Near 100 per cent rise in domestic violence reports in five years
Zavia Mayne says issue is more prevalent than previous data show
THERE WAS an almost 100 per cent increase in the number of Jamaicans who reported experiencing domestic abuse or violence over the last five years.
According to Zavia Mayne, minister of state in the Ministry of National Security, the annual number of reported cases of domestic violence increased from just over 4,000 to around 8,000; a rise of almost 100 per cent.
“This increase is an indication of greater confidence in our police; but regardless, it reveals that these incidents are more prevalent than previous data would have suggested,” Mayne said while giving the keynote address at the opening ceremony of the regional workshop on operational command of gender-based violence (GBV) policing.
The event was held at the AC Marriott Hotel on the fringes of New Kingston on Monday.
Mayne stated that 80 per cent of surveyed women who experienced gender-based violence, talked with their families, friends and neighbours about their experiences; however, most women did not seek formal help from institutions that provide care.
He said some of the other reports have shown high rates of domestic and sexual violence, but admitted that there are times when such incidents are unreported due to fear of shame, social stigma and further violence.
To add to this, a Caribbean Policy Research Institute (CAPRI) report, released online last Thursday, stated that 28 per cent of Jamaican women experience direct gender-based violence over a lifetime, and seven per cent of women reported experiencing abuse from an intimate partner in the past 12 months in Jamaica.
According to the CAPRI report, “Violence against women and girls can be direct and enacted on an individual level, both physically and non-physically; examples include sexual harassment, stalking, battery, trafficking, financial manipulation, coercive control, kidnapping, and torture.”
Prior to this, the results of the first national survey on gender-based violence in Jamaica show a high prevalence rate of 27.8 per cent, with more than one in every four women in Jamaica experiencing intimate-partner violence in their lifetime.
Sharon Robinson, principal director, Bureau of Gender Affairs, who represented the minister of culture, gender, entertainment and sport at the event, summarised how the Government intends to continue its fight against the silent epidemic of gender-based violence.
“As a country, Jamaica has been benefiting immensely from this global initiative, particularly in the areas of capacity-building and institutional strengthening of the Bureau of Gender Affairs and the Jamaica Constabulary Force. Last September, I had the pleasure of participating in the handing over of additional domestic violence intervention centres (DVIs) in select parishes across Jamaica. These centres are pivotal to shaping the face of GBV service delivery,” Robinson said.
She said that in keeping with the National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Gender-based Violence in Jamaica 2017-2027, her ministry, in partnership with select ministries, departments and agencies, aims to increase the provision of trauma-informed and survivor-centred services to GBV survivors as part of a suite of provisions under the “continuum of care”.
“Over the last two years, since the launch of the Spotlight Initiative in Jamaica on March 9, 2020, my ministry has been taking the lead on a series of initiatives and action ... .
Undoubtedly, the momentum is gathering locally, regionally and internationally, and there is increased awareness on issues concerning family violence through the Spotlight Initiative Country Programme for Jamaica. I truly believe that indifference to domestic violence is declining in our region and country,” Robinson said.
She said the regional workshop is indicative of the developmental support which is being provided through the Spotlight Initiative Country Programme to respond to this “pervasive monster” of family violence as a form of gender-based violence.
Jamaica’s principal policy towards reducing violence against women and girls is the 2017 Jamaica National Strategic Action Plan to Address Gender-Based Violence. It calls for action across several priority areas, including prevention, protection, prosecution, and enforcement.
The regional workshop on operational command of gender-based violence policing was convened by the Jamaica Constabulary Force, the inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and UN Women. It has been specially designed with learning and engagement exercises for senior law-enforcement officers in the Caribbean who are tasked with managing dedicated domestic and sexual violence units.
The exercise supports improved GBV policing within IDB’s six Caribbean member states: The Bahamas, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago. The five-day regional workshop placed priority on improving technical competencies for unit leaders in the day-to-day management of cases, from the initial report through to investigation and submission for judicial processing.