Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, says that work continues towards the opening of two shelters for victims of gender-based violence, during the current financial year.
She was making her contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives on June 8.
The establishment of national shelters for women who need help to leave violent relationships has been one of the priority programmes of the Ministry. The first facility was opened in the last financial year.
Ms. Grange said the Ministry is also improving helpline services for women and men who need assistance.
She said that a toll-free number was received from Flow recently and helpline specialists have been recruited to ensure that the lines will be manned 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“We do not only respond to domestic abuse after it’s already happened. We focus on prevention through our sensitisation programmes that target both women and men, including the #MentorMe2020 Mentorship Programme for school-age boys, which is being piloted at Haile Selassie High and St. Andrew Technical High,” Ms. Grange informed.
She said that this year, the Ministry will also strengthen the Refocus Intervention programme that targets perpetrators of domestic violence who wish to change their behaviour.
In addition, through the Women’s Entrepreneurship Support Project, 10 grants will be provided to vulnerable women to start or build businesses and achieve their independence.
“I thank UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) and the Ministry of Industry, Investment and Commerce for their partnership in this important intervention. I look forward to their continued support as we enable other women to achieve their independence,” Ms. Grange said.
“No woman should have to be totally dependent on any man. I repeat my call for all of us – family, friends, neighbours, the community, the church, co-workers – to be more vigilant and supportive of women in situations of abuse. Our intervention can make the difference between life and death. Our silence protects only the perpetrator,” she pointed out.
Meanwhile, Minister Grange said that through the Social Housing Programme, a five-bedroom dwelling has been constructed for the St. Elizabeth family that came to national attention following a case of child sexual abuse.
“The family was living in really desperate circumstances. We provided temporary housing as we worked to provide a permanent solution,” she said.
She said the keys to the house will be provided to the family by Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness.
The Social Housing Programme was developed to improve the housing condition of the country’s poor and disadvantaged population by providing quality affordable and sustainable housing.