Tue | Jan 19, 2021

Women of Distinction | Grange makes good on promise of first national women’s shelter

Published:Thursday | December 24, 2020 | 3:29 PM
Minister of Culture, Gender Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange (right), and Canadian High Commissioner, Her Excellency Laurie Peters, inspect one of the rooms that make up the first State-run shelter for women affected by domestic violence.

The Government of Jamaica made a massive statement in the fight to protect victims of domestic abuse with veteran parliamentarian Minister of Culture, Gender Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, making good on an important promise recently.

“The place is nice and clean and ready, except for one and two things,” said Grange, recently after examining a facility that will serve as the first state-run shelter for victims of domestic abuse.

The establishment of national shelters for women who need help to leave violent relationships has been one of the priority programmes of the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport.

The Ministry purchased the property — whose location cannot be revealed for security purposes — in 2018 and has undertaken significant work to transform it into a facility to house women who are victims of gender-based violence and their children.

“We’re fine-tuning some protocols in terms of the operation — just to cross the ‘Ts’ and dot the ‘Is’. In the meantime, we’re ready; we can take in — I would call them clients — and take care of a family. We actually have most of the rooms ready. There are just two unfurnished rooms,” she said.

The Ministry has also purchased two other properties which it will also transform into shelters for victims of abuse.

Minister Grange said the establishment of the shelters could not have been achieved without the assistance of international partners.

“The former EU Ambassador [Her Excellency Malgorzata Wasilewska] and the Canadian High Commissioner [Her Excellency Laurie Peters] have been very much involved in our efforts to get these shelters. The EU Ambassador has left, but the Canadian High Commissioner [who] will be leaving soon, wanted an opportunity to see where we were in this effort,” said the Minister.

Peters, who accompanied Grange on the recent tour, said: “I am delighted to be here with Minister Grange today at this the first of several nationally funded women’s shelters. We all recognise, Canada in particular, the importance of having safe spaces for women and their families. We have seen that the COVID-19 pandemic has put additional pressure on families as they are in isolation and none too soon this is a timely undertaking and I’m heartened to see that it has the space and the capacity to be able to welcome women and their families…”

Minister Grange said she was happy with the development, adding that the facility needed a few items to ensure the comfort of clients.

“So, we can do with television sets and bunk beds and desks, toys for the kids and so on. We have studio facilities, and we have one-bedroom facilities. The rooms are very spacious so we can, in fact, accommodate a family in an apartment,” said Minister Grange.

The Minister has urged women in abusive situations to call for help, directing them to the Bureau of Gender Affairs (BGA).

The BGA’s numbers are 876-754-8577-8 or 876-929-2997.