Reports have indicated that 668 women were raped and 531 suffered from carnal abuse in Jamaica in 2010.
Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, revealed the figures while addressing parliamentarians from across the Caribbean, academics, and United Nations representatives at the Caribbean Regional Consultation of Parliamentarians on gender-based violence prevention on Wednesday at the Terra Nova All Suite Hotel in Kingston.
The two-day meeting, spearheaded by the United Nations Population Fund Caribbean office, in collaboration with UN partners, is one of a number of regional and national events resulting from the official launch of the ‘UNITE to End Violence Against Women’ campaign in October 2010. In 2008, the UN secretary general launched the campaign with the overall objective of raising public awareness and increasing political will and resources for preventing and responding to violence against women and girls.
“The unreported cases would surely increase the figures dramatically. These cases and the unreported ones have placed an added burden on a health-care system that is already struggling to deal with unpreventable health issues,” Grange said.
She pointed to a number of national laws that address the issue of gender-based violence such as the Domestic Violence Act, the Trafficking in Persons Act, and the Sexual Offences Act, and said that several public- education sessions had been conducted to enhance public awareness of these laws.
Additionally, Grange said the Bureau of Women’s Affairs (BWA), a department of her ministry, had been utilising various mechanisms, including public education and awareness building to gender equality.
In this regard, Grange said the BWA was currently finalising a draft national strategic plan to eliminate gender-based violence in Jamaica. The plan was developed under the implementation of the Strengthening State Accountability Project, which was funded by UNWomen, formerly known as the United Nations Development Fund for Women.
She stated that other Caribbean countries, including Antigua, Belize, and St Kitts, are part of the project, which seeks to highlight six priority areas to address the problem.
According to the minister, the main objectives are to illuminate and bring to the attention of the public the extent of the problem of gender-based violence in Jamaica, to prevent and protect victims of gender-based violence, and to identify ways to aid those who have become victims.
Discussions on day one of the meeting focused on various aspects of gender-based violence in the Caribbean, and capacity building among the judiciary and other outcomes of the UNITE campaign launch. The second day highlighted ways in which parliamentarians could help mobilise political will to end gender-based violence.
In as far as corrective rape is concerned for this last based on previous reports that have reached myself and allies we had four cases and a case that was a carry over from 2009 was ended with the mastermind behind a rape ring in St. Catherine sentenced for 29 years for a series of other incidents. Corrective rape has been making a sharp increase since late 2007 with break ins on suspected lesbians and robbery at gunpoint with the victim severely beaten after while her more masculine partner was forced to watch the ordeal unfold. That matter is still in the courts I am told and the personnel at CISOCA – THE Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse are aware of the series of incidents, they were especially caring for the St. Catherine matter as the ring led to a popular LGBT social networking site at the time, the trail led to a house near the Linstead area and computers and other equipment were seized, a female was also held as she was as it turned out the instigator in trapping the other female victims.
It is refreshing in a sense to know that the systems in place in some sections of the CISOCA network have been enlightened and are working with the same gender loving victims of the awful scourge to some normalcy. What is required now is a national strengthening of the CISOCA arm to be courteous to victims elsewhere who are same gender attracted. It is unimaginable however that with almost a ratio of four women to one Jamaican man that men find it necessary to rape women with all the bravado in the world while at it and gang rapings seem to be getting extremely popular in the crime. The 17 year old bisexual sister who was brutally abused by 8 men earlier this year in eastern Jamaica is a case in point, her mother has since had her relocated as threats have been messaged to the home of the sister that she must not speak of the incident or report it. The police I was told is looking into it as it is also surmised that a ring exists in the community as well.
This notion that one can rape away the lesbian traits of a woman in ridiculous and is a huge problem in parts of Africa where it is highly regarded by some males. Our advocacy has been playing step and fetch it with this issue hardly any serious concerns have been shown by the mostly male dominated representative structure who seem aloof to these women issues, the smaller arm of JFLAG Jamaica For Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays, WFW Women for Women is strapped for resources and since the departure of two very powerful voices to greener pastures and the Crisis Interventions Officer of JFLAG to Amsterdam not much has come out of the structures on the issue. This particular meeting at the Terra Nova we had no LGBT representative I was told.
Peace and tolerance