violence against women and will support the country’s global commitments to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as well as implementation of the National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Gender-based Violence.

Speaking on the findings, Ms. Grange said anecdotal evidence has always suggested that Jamaica has a serious problem with gender-based violence.

She noted that the findings, which are based on interviews with women across the length and breadth of the island, give insight “as we’ve never had before about the extent of the problem”.

“According to the survey findings, one in every four women in this country between the ages of 15 and 64 years will experience violence by their intimate partner and/or some kind of sexual violence in their lifetime. One of out of every four women will experience sexual violence by someone who is not their intimate partner,” Ms. Grange said.

She noted that while every woman, regardless of age, social status, political affiliation, education and career, is susceptible to violence, the survey findings show that the least-educated women, those who are pregnant and those who have been cohabiting with male partners since they were minors, are at greater risk of being victims.

The survey also showed a generational link related to acts of violence. It indicates that men, who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence, are more likely to abuse their own partners than sons of non-violent parents.

In addition, the report noted that the child of an abused woman is more likely to drop out of school at an early age and/or become an abuser, and that women who were exposed to violence during childhood, are more likely to experience domestic violence in adulthood.

The survey further pointed to the link between drug use (including alcohol) and domestic violence.

“The findings also show up the culture of silence in Jamaica when it comes to gender-based violence. Two out of every three women who are victims of domestic violence do not seek professional help, unless the cases are severe. A great majority of victims (81.6 per cent) say they reported the violence to a friend, family member, and/or a neighbour,” Ms. Grange said.

She indicated that the findings of this Women’s Health Survey will be used to bolster implementation of the National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence in Jamaica.

The 10-year plan outlines actions to prevent gender violence, improve services for victims and strengthen implementation of laws to deal with perpetrators.

Ms. Grange said that the data will inform the development of social policy, empowerment programmes and developmental projects towards the achievement of gender equality.

The Women’s Health Survey 2016 is a co-publication of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, Inter-American Development Bank and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.

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