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  • Violence Prevention Alliance

Jamaicans Don’t Know GBV Laws and Protections, WMW Jamaica Study Reveals

Ruth Howard, Programme Manager, WMW Jamaica

A baseline data collection survey conducted by WMW Jamaica has shown that most Jamaicans are not aware of the legislation available to protect persons from gender-based violence.

Ruth Howard, programme manager for WMW Jamaica’s ‘WE-Talk for the Reduction of Gender-Based Violence’ project, made the disclosure of the findings at a recent Violence Prevention Alliance (VPA) Steering Committee meeting. She made the presentation jointly with WE-Talk monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning manager, Helen Atkins.

“Less than one in 10 men and one in five women demonstrated knowledge of protective legislation for survivors of gender-based violence. People don’t know what exists to protect them from gender-based violence, they do not at all understand the laws and how they should be applied, and how they should access them,” Miss Howard said, adding that WMW Jamaica would focus on addressing these gaps through the project.

Survey data also showed evidence of misconceptions and gaps in knowledge among respondents of all ages about what constitutes domestic violence; the root causes of domestic violence; mechanisms designed to uphold the right to live free from violence such as the Domestic Violence Act, protection orders and occupation orders; and the legal consequences of committing an act of domestic violence. These are gaps which the WE-Talk project will try to address, Miss Howard noted.

“These findings point to a clear need for public education,” she said. “People need to be taught about their right to be safe from all forms of GBV. It’s concerning that so many people do not know what to do and where to go to get help if they witness or experience GBV.”

Noting that the baseline findings will be used to guide project implementation, Miss Howard revealed that even though the survey was administered in seven parishes – Kingston & St Andrew, Clarendon, St James, St Mary, St Ann, Manchester and St Catherine - it captured the perspectives of people from all 14 parishes. More than 500 persons were interviewed, including young adults and the elderly.

WE-Talk is a five-year project funded by Global Affairs Canada and managed by Oxfam Canada. Its goal is to change social norms and reduce gender-based violence through research, stakeholder engagement, behaviour change communication, and capacity building. The project is being implemented by two Jamaican organisations: WMW Jamaica and CARIMAN Jamaica. WMW Jamaica will primarily target women, girls and youth; while CARIMAN will focus specifically on men and boys.

The WE-Talk project will also focus on identifying and addressing unequal power relations, systemic discrimination, harmful norms and myths that negatively affect women, girls, boys and men. The project will address these by increasing community and individual awareness of pervasive harmful beliefs and practices that lead to GBV, and increase the engagement and ability of targeted community members including influencers to become champions of change. It also aims to increase the capacity of civil society organisations, women’s rights organisations, and youth organisations to coordinate/promote social norms change, strengthen the actions and commitments of duty bearers to address GBV and to provide quality services for survivors.

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