Each year on this date we recommit as individuals and as a country to take steps to eliminate violence against women. It is a serious problem that affects many women in our country and can affect any woman wherever she is — at home, at school, on the street, in public transport, in the club and in her place of worship.
We now know from the results of the Women’s Health Survey:
- That one in every four women in Jamaica has been either slapped, beaten with fists, pushed, kicked, attacked with a weapon or threatened with a weapon by her male partner.
- That a quarter of women in Jamaica have been sexually abused by men who are not their intimate partners.
- That the majority of men who sexually abuse women were ‘friends’ or acquaintances.
- That one out of every five women reported being sexually abused before reaching 18 years old and the person who did it was a family member or friend.
Those findings and the numerous reports of heartless, callous, horrific and brutal attacks against women over the last year should concern each of us to do something about it. There is no excuse for inaction.
My government has been working to bring an end to violence through legislative, policy and programmatic actions that protect victims of violence, see to it that perpetrators are punished, ensure that the victims get redress, and very importantly build a culture in which there is no gender-based violence.
Despite progress, violence against women is still widespread. Despite an increase in reports to the authorities about gender-based violence, and an increase in interventions by neighbours, friends and family to end abuse, too many people are still looking the other way.
Today we launch the No Excuse For Abuse public education campaign as part of our effort to end the violence. This is not another campaign to sensitise people about the horrific effects of violence against women. This campaign is about behaviour change and destroying the conditions that enable, condone, ignore and treat violence against women as a normal part of life.
Violence against women is not inevitable. Violence against women is not an expression of love. Violence against women does not show that you are a man, in fact it proves that you are not a man.
On this commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, I urge all of us to make a commitment to do something about the violence. We can end the violence. It requires all of us to end the violence. There is No Excuse for Abuse.
Olivia Grange, CD, MP
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport