25 Feb Take Action! PNP Women’s Movement urges citizens to take recommendations to Parliament to Strengthen laws that protect women and children
Jamaicans at home and abroad are being encouraged to ‘take action’ and to seize the opportunity to present their recommendations to parliament for legislative change in support of greater protection for the country’s women and children.
This call came out of a recent sitting of the PNP Women’s Movement at the People’s National Party (PNP) Headquarters on Old Hope Road on Sunday February 19, 2017. The session was organised to develop a comprehensive submission to the Joint Select Committee of Parliament that has been appointed to review the Sexual Offenses Act and the Child Care and Protection Act.
High on the list of recommendations to be submitted by the Women’s Movement are:
· Redefining the circumstances for rape of a married woman by her husband
· Increasing the age of consent from 16 to 18 with special consideration for circumstances involving 16-17 year olds
· Changes to the definition of ‘rape’ to include non-consensual penetration of any orifice of the body
President of the Women’s Movement, Jennifer Edwards, in her address during Sunday’s sitting, pointed to a recent UN Women report, citing that one in three Caribbean women will experience domestic/intimate partner violence in their lifetime. The report also highlights that 47.6% of girls and 31.9% percent of boys were forced into their first act of intercourse by a family member or family friend.
In addition, 30-50% of all murders in the region are related to intimate partner violence. She lamented the recent spate of heinous crimes involving the nation’s women and children but maintains that while it appears to have increased in recent times, the number of incidents have for a long time been unacceptably high.
Edwards further noted that the solutions to violence against women and children must go beyond public outcry.
“Protecting our women and children is not just about publicly condemning violence against them. It is important to raise awareness, but that is just the start. The marches, the media campaigns, the letters to the editor, they all have a place. The real solutions however, lie in our ability to influence effective change of policy and legislation, to actively support the police and the authorities in enforcement.”
“Every Jamaican should get actively involved with at least one social and behavioural change programme that will support long-term shift in attitudes towards women and especially girls” she said.
The Women’s Movement will make its final submission to the Joint Select Committee of Parliament on Monday, February 27, 2017, and calls on all citizens to work with their elected representatives and within their civil society groups, to submit their recommendations in writing before the deadline of February 28, 2017.