Sexual Harassment Bill to be Tabled by Year End

Honourable Olivia Grange
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Jamaica News: The Government is moving with alacrity to have the Sexual Harassment Bill tabled in Parliament and has given assurance that it will be done by year end.

Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Minister, Hon. Olivia Grange, says the Bill, “with all the revisions that were recommended by Cabinet, is ready to be signed off on”.

The Minister was speaking at a Caribbean Media and Gender Forum hosted by Women’s Media Watch (WMW) Jamaica at the Caribbean School of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), University of the West Indies, on September 26.

“It will now go to the Subcommittee of Cabinet that deals with legislation, and then it will be sent with a report back to Cabinet for approval. It will be tabled in the House this quarter,” Miss Grange said.

The Minister noted that the Bill contains recommendations from Cabinet for the establishment of a Sexual Harassment Tribunal to hear all sexual-harassment matters.

She said Field Officers from the Bureau of Gender Affairs will be conducting investigations to address reports that have been filed.

Ms. Grange, who acknowledged that the link between gender and violence is a complex one, requiring a coordinated approach, said Cabinet last year approved the National Strategic Action Plan to eliminate gender-based violence (GBV).

The 10-year plan, which was officially launched in December 2017, sets out a programme to be implemented across government, and with specific targets towards eliminating the crime.

It focuses on five strategic priority areas – prevention, protection, intervention, legal procedures and protocols for data collection.

“The Ministry will now roll out a national public education campaign on gender-based violence (next month) to target different groups, with a special focus being placed on men and boys, youth and millennials,” she said.

Ms. Grange explained that the campaign will educate citizens about the “consequences of GBV, dispel negative myths that normalise GBV, address different forms of GBV and critically engage men in eliminating GBV, as statistics show they are perpetrators of it”.

“The best way to end violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place by addressing its root and structural causes. It also requires that we work collaboratively to change the narrative,” she said.

“This includes conducting rigorous gender analyses to assess policies and programmes to ensure gender balance. We will need to take a closer look at media and its representation of women and girls and make a concerted effort to adopt professional guidelines to reduce gender discrimination,” Ms. Grange added.

The Minister commended the WMW Jamaica for staging the event.

Meanwhile, Executive Director of WMW Jamaica, Patricia Donald Phillips, explained that the forum, funded by Women’s World Day of Prayer, a global ecumenical movement led by Christian women, is an important and timely one.

“This event is coming out of a regional project on gender equality in the media. We are seeking to influence media houses throughout the region, so that they will recognise that humanity is woman and man… so that when situations of violence are being reported on, it is done with heart and that there is a background to it,” she said.

The forum, held under the theme ‘The Impact of Media Reporting on Violence against Women in the Caribbean’, was aimed at implementing gender-focused monitoring as well as some analysis and advocacy activities.

Barbados and Suriname are partners with WMW Jamaica in its Caribbean-wide thrust against gender violence.


Source: JIS News

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