THE UNIVERSITY of the West Indies' Institute for Gender and Development Studies (IGDS), Mona, has said the brutal rape of five females, including an eight year old, in St James on Monday night, highlights the need for Government, civil society and all Jamaicans to take more serious action to eliminate violence against women and girls.
In condemning the incident, which has left the nation in shock, Dr Leith Dunn, senior lecturer/head of IGDS, said there is a need for equal participation by women at the decision-making table, so that matters such as sexual assaults, in which they have a vested interest, can come up for greater attention.
"This includes support for quotas to guarantee more equal participation of women at the highest levels of decision making to encourage more consistent priority being given to eliminate the epidemic of sexual assaults against our women and girls," said Dunn.
In calling on rape victims to report their ordeal to the police and for ordinary citizens to support the police in bringing all rapists and sexual predators to justice, the IGDS head said Monday night's incident adds to the already frightening 1,114 cases of rape reported by the Jamaica Constabulary Force up to September 8.
Dunn said rape is a serious crime with women and girls being victims because of the unequal power relations that exist between males and females and society's tolerance of violence.
The IGDS head said as Jamaica commemorates 50 years of political Independence, the Irwin tragedy should be used to trigger a renewal of the nation's commitment to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.