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JIS News

Country Coordinator for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), Miriam Maluwa, has said that the organisation’s US$100,000 education and training project, which targets deaf women, was progressing well.
“The project is doing extremely well. They’ve actually done further training of women in Mandeville, having conducted two workshops there. Last week, we had a workshop in Montego Bay and this coming week, one will be done in Ocho Rios,” she told JIS News.
The one-year Programme for Deaf Women in Jamaica, which commenced in September, is being implemented by the Jamaica Council for Persons with Disabilities (JCPD), which is an agency under the Ministry of Labour and Social Security.
It emerged out of a needs assessment, conducted by the JCPD, which found that deaf women and girls are exposed to high levels of rape, battery, incest and carnal abuse, which made them vulnerable to contracting the HIV.
The progamme therefore seeks to empower the targeted group by providing them with the necessary survival and self-defence strategies, and affordable economic skills such as floral arranging, which should lead to their independence, and, in the long term, serve to protect them from sexual abuse and its associated violence.
Mrs. Maluwa told JIS News that the programme, which was operating out of five parish centres in Kingston, Clarendon, Manchester, St. James and St. Ann, was providing an empowering voice for women, who were hearing impaired, as it was giving them access to “information that they had never accessed before”.
The UNAIDS Country Coordinator said that after witnessing the overwhelming response to the initiative, there were plans to widen its reach.
“We have seen a very clear call that deaf men are feeling left out and they have requested special programmes focused on them as well,” the UNAIDS Coordinator told JIS News, noting that Labour and Social Security Minister, Derrick Kellier, had also has expressed interest in expanding the programme.
In the meantime, she pointed out that the initiative had brought attention to another major social issue, which was employment bias against person with disabilities. She noted that this problem required “immediate attention”, adding that there were areas in the workplace that deaf people could contribute.
Mrs. Maluwa told JIS News that as it related to “the integration of deaf people within the broader community, there were a lot of psychosocial challenges, as well as just the lack of sensitisation that needs to happen about the needs of disabled persons, who really ought not to be treated differently”.
The final plank of the project will be a national workshop that will bring together all the groups that have been trained.