We must “do more” to combat violence against women, Jamaica’s Gender Advisory Committee urges

I am not done with the domestic violence issue yet – which reared its ugly head with the emergence of a viral video, allegedly showing a parliamentarian hitting a woman with a stool, earlier this month. Mr. Wright has now taken leave from Parliament and his lawyer says that comments in the public domain may be considered defamatory. “No comment” on that, but the relevant social media emoji can be applied, if you wish.

Meanwhile (and I should have shared this earlier) here is the press release from the Gender Advisory Committee, dated Monday, April 19. I like the emphasis on the word “doing” and “action.” So I highlighted them myself.

Tune in to a panel discussion this evening – streaming live on YouTube on CVM Television.

The George Wright Issue: We Must Do More!

We, the members of the Gender Advisory Committee (GAC) for the period January 2018 to January 2021 whose names are affixed below, are committed to doing more! We are deeply troubled about the alleged abusive behaviour of MP George Wright. The first context is the “physical altercation” reported to the police by MP George Wright and Tannisha Singh on April 6, 2021. They are allegedly linked to the circulation on social media of a violent battering of a woman by a man.

The second context is the rising incidence of family and domestic violence. This incident brings to the fore the perpetuation of violence against women and girls (VAW). It amplifies the absence of effective institutions mechanisms to curb gender-based violence (GBV). We must do more to end this perpetual cycle of violence and abuse!

We have, therefore, requested an urgent meeting with The Hon. Olivia “Babsy” Grange, M.P., Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment, and Sport. The meeting is intended for us to do more! We must expedite specific actions that can accelerate the achievement of the goals and objectives of the National Policy for Gender Equality (NPGE). This action is imperative to bring short term and longer term protection and relief to women, girls, and families affected, as well as to curb the escalation of GBV.

It is expected that the meeting will examine, among other things:

  1. Consequences for behaviour inconsistent with the Guiding Principles of the NPGE: Political leadership and committment are among the Guiding Principles of the NPGE required “to raise and address gendered issues that are often hidden within the very structures, which support hierarchy and leadership.” The policy explicitly states that: “political, business, religious and community leaders must model the principles of the NPGE for it to be successful.”
  2. Legislative proposals, including but not limited to: a) examining legislation to prosecute domestic abusers without the support or direct involvement of survivors of abuse, through mechanisms such as “evidence-led prosecutions” that exist in jurisdictions such as England and Wales, which can rely on witness accounts or CCTV footage; b) convening a Joint Select Committee to examine the Constitution (Amendment) (Impeachment) Bill (2011); and c) ensuring that constitutional or other legislative provisions are in place to allow for the adoption of Temporary Special Measures (TSMs) as provided under section 31 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
  3. Inadequate actions to achieve some of the objectives of the NPGE: Since the inception of the NCPGE, several policy objectives were identified and given timeframes for achievement that have been missed. These include signing and ratifying the Optional Protocol to CEDAW and the elimination of gender disparity in wages and labour laws. We must do more to achieve these and other objectives.
  4. Parliamentary Committee action: We urge the Human Resource and Social Development Parliamentary Committee to convene and/or the establishment of a Special Select Committee, as a matter of urgency, to examine legislative proposals and the adequacy of the NPGE (including its financing), and to actively engage citizens across Jamaica in finding solutions to GBV. A bi-partisan Parliamentary Committee provides an excellent opportunity for female Parliamentarians to use their platforms “to promote greater gender cohesion and partnerships” as called for by the Most Honorable Juliet Holness on March 8, 2021.
  5. The effectiveness of the GAC: In executing its mandate to guide implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of the NPGE and the National Strategic Action Plan to Eliminate Violence Against Women (NSAP-GBV) (2017-2027). We are of the view that the GAC requires substantial rethinking and re-strategizing to more effectively carry out its mandate.

We are committed to doing more to ensure that the goals and objectives of the NPGE can be achieved. We urge every Jamaican to do more to end the scourge of gender-based violence and all forms of violence in Jamaica!

Note: the GAC is a multi-sectoral body established via Cabinet Decision No. 1/18 on January 8, 2018 to be operational for three (3) years ending January 7, 2021.

Finally (for now) I am going to share the statements issued by two private sector organizations on the matter, last week – in my next post. I do not think they got the airing they deserved.

Gender Affairs Minister Olivia “Babsy” Grange, said a few years back that “we MUST look at the root causes of the issue of violence against women and girls and address them with ACTION.” But has this been happening? (My photo)

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