Jamaica Government To Establish Three State-Run Shelters For Victims Of Gender-Based Violence

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Grange (2nd left) shares a moment with other officials as well as students from Jamaica College at the Stand up, Talk up Public Forum. (Photo credit: JIS)

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday December 2, 2019 – Government is in the process of establishing three state-run shelters for victims of gender-based violence.

The Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport has already completed the purchase of one property to serve as a national shelter. And Minister Olivia Grange said the government is now finalizing the process to acquire the two other properties.

“So we will have a shelter in the east, a shelter in the west and a shelter mid-island, so wherever the need is, we will be able to provide support for women in abusive situations,” she said, adding that the shelters will be operationalized next year.

“The Government of Jamaica is providing a refuge from real and pending danger to our women and our children and we are providing a suitable way out for these victims through counselling, and other types of intervention.”

However, the Minister said the shelter initiative requires the support of all and not just the Government.

“This national shelter programme presents a perfect opportunity for us to use corporate social responsibility and public partnership as a means of protecting human rights and well-being,” she said.

“Therefore, I am asking our multilateral partners, civil society organisations, non-government organisations and members of the private sector to join us in this carefully executed but anticipated and intentional decision to respond to a complex social, economic and cultural problem in an ongoing and holistic way.”

Minister Grange said the United Nations describes gender based violence against women and girls as one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human violations in the world today.

“It continues to be a major obstacle to the fulfilment of women’s and girls’ human rights, and it occurs worldwide. It cuts across all generations, nationalities, communities and spheres of our societies, irrespective of age, ethnicity, disability, or any other background,” she said.

Grange also cited statistics from Jamaica’s Women Health 2016 Survey which reports that one in every four women has been slapped, beaten with a fist, or pushed.

The survey also showed that a quarter of women in Jamaica have been sexually abused by men who are not their intimate partners; that the majority of men who sexual abused women were either friends or acquaintances; and that one out of every five women reported being sexually abused before reaching 18 by a family member or a friend.

“The Woman’s Health Survey has shown us that when women are leaving violent relationships, it is a constant process as they attempt to leave many times, but they’re not able to,” the Minster said.

“What is even more alarming is that the data highlighted that some women in Jamaica believe that some types of violence against women can be justified, they think it is tough love, him love me so him beat me,” she added, pointing to the urgent need to “sensitise our citizens and protect our women and girls.”

Minister Grange was speaking at the Stand up, Talk up Public Forum which was held in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW) which was observed on November 25. It is a part of 16 days of activism against gender based- violence which will end on December 10.

Grange said the observance of IDEVAW creates awareness on all forms of violence against women and girls and its impact on the country’s socio- economic development.

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