- Gender Ministry promises complete overhaul of Domestic Violence Act
The Ministry of National Security and the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport have signaled their intention to advance talks on a mobile response unit and gender-based violence mapping to strengthen the reach and impact of the Jamaica Constabulary Force’s Domestic Violence Intervention Centre (DVIC) network.
Clear indication of the plans to partner on strengthening the DVIC’s targeted outreach came on Thursday (7 October) at the handing over ceremony of six additional DVICs to the Jamaica Constabulary Force from the European Union and United Nations’ Spotlight Initiative.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Security the Hon Dr Horace Chang said mindful of the broad social impact of domestic violence, the Government of Jamaica has committed to providing the requisite partnership, legislative and policy support in order to curb the societal tendency towards violence.
“The Ministry of National Security and the police force stand at the forefront, but it is a whole of government activity,” he emphasized.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, the Hon Olivia Grange in her remarks committed to continuing consultations with the Ministry of National Security with a view to: Incorporating a mobile response unit to strengthen DVIC response; creating Gender Based Violence mappings from daily crime reports from police divisions; creating partnerships for the observance of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women in order to share updates with the public on the outcomes; strengthening partnership between the Bureau of Gender Affairs and the JCF; and working with community groups to provide greater support to the established DVICs.
Minister Grange reported that the Ministry has also reserved place for the DVIC management on the Gender Advisory Council to work on the implementation of the National Strategic Action Plan to eliminate Gender Based Violence in Jamaica.
Domestic Violence Act amendments ongoing – At AG’s Chambers
In updating the handing over ceremony on the status of amendments to Domestic Violence legislation, she reported the Act has been through two rounds of review and the Ministry is currently awaiting feedback from the Attorney General's chambers before tabling amendments in Parliament. “I'm hoping to table the amendments very, very soon,” she emphasized.
Minister Grange reported that amendments include: Expanding the definition of Domestic Violence to recognize the physical sexual emotional and psychological dimensions; increasing powers of the court to grant a protection order or an occupation order; increasing fines for the breach of a Protection Order from $10,000 to $1,000,000 ; stronger penalties for breaches of Protection Orders; expansion of the categories of persons allowed to apply for Protection Orders, as well as expansion of prohibited behavior patterns.
“The amendments signify the government's commitment to protecting our society but more specifically our women and girls from abuse whether it be sexual, psychological, financial, emotional, verbal or economic,” Minister Grange said. “I can tell you that many more far-reaching changes are coming when we do a complete overhaul of the Domestic Violence Act,” she declared.
The Handing Over Ceremony was also addressed by Commissioner of Police Major General Antony Anderson, EU Ambassador Her Excellency Marianne Van Steen and UN Resident Coordinator Dr Garry Conille.
The Spotlight Initiative is a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. Launched with a global seed funding commitment of €500 million from the European Union, the initiative represents an unprecedented global effort to invest in gender equality and women’s empowerment as a precondition and driver for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Jamaica represents one of the largest investments in Caribbean Spotlight countries, with an 8 Million Euro allocation.
The six pillars of the Spotlight Initiative are: Developing and implementing relevant legislation and policies; Strengthening national and sub-national institutions; Preventing violence through evidence-based programming and campaigns; Strengthening quality essential services for victims and survivors; Ensuring the collection and use of prevalence and incidence data; and Partnering with civil society organizations.
For full list of the DVIC network go to: https://jcf.gov.jm/domestic-violence-intervention-centers/