Jamaican Economy Panel Discuss Violence Against Women and Children
30 November 2021
This month, the Jamaican Economy Panel (JEP) took the occasion of the 16 Days of Action against Gender-based Violence to discuss the pandemic of violence agains
Violence against women is a global phenomenon, but on the basis of a 2016 study, UN Women estimated that 28% of women in Jamaica suffer intimate partner violence, and 23% suffer sexual violence from a non-partner. UNICEF estimated that 85% of children encountered violent discipline at home, and many of this subset experienced other forms of domestic abuse.
The majority of panellists agreed that exposure to such types of violence at a young age is likely to encourage the culture of violence already present in Jamaican society, which high levels of gender-based violence may also follow. Regarding solutions to this problem, on the one hand, the panellists would pursue a range of punitive actions, such as stricter legislation and harsher punishment. On the other hand, the more peaceful solutions attracted even more support, especially regarding facilitating the reporting of violence by children and providing counselling and support to parents.
Concerning the reporting of violence, it is vital to highlight the new initiative called SafeSpot, which can provide support to children and teenagers suffering from violence or abuse.
Regarding the violence against women, there was a split amongst the respondents as to whether the labour market gender inequality was associated with higher levels of intra-household violence. In Jamaica, labour market inequality is substantial, with a 14 percentage-point gap in labour market participation and a 5 percentage-point gap in the unemployment rate.
To resolve the challenge of violence against women, community-based initiatives to reduce violence before it occurs attracted the most support. One avenue that the JEP panellists see as particularly fruitful is through education. When schools can foster a peaceful culture that is respectful towards women, this may (in the long run) reduce the existing culture of violence in Jamaica and reduce the occurrence of gender-based violence. The Spotlight Initiative is one of the initiatives supported by the United Nations that aims to reduce gender-based violence in Jamaica.
The full results of this month's discussion are available HERE.