ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Brand Jamaica — The land of wood, water and femicide?

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ONLINE READERS COMMENT: Brand Jamaica — The land of wood, water and femicide?

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

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Dear Editor,

As young university women, we want to ask the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, the Honourable Olivia “Babsy” Grange what is her strategy for addressing the alarming murder/suicide cases in Jamaica?

We have, for the longest while, heard her outlining “measures to eliminate violence against women”, announcing interventions for men, proposing “amendments to protect the vulnerable”, calling for this, and urging that, but so far there's nothing to show.

The 2016 Women's Health Survey published by UN-Women reported that more than one in four women (25.2%) in Jamaica have experienced physical violence by a male partner, with few of these cases resulting in femicide and/or familicide.

The shocking thing about this is not even the alarming hundreds of women who are crying for help in this country, it's that the Ministry has the data and evidence andfail to act promptly. This begs us to wonder, is it that all our politicians have to offer are big dreams to massage their egos around election time?

Where are the shelters for battered women?

Activists and women's rights organisationshave been calling for safe shelters for women who are victims of intimate partner violence, sexual violence, physical violence and the entire gamut of gender-based violence.

Minister Grange, we need you to remember that your job is also to champion these causes and to advocate for a portion of the National budget to be dedicated to facilities like this.

The ministry, through the Bureau of Gender Affairs, should be leading campaigns and interventions that deal with prevailing gender issues; teach the men to not be perpetrators of violence against women; teach citizens healthy relationship skills and management and tackle all factors that cause gender disparities: unemployment, wage gap etc at the national level. As women, we are tired of being a statistic! “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business” as Vision 2030 would have it, cannot be achieved without women.

No intervention, No vote

The tiredspiel“more women are enrolled in tertiary institutions than men, more and more women are being employed and Jamaica has the highest percentage of women managers globally” does not mean the gender imbalances are solved or that women are okay.

We should remember that Jamaica also holds the second highest femicide rate in the world as well as the highest in Latin America and the Caribbean in 2017.

Brand Jamaica: the land of wood, water and femicide — how jarring!

We need our minister to work with more alacrity at tackling gender stereotypes and the Gender portfolio given the same fervour as the Culture and Entertainment portions of the ministry. We feel neglected over here.

Jamaican women will remember this point in our history. We will remember how we never had the safe spaces we were promised. We will remember being told that we shouldn't provoke men. We will remember how we begged for solutions and didn't get them. We will remember feeling helpless as women died at the hands of abusers. We will remember how the country blamed us for our own deaths. And with the upcoming elections, we are inclined to say – No intervention no vote.

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