JIS News

Minister of Information, Culture, Youth and Sport, Olivia Grange, has called on women to break the silence surrounding incest and carnal abuse, which plague both girls and boys in the society.
She noted that the men, who commit these crimes “are effectively linked to us women as spouses, sons, brothers, uncles and relatives and as women in the society, if we are going to genuinely break the cycle, we must stop covering up and protecting and lying on their behalf.”
“Break the relentless progress of this deadly malady that is sapping the usefulness of our young and also snuffing out their lives, and is spilling over to the detriment of the women, children and senior citizens in our society,” the Minister appealed as she addressed a public forum on ‘The Role of the Women in Breaking the Cycle of Gender-based Violence in the Jamaican Society’ recently, at the Terra Nova Hotel in Kingston.
Speaking at the event, which was organized by the Council for Voluntary Social Services (CVSS) in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), the Information Minister decried the high incidence of gender-based violence and abuses in the society and said that an aggressive strategy must be put in place to deal with the issue. Citing police figures for 2006, which indicated that there were 707 reported cases of rape, 433 cases of carnal abuse and 149 cases of indecent assault, the Minister said the figures are “far too high”.According to Mrs. Grange, in dealing with the problem, several issues must be addressed, including “changing the entrenched cultural myths and stereotypes in terms of what it means to be a man or what it means to be a woman in this society.”
In addition, she said it is necessary to look critically at the type of values and attitudes that parents pass on to children, especially as it relates to sexuality.
She further pointed to the need to support, in a highly confidential manner, women and girls, who have experienced domestic abuse and sexual violence, as some of the victims of sexual abuse also face the risk of contracting the deadly HIV virus. “We need to diligently lobby for changes and amendments to policies and legislation that do not reflect contemporary reality and do not offer the protection and access to justice that our women so need,” she stated.
PAHO Representative, Dr. Jean Marie Rwangabwoba, in his remarks, stated that the silence surrounding the issue of gender-based violence must be broken through the creation of a legislative environment, which encourages victims to speak freely about and report incidents of violence without fear of retribution.
“Women and girls must be empowered to effectively deal with the causes and consequences of gender-based violence through the development of well researched counselling and rehabilitative services,” he said.
Dr. Rwangabwoba noted further that it is imperative to create special programmes for males to discuss issues of violence in order for the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
Some 120 persons from non-governmental, community and faith-based organizations, the private and public sectors, tertiary institutions, and the justice system, attended the forum. Participants came from as far as the Bahamas and Barbados.

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