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March 3, 2024

Jamaica – The Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act 2023.

As some of you will know, Jamaica is a place that is very close to my heart, being my late husband’s heritage and somewhere I have travelled to and stayed many times with my mother in law.

I have long been aware that the prevalence of domestic abuse on the island is very high. The results of the first national survey on gender based violence in Jamaica in 2018, shows a prevalence rate of 27.8%, with in every 4 women in Jamaica, experiencing intimate partner violence in their lifetime. But as in the UK, I suspect the number to be far higher.

The Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act, 2023, came into effect on January 22nd 2024. This amendment will allow the court to issue Protection Orders to victims of domestic abuse and violence and impose a penalty of up to $1 million Jamaican Dollars (approx £5,000) for a breach of a Protection Order and a sentence of up to one year. Previously it was up to a maximum of $10,000 Jamaican Dollars (approx £50), and a sentence of up to 6 months in prison.

The new law also increases the categories of people who can make an application for a Protection Order, including a spose or parent of a person of whom the conduct has been made.

‘The Children’s Advocate’ will also now be able to make an application for a Protection Order where the victim of abuse is a child.

The amended legislation will allow the Minister for Gender Affairs to be flexible around amending monetary penalties.

The Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment & Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, stated;

“Let the word go from here that we are serious about dealing with domestic abuse. A new day has come for protecting victims and increasing the punishment for perpetrators of domestic abuse”.

“There is no excuse for abuse, and we can end the abuse. The amendment of our legislation is part of our effort to end the abuse. We continue to improve our services to victims, punish perpetrators and review our laws to create effective deterrents to would-be perpetrators. In this regard, I look forward to the deliberations of the Joint Select Committee that will review the Domestic Violence Act towards strengthening the protection of victims and dealing with perpetrators”.

There is still so much to do in Jamaica to bring the country into line with other countries such as our own. I will be watching closely to see how Jamaica get on enforcing these orders and bringing perpetrators to justice. But I am thrilled that they are enacting these laws.

Domestic abuse and violence is not inevitable. It doesn’t have to happen. Everything we can do to raise awareness of this, wherever we live in the world, the better.

  • I first met Sharon back in 2000 when I went into a refuge she worked in after fleeing a violent relationship. I had two babies and virtually just a bag of clothes and a few toys with us. She helped me with appointments with the police, solicitors and..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I was fortunate enough to meet and work with Sharon when she was the Advocacy Manager at Woman’s Trust and I was working for Westminster City Council. During this time Sharon developed and managed the Independent Domestic Violence Advocacy Service..

    Ainslie O’Connor – Principal Advisor for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet – Adelaide, Australia.
  • Thank you so much for all the support you have given me. You really have been amazing, and to be honest, I wouldn’t have been able to cope with Child Protection without you. The amount of strength you have given me is totally priceless, even with..

    A survivor of domestic abuse.
  • I knew Sharon as a work colleague over ten years ago. At the time, she was supporting vulnerable people, some of them were homeless due to domestic abuse and substance misuse. For me, assisting such people was what anyone in her role would be expect..

    Ted Chanza, Head of Market Operations, Airtel Malawi Ltd, Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa.
  • I have known Sharon for 6 years and have had the pleasure of working alongside her when I chaired the Westminster MARAC. Sharon is a committed, empathetic supporter of women who are or have experienced domestic abuse. She regularly goes the extra m..

    Former Chair of The Westminster MARAC.
  • I was fortunate to have had Sharon as my support worker after 17 years of domestic violence and 4 children that had witnessed and gone through it with me. I was finally strong enough to stand up and protect myself and my children. Without Sharon’s ..

    A survivor of domestic violence.
  • Without the support and constant reassurance of Sharon, I know for a fact that I wouldn’t be where I am today. I am forever grateful to her. She is extremely dedicated and knowledgeable, having her on my side when dealing with someone as persistent..

    Anonymous survivor of Domestic Abuse.
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