In an effort to better protect individuals on the island, where many are hesitant to disclose incidents of domestic abuse to police, Jamaica’s government strengthened domestic violence legislation on January 22nd.
Reports show the penalty for disobeying a protection order has been raised from $65 to $6,450 and carries a possible term of up to one year in jail. Additionally, orders for protection now involve harassment and property damage.
These protection orders may be requested by the parent or spouse of the threatened individual or by social workers or children’s advocates if they are petitioning on behalf of the child.
Additional domestic abuse shelters will be opened around the island, a hotline will be expanded, and police will get specialized training.
The Jamaican Senate passed a measure with all these changes in late December.
Jamaica is home to over 2.8 million people, and authorities have reported that since the hotline went live in September, they have handled over 7,400 cases. Out of those instances, over 5,200 were reported by females and over 2,200 by men.
Research shows that four out of ten Jamaican women have been victims of intimate partner abuse, according to a recent government-sponsored health study.
According to research that the World Bank conducted, violence against women has enormous economic implications. Among them are the expenditures of medical care, the loss of income for women, the reduction in productivity, and the adverse effects that are felt throughout generations.
The government established the first nationwide shelter for victims of gender-based violence in the year 2020.
As per Caribbean news outlets, Jamaican government officials say that one may call the hotlines for assistance for victims of domestic abuse.
Call 876-553-0372 or 876-236-1713 for women who need assistance. The number for males to call for assistance is 876-553-0387.