Camille Tracey, Gleaner Intern
Noted Attorney-at-law and women rights advocate Margarette Macaulay has expressed concern that Jamaican women are not taking advantage of the laws in place to protect them.
Addressing the Women's Leader-ship Initiative International Women's Day luncheon at the Wyndham, New Kingston, last Friday, Macaulay cited fear, ignorance of the law and embarrassment as reasons Jamaican women fail to seek help.
She said many women only seek help when their circumstances are dire.
According to Macaulay, Jamaica is way ahead of its Caribbean counterparts in passing legislation on women's rights.
"We have to applaud the Government of Jamaica, which has worked towards this and is still working. I am encouraging women to celebrate Jamaica in its effort to pass these laws and legislation to protect women's rights," declared Macaulay.
"We also have to continue towards the goal of clearing our laws which speak to discrimination against women," she added, noting that many rivers have been crossed, including the passing of the Family Court Act, the Domestic Violence Act, among others.
The attorney pointed to other protection laws, including the Reform Age of Majority Act, Family Independence Act and the Matrimonial Causes Act - which makes it easier for women to obtain divorce - as proof of the progress towards the protection of women's rights in Jamaica.
She gave the audience pause when she revealed that under the provision of the Property Rights of Spouse Act, depending on the circumstances given, a judge has the authority to put a husband outside of his house or rule for him to seek other accommodation, leaving the wife in the matrimonial home even if her name does not appear on the title.
Macaulay was supported by Senator Marlene Malahoo-Forte who argued that too many women sit suffering silently from physical, emotional and other abuses, "while the state is there to protect them".