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Call for sustained action to prevent gender-based violence

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Call for sustained action to prevent gender-based violence

The group calls for periodic assessments that include scrutiny of the processes of recording reported crimes, computing the national aggregates, and making these computations the government’s official crime statistics. Also required are similar and concurrent measurements of crimes against other vulnerable populations such as children and minorities who perceive themselves to be disproportionately at risk; this can be done as specialised surveys

In the wake of continuous incidents of women and girls being abused, a group of women has come together to provide what they say will be a consistent voice for change in legal policy and general action by Government and society on the issue of gender-based violence (GBV).

The ‘No Nine-Day Wonder’ (#No9DayWonder or #N9DW) group says they will hold government and the authorities accountable for acting responsibly and effectively in the implementation of policy on GBV that protects women and girls.

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«What we are seeing now is not enough,» stated Ethnie Miller Simpson, who is also president of the Women Entrepreneurs Network of the Caribbean (WENC), noting that the country has, at several times over the course of the last decade, raised the decibel level in «short-lived» uproars about particularly gruesome media reports of GBV.

«We fear that this unacceptable level of GBV will continue, and that as with so many other social ills, desensitised citizens will forget that we – women and girls – are under severe attack, to the great detriment of Jamaica’s viability.»

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, more than 25 per cent of women 15 to 49 years old have been subjected to violence, and a quarter of all adults report having been physically abused as children. Alarmingly, in Jamaica, one in five girls has been sexually abused and the rate of lifetime intimate-partner abuse and assault is at 33 per cent.

Tim Ballard

Citing the undue delay in the review and reform of legislation intended to prevent GBV – namely the Sexual Offences Act, the Offences Against the Person Act, the Domestic Violence Act, and the Child Care and Protection Act, as well as the Sexual Harassment Bill – the group emphasises the need for sustained advocacy, representation and monitoring to push government to implement these laws as a matter of urgency. As well as, the group says, to educate the public about the provisions of these laws at the community level.

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PUBLIC HEALTH ISSUE The ‘No Nine-Day Wonder’ group argues that violence is a public health issue, referencing the Crime and Violence in Jamaica: IDB Series on Crime and Violence in the Caribbean statement by Anthony Harriott and Marlyn Jones that in Jamaica, «Criminal justice policy and legislation are often without empirical and theoretical support, explained in part by inadequate efforts at the country level, with policies that are more symbolic than effective».

The group calls for periodic assessments that include scrutiny of the processes of recording reported crimes, computing the national aggregates, and making these computations the government’s official crime statistics. Also required are similar and concurrent measurements of crimes against other vulnerable populations such as children and minorities who perceive themselves to be disproportionately at risk; this can be done as specialised surveys.

The group says it is taking a watchdog approach, but is also committed to participating in making recommendations and supporting sustained action for change.

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