International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women has been observed every year since 1981 on November 25. This is a very significant day because it begins the 16 Days of Activism to end Violence against Women and is observed globally. It is a reminder that women want a world with equal opportunities and rights, free from sexual violence and domestic abuse and a world that is secure and safe for all.
The 16 Days of Campaign on Gender-Based Violence November 25 to December 10 includes the observance of World AIDS Day on December 1 and International Human Rights Day on December 10. The initiatives organized at this times will serve to educate the public and raise awareness about varying aspects of Gender- Based Violence, sexual abuse, and links to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), issues relating to child abuse, trafficking in persons and human rights issues.
The Government of Jamaica recognizes all forms of violence especially against women as a contributing factor to women’s inability to enjoy their full human rights and to contribute effectively to the country’s development.
Over the past months we have heard some gruesome stories and viewed some graphic scenes of violence perpetrated towards our women and girls. Let me state categorically that Violence Against Women is unacceptable. I am saddened because these crimes too often are sustained by a culture of silence and denial. We, the women of Jamaica and our men must fight to break the culture of violence against our women and children.
Many countries including Jamaica signed several human rights treaties that have defined violence against women and girls as a human rights violation. Jamaica in acknowledgement of our commitment to these Conventions has reformed a number of national laws and facilitated policies to address issues of Gender Based Violence. Some of the most recent discussions on amendments to legislation include the Incest (Punishment) Act and the Offences Against the Persons Act to form one Sexual Offences Act. In addition, the Child Pornographic Prevention Bill is currently being drafted to criminalize production, possession and distribution of child pornography.
Today, let us remind each other of our National Pledge which states “.to stand up for justice, brotherhood and peace…”
Today I appeal to all of us to make a concerted effort to stand up for justice, brotherhood, sisterhood and peace.
Let us continue to work together towards being a part of the solution to end violence against our women and girls. In so doing we will play our part in advancing the status of our women and girls.
I thank you!

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