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Rise in common law unions fuelling domestic violence – Health Ministry

Published:Friday | June 2, 2017 | 12:00 AM

A senior Health Ministry official is attributing the rise in domestic violence in Jamaica to the growing number of persons living in unmarried relationships.

Regional Technical Director in the Ministry of Health, Dr Michael Coombs, says poor family structure and instability are fuelling the scourge of domestic violence plaguing the society given that traditional marriages are on the decline, and cohabitation on the increase.

Dr Coombs points out that this is why 85 per cent of births in Jamaica are to unwed mothers.

Addressing a town-hall meeting on domestic violence on Wednesday at the Mandeville Baptist Church in Manchester, he cited a 2005 report published in the Journal of Pediatrics which indicated that a child living with a single mother in a relationship with a male who is not the child’s father, is almost 50 times more likely to die from inflicted injuries than a child living with their married biological parents.

The Health Ministry director highlights that married women are significantly less likely to experience intimate partner or domestic violence when compared to single women in other types of domestic arrangements.

Consequently, he says Jamaica’s national response to domestic violence needs to go beyond punitive measures for perpetrators and education, detection, treatment and support for victims, to promoting healthy parental marriage, especially among its youth.