THE EDITOR, Sir:
The members of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies write to express our congratulations, and gratitude, to Opposition Senator Kamina Johnson Smith on her recent motion recommending amendments to the Offences Against the Persons Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Child Care and Protection Act, and, in particular, to those sections of the act which speak to offences against women.
The institute has always welcomed and encouraged initiatives to reduce and, ultimately, eliminate gender-based violence in the Jamaican society and the Caribbean at large; and we are particularly buoyed by the intended review of the National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Gender-based Violence in Jamaica.
As a signatory to the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which asserts that violence against women both violates and impairs the enjoyment by women of their fundamental human rights and freedoms, Jamaica must be congratulated on this move.
The motion and consequent review also come at an opportune time in our development, given the pervasiveness of violence generally, and gender-based violence specifically, even in the face of previous attempts to address the incidence of gender-based violence through policy and legislative frameworks.
Furthermore, it would appear that the historical inadequacy of response of the legal system, the persistence of stereotypes that devalue women, insufficient training of criminal justice personnel, and the lack of enforcement measures designed to combat violence against women have contributed to a de facto culture of impunity, which has constituted a major obstacle to women's access to justice.
Congratulations, Senator John-son Smith!
INSTITUTE FOR GENDER