Tue | Sep 25, 2018

Violence against women 30 years on

Published:Monday | October 6, 2014 | 12:00 AM

Cathy Risden, Lifestyle Writer

There seems to be no end to violence against women. In the last 30 years, it seems to have increased. According to our first issue of the Flair Magazine on October 6, 1984, crime against women, particularly rape and 'wife-battering', were the main crimes committed against women.

The World Health Organization's (WHO) website stated that "Violence against women - particularly intimate partners and sexual violence against women - are major public health problems and violations of women's human rights."

Shame and guilt

Shame and guilt are among the factors identified that have continued to help perpetuate the 'deafening silence' of victims. Over 30 per cent of victims never speak out; but as the employment level among women increases and additional laws are put in place to protect these victims, more are coming forward.

Does violence against women continue because women are too embarrassed to tell their family members and other associates? According to information we received from the Bureau of Women's Affairs for this story, "Most domestic violence involves male anger directed against their female partners. This gender difference appears to be rooted in the way boys and men are socialised. Pregnant women are particularly vulnerable to gender-based violence. Some husbands become more violent during their wife's pregnancy, kicking or hitting them in the abdomen. Cross-cultural studies of 'wife abuse' have found that nearly a fifth of peasant and small-scale societies are essentially free of family violence. The existence of such cultures proves that male violence against women is not the inevitable result of male biology or sexuality, but more a matter of how society views masculinity."

The WHO website noted, "recent global-prevalence figures indicate that 35 per cent of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime." While in some spheres it is still debated if a husband can rape his wife, it is said that sex should be something that is consented to by both partners, anything else is considered rape. "On average, 30 per cent of women who have been in a relationship report that they have experienced some form of physical or sexual violence by their partner," according to the WHO website.

The victims

The Bureau of Women's Affairs is mandated to mobilise the Government to address the problems that confront women, given the impact of patriarchy and sexism. "The prevalence of domestic violence in a given society is the result of tacit acceptance by that society. The way men view themselves as men, and the way they view women, will determine whether they use violence or coercion against women. The United Nations Population Fund recognises that ending gender-based violence will mean changing cultural concepts about masculinity, and that process must actively engage men, whether they are policymakers, parents, spouses or young boys."

Today, the Bureau of Women's Affairs has a plan that was not available 30 years ago. Earlier this year, the Government of Jamaica developed a National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Gender-Based Violence (2014-2024) (NSAP-GBV). This was developed through extensive consultation with stakeholders (which include, but is not limited to police, civil society, academia, men's and women's groups). The NSAP-GBV is consistent with the 'five Ps' approach to GBV; Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and investigation, Punishment and Provision of redress, which are all designed to strengthen Jamaica's legal framework.

The National Strategic Action Plan will seek to ensure equality and address those groups and individuals who are deferentially impacted by gender-based violence because of their situation or additional discrimination, such as children, persons with disabilities, other vulnerable persons, rural women, and elderly men and women.

If you are a victim of abuse, you can contact Women Incorporated Jamaica (Women Inc) Crisis Centre at 4 Ellesmere Road.

Tel: 929-9038

Email: wicrisiscentre@yahoo.com

In Montego Bay at:

4 Sam Sharpe Square

Tel: 952-9533-4

The World Health Organization, http://www.who.int/about/en/

Bureau of Women's Affairs, Office of the Prime Minister, 1 Devon Road, Kingston 10. Tel: 927 9941-3, Fax: 968-8229.

cathy.risden@gleanerjm.com