State Minister in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Alando Terrelonge, says the Government continues to work to strengthen legislation aimed at eliminating acts of violence against women.
“From a national perspective, we have taken several measures to combat violence against women. Jamaica has ratified several gender-related international instruments that promote the protection and preservation of human rights and discourage gender-based violence,”
Terrelonge was addressing the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life (JASL) HIV, Law & Human Rights virtual symposium, held today yesterday, under the theme ‘Unmasking Violence against Women within the context of HIV and AIDS’.
This theme is in keeping with the issues of sexual and gender-based violence and its intersectionality with HIV.
The virtual symposium was part of the local activities to commemorate International Women’s Day 2021.
The State Minister said that some progress has been made in fulfilling its obligations under these instruments in adopting, signing and amending gender legislation to address the prevalence of gender-based violence.
Notably, Terrelonge said a special Joint Select Committee of Parliament, chaired by Portfolio Minister, Olivia Grange, has been formed to strengthen the laws intended to provide women with greater protection against domestic violence.
These laws are the Sexual Offences Act, the Offences Against the Person Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Child Care and Protection Act.
“Emphasis has been placed on these offences and these legislation as they relate to [violence] against pregnant women and the assault of women, irrespective of their sexual orientation,”
“Sexual offences against women, children and the elderly and other such violent crimes have taken prominence in terms of addressing sentences, among other things,”
The State Minister said recommendations have also been made for legislation to be amended to facilitate better administration of justice and effective protection of these special groups of persons.
Some of these recommendations include harsher penalties for breaching the Domestic Violence Act.
Terrelonge said another landmark achievement in addressing violence against women is the Sexual Harassment Bill, which was tabled in the House of Representatives on July 9, 2019.
“A Joint Select Committee has been set up and is looking at that legislation and its provisions, to make sure that it becomes a reality soon,”
The symposium aimed to show the connectivity between gender-based violence and HIV and AIDS, as well as to facilitate discussions on the impact of violence against women and its classification as a human rights violation and the role of government and other key stakeholders in protecting the rights of women, particularly those living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.