Sexual violence against women and girls in Jamaica

Sexual violence against women and girls in Jamaica

End violence against women in Jamaica

This paper deals with the issue of sexual violence against girls and women in Jamaica. The paper points out that because the social discrimination against women, particularly with regards to sexual violence, is often exacerbated by the criminal justice system, many women in the country are reluctant to report incidences of gender based violence to the police. Consequently, it is estimated that only about 25 percent of sexual violence is reported. The paper also points out that marital rape is not a statutory crime in Jamaica, and therefore difficult to prosecute.

The paper also discusses this issue within the wider context of the high levels of violence in Jamaica and the widespread availability of guns. It makes several recommendations to the government of Jamaica for reducing gender based violence in the country including the following:

  • train police, in particular police forensic medical investigators, in all aspects of investigation of sexual offences
  • create a mechanism for investigating and responding to complaints against members of the police
  • initiate a national campaign addressing sexual violence and discrimination against women in consultation with women’s organisations
  • provide up-to-date information and material about the support measures available to abused women and their children
  • reform the Offences against the Persons Act and the Incest (Punishment) Act to take into account the everday realities of women and girls
  • legislate against sexual harassment
  • provide gender sensitivity training for all court officials
  • immediately implement the provisions of the Child Care and Protection Act 2004 by providing resources for the establishment of the Children’s Registry for reporting child abuse.
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