THE findings of the recently published Women's Health Survey for Jamaica show that one in every four Jamaican women (25.2 per cent) has experienced physical violence by a male partner. The survey also revealed that 23 per cent of women had been sexually abused by men other than their partners, and 20.5 per cent of girls were sexually abused before they reached the age of 18.
Speaking at a public forum addressing intimate partner violence last week, Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, said that for many years, we have been using anecdotal information, as well as international data to speak about intimate partner violence locally, which has its own context and specific nuances.
“We now know from the results of the Women's Health Survey that one in every four women in Jamaica has been slapped, beaten with fists, kicked, pushed, or attacked with a weapon. We also know that one out of every five women reported being sexually abused before reaching 18-years-old, and the person who did it was a family member or a relative,” Grange said.
Speaking at the forum, project coordinator and author of the report, Carol Watson Williams, said there are some very interesting findings in the survey.
“One of them that I like to talk about is the fact that women don't stay silent about their abuse. We found that 80 per cent of the women had, in fact, told someone — a friend, a family member — that they were being abused. So I like to say at the time a woman is murdered, somebody knew that there was something happening in that relationship that was painful.”
The survey, which was conducted in 2016, was co-published by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women.