One in four women in Jamaica has been physically abused by a male partner, and one in five has reported being sexually abused before reaching 18 years old.
These are just some of the findings of the Women’s Health Survey 2016, which was launched yesterday at the Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in St Andrew. The survey provides a comprehensive look at the nature and prevalence of violence against women and girls in Jamaica and is expected to guide policies to tackle the issue.
The survey shows that women have experienced acts of violence such as being kicked, slapped, choked, and burned by their male partners, but it also highlights the fact that 23 per cent of Jamaican women have been sexually abused by men other than their partners.
Gender Affairs Minister Olivia Grange noted that the findings did not make for good reading, but she hoped that it would be a call to action to end gender-based violence.
“It is a sad situation. The anecdotal evidence has always suggested that we in Jamaica have a serious problem with gender-based violence, but the findings, which are based on interviews with women across the length and breadth of this island, give us insight, as we have never had before, into the extent of the problem,” Grange said.
The survey was a collaborative effort with input from the Inter-Development Bank (IDB), the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, and UN Women. Modernisation of the state specialist at the IDB Camila Mejia Giraldo said that the survey had been in the making for several years.
“Our hope is that the survey results will allow for a more nuanced analysis of violence against women and provide an important baseline that will serve as a point of comparison for future surveys and will allow researchers, policymakers, and service providers to understand trends and patterns in intimate partner violence as well as the impact of policies and programmes on affected populations over time,” said Mejia Giraldo.
This piece was originally published on June 22, 2018 in The Jamaica Gleaner by Nadine Wilson-Harris