Shelter for abused women now accepting clients

Shelter for abused women now accepting clients

Friday, November 27, 2020

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The first of three properties being transformed into shelters for women in abusive relationships is now ready to accept clients.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia “Babsy” Grange made the announcement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday.

“I have spoken many times about the Government's commitment to establish the national shelters — and we have been working hard to get this done,” Grange said on the eve of the worldwide celebration of the United Nations' designated International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls and the start of the UN's “16 Days of Activism” towards ending the violence.

The three properties were purchased with the support of the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service, Grange said as she urged male Members of Parliament in the House of Representatives to demonstrate their commitment to ending the violence by wearing a purple ribbon for the 16 days of activism, which ends on December 10.

She said that the first property, after significant refurbishing and reconstruction, has been transformed into a safe and comfortable facility for women who are victims of domestic abuse, and their children. The minister said the facility is now ready to accept clients, while the ministry continues to receive donations to make it more comfortable and to build out its programme to assist women to rebuild their lives and get back on their feet.

She also used the opportunity to release the ministry's 24-hour hot line numbers — 876-553-0372 and 876-929-2997 — for women who need shelter.

The other two properties, Grange said, are now in the early stages of reconstruction and/or refurbishing, and will be transformed, as quickly as possible, into safe spaces for women.

She stated that her ministry is aware that several women stay in abusive relationships because they are financially dependent on their partner. She said that this is why the ministry has created the women's economic independence programme, as a priority.

“Through this programme, we want to equip them with the skills and other resources to run successful businesses. In this regard, we will use the commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women to discuss and support women's economic independence. Our local theme for the commemoration is, 'The Empowered Woman: From Victim to Survivor',” she noted.

She said that the country has to move the issue of domestic violence from something people say in hushed tones to the front pages.

“And that is why we will be moving into phase two of our multimedia campaign, 'No Excuse for Abuse', with stronger, in-your-face messaging designed to get people to stop turning a blind eye to the domestic violence that they know is happening next door, and to do something to end it,” she said.

Grange pointed out that the men, who will be their key allies, must take a stand against domestic violence.

“They must intervene, say something, do something to their friend who is abusing his wife or girlfriend,” she said.

The minister also addressed the issue of the killing of an 81-year-old woman and her two pre-teen granddaughters in the Tryall Heights community of Spanish Town, St Catherine, on Sunday. She said that incidents like that often cause distress and despair in the country.

“But we must not retreat, and we cannot surrender, and we cannot give in to the gunmen,” she told the House.

— Balford Henry


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