Education on gender violence needed – Novelette Grant
Novelette Grant, who ended her career in the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) as a deputy commissioner of police, is calling for more emphasis to be placed on addressing the educational needs within the justice system in regard to the impact of gender-based violence and how to address its underlying causes.
Grant, who was speaking during a Jamaica Baptist Union’s 169th general assembly town hall meeting on gender-based violence at the Calvary Baptist Church, in Montego Bay on Thursday, said that in her opinion, enough is not being done to address what she termed a ‘complex issue’.
“While we’re trying to educate our members (in the police force), I don’t think enough is being done to educate the other actors in the justice system to really start to understand what is a very complex issue, because we have to recognise that all of us are part of a society that has a particular outlook around gender violence,” Grant told the meeting.
“Victims are shamed into taking responsibility for the action of the perpetrators, as most people start out by asking a victim, ‘What did you do?’ said Grant. “On top of that, even when they may go to the point of arrest, when it comes to testifying in court, because of the lengthy delays in the court system, that’s additional pressure and a time for all kinds of persons to get into the head of a victim to say ‘don’t’.”
Grant also complained that there are not enough domestic violence shelters available to facilitate victims, who may choose to leave their abusers, especially if the victims have children.
“We don’t have enough refuge shelters for people who are in domestic-violence situations. Too many nights you go to a police station and see a woman there with three children sitting up in the guardroom, because there’s no where to send them to, and to move people with children from Point A to Point B is not easy, so that’s why they keep going back,” said Grant.
According to the Jamaica Women’s Health Survey 2016, the first national survey on gender-based violence which was released last year, one in every four Jamaican women has experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime.
Other data from the Jamaica Women’s Health Survey 2016
- 7.7 per cent of women have experienced sexual violence from their partners in their lifetime.
- 25.2 per cent of women have experienced physical violence from their partners in their lifetime.
- 8.5 per cent of women have experienced economic abuse
- 28.8 per cent of women have suffered emotional abuse.
- 31 per cent, or nearly one-third, of women in the 25-29 age range have experienced physical violence from an intimate partner. In that same age group, 12.2 per cent had experienced intimate partner physical violence in the past year.