JIS News

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), has commended the efforts and commitment of the Jamaican Government, to address the issue of violence against women.
“UNFPA acknowledges the Government of Jamaica for the positive steps taken in this regard. These include the passage of the Domestic Violence Amendment Act, the draft Sexual Harassment Policy, development of the National Gender Policy, the Maintenance Act, and an Act to Amend the Offences Against the Person Act, to make sexual offences more gender sensitive, and the Child Care and Protection Bill, to name a few,” Assistant Representative at the UNFPA, Melissa McNeil Barrett said.
She was speaking on behalf of Director for the UNFPA’s Sub-regional Office for the Caribbean, Harold Robinson, at a function to mark International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW) on November 25 at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston.
According to Mrs. Robinson “violence against women is the most prevalent and least punished crime in the world. It is also a grave threat to health and well-being. Together with the global financial crisis and climate change, it constitutes a major challenge of our time. If we are serious about ensuring a just society, where each individual may enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity, we have a moral obligation to end this violation of the rights of women.”
She noted that despite the moves to implement laws, one must be cognisant of the power and influence of cultural beliefs, which can stymie their success.
“We are all aware that cultural beliefs are sometimes stronger than laws. We have seen it in our work, where despite laws that seek to end domestic violence, it is perpetuated by cultural and social norms and traditions that reinforce male dominance. From infancy, women are taught that they are to submit to men, even to the extreme of sometimes blaming themselves for the violence inflicted upon them,” Mrs. Barrett lamented.
The Assistant Representative further pointed out that as wives or partners, women “have been led to believe that they must hold the family together at any cost, so they silently endure being battered and abused. Women and society learn to turn a blind eye to, or accept gender-based violence. Under these circumstances, this crime becomes naturalised and invisible. This widespread impunity not only encourages further abuse and suffering, it also sends the signal that male violence against women is acceptable or normal”.
Mrs. Barrett bemoaned the fact that “young boys and men are often socialised in ways that make them aggressive and often violent” and this was one of the main reasons why “they are both the main perpetrators of violence, including violence against women, and victims of violent crime”.
“We will never put a stop to violence against women until men are made partners and both girls and boys, are raised in a culture of mutual respect and responsibility, and equal opportunity,” she stated.

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