Kingston, 13 October 2023 – The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia Grange, has this evening released the following statement on violence against women and children.
“We can tell a lot about a country by the way it treats its women and children. What does it say about us when we see such horrific violence resulting in the death of women and children in our country, especially during the last few weeks?
They were mothers, daughters, aunts, sisters — each of them loved by someone who now carries a void that can never be filled. To condemn the violence and to say that our prayers are with the families does not express the pain and anger that I feel, that we all must feel, when we hear the chilling details of the violence.
Earlier this week as we gave an update to the CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Violence Against Women) Committee on the status of women in our country, I had to admit that despite various legislative, policy and programmatic measures, violence is still a challenging reality for too many of our sisters.
We can establish shelters, which we have done. We can establish domestic violence intervention centres at police stations, which we have done. We can establish helplines, which we have done. We can introduce and amend legislation, which we have done and will continue to do. However, these measures alone will not get the desired outcomes. We need all hands on deck now to end the violence. We can end the violence, but it requires all of us to end the violence.
The risk of violence is greatest in societies where the use of violence in many situations is a socially-accepted norm. The risk of violence, sadly, is high in Jamaica, because too many of us believe this violence is normal and inevitable. We must normalise the use of non-violent means of resolving our conflicts. We must cultivate a new culture that is intolerant of all forms of violence in our homes, in our institutions, in our workplaces, in our communities. Everywhere.
All of this week, we have been celebrating Heritage Week when we focus on the ancestors who gave their lives so that we may live today as free people in a country of our own with the opportunity to shape the future together.
Would the ancestors be proud of the lives we're living? Do we honour their sacrifices in how we conduct ourselves and treat each other?
We have to take stock. Do we want to be known as a country that kills its women and children? Or do we want to be known as a nation whose men and women live and work together in harmony? The choice is ours.
Let us continue to give support to the families of those who have been taken from us. I commiserate with all, including my colleague member of parliament, Phillip Paulwell, whose daughter and her mother are victims of the violence.
Let us also tell the police what we know so that we can put away the perpetrators.
And I urge us all to make an intervention and report the acts of violence that we know are going on next door. We can end the violence, but it requires all of us to end the violence.
To the woman or man who feels trapped in a violent relationship that may cost a life: my sister, my brother there is hope. Your life can change. It doesn’t have to be this way. Call the helpline or text us at 876-553-0372 and we will help.