Kingston, 8 October 2021 – The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has said the Government of Jamaica is continuing to utilise “a whole of Government approach” to tackle Domestic Violence, which is a local and international dilemma.
Minister Grange was speaking on the occasion of the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative Virtual Handover of six new Domestic Violence Intervention Centres (DVICs) on October 7, 2021.
Miss Grange said:
“Through the Bureau of Gender Affairs within my Ministry, the Gender Mainstreaming programme works closely with key stakeholders, such as the Jamaica Constabulary Force, to effectively respond to domestic violence to create a safe and more equitable society.
I have reserved a place for the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s DVIC on the Gender Advisory Council to work with us on the implementation of the National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate GBV in Jamaica.
I have also written to the JCF to provide updates on our National Shelter Strategy and they have responded with the appropriate officers to provide support.
The JCF must be acknowledged and commended for the strategic application of the Five Pillar Strategy for Crime Prevention and Citizen Security. The momentum is gathering locally, regionally and internationally.
I am proud also of the progress that my Ministry has made to get tabled the approved amendments for the Domestic Violence Act.
The approved amendments have already been through two rounds of review between my Ministry and the Office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel. Currently, we are awaiting feedback from the Attorney General’s Chambers, subsequent to which, we will table the Bill in Parliament.
The amendments include specific definition of “domestic violence’ in the Act, to recognise the physical, sexual, emotional and psychological aspects of domestic violence.
Under Section Three, the Power of the Court has been increased to grant a Protection Order or an Occupation Order.
As Minister of Gender Affairs, I have been given residual power to act on behalf of victims and survivors of gender-based violence. The Bureau of Gender Affairs and the Women’s Resource Outreach Centre are authorised to act on behalf of victims and survivors who need to apply for a Protection Order.
The fine for the breach of a Protection Order, has been increased exponentially, from a mere Ten Thousand Dollars to One Million Dollars and stronger penalties will be put in place to address the issue of enforcement, particularly in cases where Protection Orders are breached.
There will be an expansion of the categories of persons allowed to apply for protection orders as well as the expansion of prohibited behaviour patterns.
No longer will victims be restricted to establishing a pattern of abuse before redress can be sought before a Court. Instead, the Act will provide for the protection of the victim from the behaviour patterns of an abuser that can become abusive, from the threatening harassing behaviour of persons connected to an abuser as well as the confiscation of a firearm from an abuser when used in a threatening manner.
The amendments signify the Government’s commitment to protecting our society, but more specifically our women and girls, from abuse in domestic situations; whether it be sexual, psychological, financial, emotional, verbal and economic.”
The Gender Minister said that, “Many more far-reaching changes” were coming.
And Minister Grange added that, “The long-awaited legislation aimed at tackling sexual harassment in Jamaica, has now been approved by both Houses. Following extensive debate, the Sexual Harassment Prevention and Protection Act 2021 was passed in the Senate, after being approved in the Lower House in July, with specific amendments.”
She said that the legislation addresses concerns about sexual harassment in the workplace, in institutions and in accommodations, particularly with regard to landlord and tenant relationships.
“My Ministry will continue to partner with the Ministry of National Security, other MDAs and key stakeholders to ensure that Gender Mainstreaming remains a crosscutting tool in all crime fighting strategies in this country,” Miss Grange concluded.