International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW) is observed annually on November 25th. The accompanying 16 days of activism against Gender-Based Violence began on November 25th and will continue through December 10th.
By way of the Bureau of Gender Affairs, the Government of Jamaica has reaffirmed its commitment to defending the rights of women and girls to live free from violence.
Creating Safer Spaces for Women & Girls
Various stakeholders participated in a Banner Event at the Knutsford Court Hotel on November 25th in observance of IDEVAW. The Bureau of Gender Affairs hosted a Public Forum during the event. Key stakeholders made presentations, including donor organizations, namely, the European Union, UN Women and UN Population Fund. The Hon. Alando Terrelonge, Minister of State, gave a passionate welcome, signalling the day’s proceedings.
During the event, the Hon. Olivia Grange announced several strategies under this year’s theme, ‘Creating Safer Spaces for Women and Girls. In this regard, the Minister spoke about opening Jamaica’s first national shelter for women and girls, victims of domestic violence. Secondly, she announced that the second shelter is on track for opening by January 2022. The plan for three regional shelters form part of the National Strategic Action Plan for Gender Equality, and advanced work is underway for their completion.
Moreover, the Ministry of Labour & Social Services will provide psycho-social support services to survivors of gender violence. The Minister also announced a soon-to-be new partnership between the BGA and the HEART TRUST/NSTA. Through their training program, the women will learn new skills as long as they are in the shelter. Furthermore, children also housed at the shelter are engaged in school within the residential dwelling. Minister Grange shared that some women have since successfully transitioned into new independent living situations, which would not require them to return to their abusive environment.
The Importance of Stategic Linkages
The Principal Director for Gender Affair, Mrs Sharon Coburn Robinson, shared some of the guiding strategies contained in the National Policy for Gender Equality. The policy also engages perpetrators towards achieving rehabilitation under their refocussed program. It also recognizes the witnesses, who often are children. Children suffer trauma from witnessing the perpetration of gender violence in their homes and community. Regardless of the category that individuals fall into, the BGA is the entity that has national responsibility for providing support to all the related parties. Mrs Coburn Robinson emphasized the importance of creating linkages and partnerships with other entities to provide complementary support services. The associations are essential to leveraging in fostering the work of the Bureau. Notably, some partners include the Jamaica Constabulary Force by way of their I-Care Programme.
The European Union & United Nations Country team, through their Spotlight Initiative, in effect has become the most extensive support programme and partner for GBV activities under the Bureau of Gender Affairs.
A Protocol for Complaints and Response to Violence
Equally important were the highlights from Mrs Coburn Robinson of the Complaints and Response Protocol. The protocol supports the BGAs ability to roll out the activities contained in the National Strategic Action Plan [NSAP]. The achievement of the NSAP strategies is only possible with the support of their partners. Mrs Coburn Robinson gives some highlights of the NSAP in the voice clip below.
Dr Tamika Peart, Director National Shelter, accompanied by Rev. Courtney Morrison and Janelle Robinson, Clinical Psychologist, led a panel discussion. The discussion facilitated robust conversations on the operation of the National Shelter, the role of men in eliminating GBV and the emotional impact of abuse on the victims.
The public is urged to call the emergency support number 876-553-0732 to access help for women experiencing domestic violence.