A common complaint among advocates against gender-based violence is that there are not enough shelters or safe spaces for victims, especially women.
In fact, the Woman Inc Crisis Centre is the only centre, despite limited resources, which has managed to remain open since its inception in 1988.
But alongside Woman Inc, Good Samaritan Inn, c/o East Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventist Churches, also offers that service to women, something it has been doing for the last five years.
Vermont Murray of the Good Samaritan Inn shared that the initial focus of the facility is to care for the homeless by providing them daily with meals, while some people use this facility to launder their clothing and have a bath. However, the facility also offers small-scale accommodation, free of cost, to women who are victims of gender-based violence.
Murray shared that the area is difficult to speak about because of the social landscape of Jamaica. Apart from providing shelter, he added, the main aim is to put families back together, and so counselling services are given to both victims and aggressors.
“Anger management is a serious issue, and the need for wide-scale programmes that deal with this is great. When a man is in a rage you don't know what can happen. We find that most of the aggressors will change or begin to turn around when they undergo counselling, and so we have part-time counsellors on site too,” Murray said.
Further, Murray said one of his main concerns is the prevention of violence against women.
“How do we prevent this? Our men need to be counselled and given opportunities from in the home and family life to express themselves in the right way. Counselling and education are important; let them see the repercussions and dangers of their actions. My emphasis is to prevent the need for this situation,” he said.
Murray also pointed out that in addition to his counselling services, one of the paramount responsibilities of the inn is to maintain the privacy of these women.
“A woman battered today could be a mother with a child tomorrow, and they want to know they are protected. That is our assurance,” he said.
Earlier this year Governor General Sir Patrick Allen announced, while delivering his Throne Speech, that two shelters are to be established for victims of domestic violence.
He said space for the facilities has already been identified and inspection reports have been completed. One of the shelters will be located in the urban area and the other will be situated in rural Jamaica.
He noted that the Bureau of Gender Affairs will lead the process of ensuring adequate prevention, protection and redress for the most vulnerable in the society under the 2017-2027 National Strategic Plan to eliminate gender-based violence.