Raise awareness on sexual violence
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Jamaica continues to perpetuate a culture of sexual violence towards our women. Women are continuously seen and treated as objects that men own and do anything with because that is their function. Violence against women in Jamaica persists because the State is failing to tackle discrimination, allowing social and cultural attitudes that encourage inappropriate behaviour and violence.
Women and adolescent girls are rarely believed by the police, so there is little confidence in reporting acts of sexual violence. Witnesses are rarely protected. In court, women's testimony is explicitly given less weight than men's, thereby depriving women of the right to equality before the law.
According to a report done by a United Nations body, the rate of sexual violence against women in Jamaica is very high and is accompanied by spiralling levels of community violence and homicide.
Amnesty International has made a few recommendations for addressing this issue, which I have made small changes to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) women:
1 Train forensic medical investigators, especially as it relates to sexual offences against LGBT.
2 In consultation with women's organisations, initiate a national campaign addressing sexual violence and discrimination against women.
3 Provide up-to-date information and material about the support measures available to abused women and their children.
4 Provide gender-sensitivity training for all court officials.