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Kingston - A total of one hundred and twenty-three (123) adults and youths are to benefit from a youth forum that provides an opportunity for engagement and open dialogue on sexual violence and sexual offences legislation in Jamaica.
The theme of the forum was “Breaking the Silence”. It perfectly captured the aim of the forum, which was to empower the youth and improve community awareness on the issue of domestic violence as well as sexual violence and the Sexual Offences Act.
The youth forum was hosted at the University of West Indies, Mona campus, on February 15, 2012. It was organized by Woman Inc in partnership with the Ministry of National Security’s Jamaica Partners for Peace (JamPfP) project supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). A wide cross-section of participants,including members of the Government, communities, civil society, academia and university students, made the forum inclusive and interactive.
In the Caribbean and in Jamaica especially, only a fraction of violence against women and girls is identified or reported. Victims may feel ashamed of reporting incidents of violence, afraid that they will not be believed or worried that the repercussions of seeking help will be more violence. The information available of the extent of the problem in the Country is troubling. Data from the police indicate that in 2010, 18.0 per cent of the victims of selected major crimes[i] were aged 19 years and under. Almost three-quarters (74.0 per cent) of these 1,963 young victims were girls. Of the girls, almost two-thirds (62.0 per cent) were the victims of carnal abuse or rape in 2010. For adult women, the figures are not very comforting either. The data show that in 2007 there were 9,625 reported cases of domestic violence. This was approximately 29% more than the number of cases reported in 2006.
UNDP focuses on gender equality and women's empowerment not only as human rights, but also because they are a pathway to achieving the Millennium Development Goals and sustainable development.
Speaking at the Opening session of the youth forum, Dr. Arun Kashyap, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative pointed out that “The work of the United Nations and particularly United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) constantly reminds us that the health of women and children go together; and elimination of all kinds of discrimination and violence against women is the basis to have healthy families and therefore healthy communities. Promoting women’s rights and reducing all forms of gender-based violence, especially sexual violence, is fundamental to greater socio-economic equity and sustainable human development. ”. Dr. Kashyap further highlighted that the United Nations supportss the Gender Cause thought the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign, which aims to prevent and eliminate violence against women and girls in all parts of the world.
The JamPfP community of practice was launched on November 10, 2009 with funding support from UNDP in Jamaica. The JamPfP was developed in response to the urgent need for coordination of security, justice and armed violence prevention initiatives in the Country. The platform is an electronically-supported knowledge network that connects practitioners and other stakeholders working on peace-building and security projects. It serves to increase the effectiveness of their individual efforts by tapping into the collective knowledge and experience of practitioners locally, regionally and internationally.
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Participants included: Peace Management Initiative, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour and Social Security, Sistren Theatre Collective, Canaan Heights Women's Group, Citizens Social and Justice Programme - Ministry of National Security, Jamaica 4H Club, and students and lecturers from the University of the West Indies, Northern Caribbean University, Jamaica Theological Seminary and Greater Brown's Town Community College, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations
 PIOJ - Economic and Social Survey 2010. Unfortunately the categories used by the Police Statistics Dept. are not child-friendly.
 Economic and Social Survey Jamaica 2007
[i] Murder, shooting, robbery, break-ins, larceny, rape and carnal abuse.