Gender-Based Violence in Jamaica: A Meeting and Recommendations

Attendees at the 51% Coalition Meeting of the Minds on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at the Jamaica Suite, Phoenix Central in Kingston, Jamaica. Present were media practitioners, politicians, popular music artistes, women’s and gender rights advocates and activists, as well as concerned citizens.

The following is a [modified] press release from the 51% Coalition on their talk on gender-based violence, held on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at the Jamaica Suite, Phoenix Central in Kingston, Jamaica. Persons concerned about, interested in or researching gender-based violence in Jamaica should find it useful.

“We must use the word ‘justice’ in every conversation!” declared 51% Coalition member Hilary Nicholson of WMW Jamaica during an energetic ‘Meeting of the Minds on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at the Jamaica Suite, Phoenix Central in Kingston, Jamaica.

Over 70 women and men were present and after over two hours of passionate discussion, they came up with some recommendations for curbing gender-based violence in Jamaica, including:

  • allocation of funds for a shelter for abused women in every parish by the end of 2017;
  • influencing the prime minister, as head of the Social Partnership, to “step up and lead” on the issue;
  • strengthened restorative justice and psychological support for victims;
  • working with youth (counseling and mentoring);
  • strengthened community policing and special training for police;
  • “targeted activism” in schools, communities and the workplace;
  • and using critical “touch points” such as health services for speedier interventions.

Moderated by Indi McLymont Lafayette, the meeting began with a minute’s silence for the victims and survivors of gender-based violence. Head of the Association of Women’s Organizations (AWOJA) Dr. Hermione McKenzie spoke on the dangers of trafficking in women and girls and Maria Carla Gullotta of Stand Up for Jamaica emphasized that sexual abuse is a key factor in so-called “uncontrollable” girls who find themselves in conflict with the law. Glenroy Murray of WE-Change spoke on the Sexual Offences Act, currently under review by a Parliamentary Committee. Patricia Donald Phillips brought a strong statement from women Church leaders.

Groups represented at the meeting included 51%Coalition member organizations WMW- Jamaica; Panos Caribbean; Institute of Gender & Development Studies/UWI; WE-Change; AWOJA; Women’s Resource and Outreach Centre and Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers; as well as Children First, Bureau of Gender Affairs, Kiwanis Club of New Kingston, The Positive Organization, the Women Entrepreneurs Network of the Caribbean, Jamaicans for Justice, Girl Guides’ Association, Women’s Centre Foundation, Jamaica Community of Positive Women, 1 Billion Rising-Ja, Her Flow, Mothers of Jamaica, Great People Solutions, YWCA  Stand Up for Jamaica and the National Family Planning Board.

One of the groups deep in discussion during the breakout session at the 51% Coalition’s ‘Meeting of the Minds’ on Tuesday, February 7, 2017 at the Jamaica Suite, Phoenix Central in Kingston, Jamaica, to discuss ways to curb gender-based violence in Jamaica.