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Stand Against Rape – Jamaicans Urged To Join National Protest Condemning Abuse

Posted on Sep 27, 2012

Stand Against Rape – Jamaicans Urged To Join National Protest Condemning Abuse

Janet Silvera | Jamaica Gleaner WESTERN BUREAU: Some 15 organisations are to engage their leadership and members to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to violence, especially violence against women and girls. The group, which include a number of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), government agencies, political parties and the media, made the decision during a meeting chaired yesterday by Sandrea Falconer, minister with responsibility for information, at the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM). The meeting was spurred by Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller’s expression of outrage over the rape Monday night of five females, including an eight-year-old, who yesterday remained hospitalised in stable condition. All five, from one household, were brutally attacked and raped at gunpoint at their home in Irwin Point, St James. Coming out of yesterday’s meeting, the organisations all agreed to endorse a planned show-of-support protest action islandwide by Woman Inc tomorrow. This show of support will allow members of the public to express their outrage and condemnation of the continued attacks on mothers, sisters, daughters, nieces, nephews and brothers. PROTEST ACTION “The Government and Opposition encourage all well-thinking and progressive members of the public to join women’s organisations and wear black on Friday and, at 10 a.m., stand at public places across Jamaica, including Half-Way Tree Clock Tower, in this protest action,” stated a joint release issued by the OPM. The organisations urged persons unable to attend to still participate in the protest by observing two minutes of silence at 10 a.m. in their workplaces and in their homes. Falconer has directed the Bureau of Women’s Affairs to deliver a summary of recommendations from groups that work to promote gender harmony, and that also support women, for deliberation at a meeting to be held on October 11 at Jamaica House. Angry, disturbed and distressed by the rape, executive director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, Faith Webster, said: “We have to find a way to take back our country, and the mothers will have to start turning in their sons.” Condemning the atrocity, Webster said women and children at times are no longer safe to carry out their regular activities as they are subject to violence on a daily basis. She said: “This violence takes many forms: physical, emotional, sexual and psychological.” Another vocal advocate, Joyce Hewett, head of the public education and legal reform programme at Woman Inc, who was also in attendance at the meeting, said any long-term activity must have the ability to make an impact in changing the behaviour of the men who think it ok to go out and rape indiscriminately. BREAK THE SILENCE Like many in the country, Hewett said she was convinced that the time has come to inculcate a change of values in people who remain silent. “The mothers, the fathers, the entire family, they are usually aware that the young girls and boys are being abused; they need to start speaking,” she said. The Woman Inc public education officer said Jamaicans needed to come out of that mindset and start thinking in terms of protecting the island’s children. “As a show of unity, we are asking everybody to just stand up and be counted in terms of sexual violence, show what our position must be, which is zero tolerance,” she stated. She is convinced that the new combined effort of the private sector, NGOs and Government would work this time around, as the pressure will remain. “We have a unified approach.” Others persons and organisations in attendance were Opposition Spokesperson on Women and Gender Affairs Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange; the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child...

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Woman Inc wants end to domestic violence

Posted on Feb 27, 2012

Woman Inc wants end to domestic violence

Nadine Wilson | All Woman, Jamaica Observer AFTER more than 27 years of providing emergency shelter and counselling intervention for abused women, at least one executive member of WOMAN Inc is pleading with Jamaicans to put them out of business. Joyce Hewett, who is the immediate past president and co-ordinator for advocacy and legal reform at the organisation, hopes there will come a time in the near future when they won’t have to be admitting women who have been abused to the domestic violence shelter WOMAN Inc operates. “When I say put us out of business, I mean let us change the behaviour as a nation so that we no longer have these awful incidences of domestic violence and sexual violence and sexual assault and sexual molestation,” Hewett told All Woman recently. She said at the opening of the shelter in 1984, the general desire was to see a similar centre established in all of the other parishes, however, she said, that vision has changed and now she would much rather that they are redundant. “Unfortunately, we are nowhere near redundant; 27 years and still at it, just as relevant as we were when we looked at the situation in 1984 and said there was a dire need for social services in this country that address the needs of victims… because their lives were in danger from their intimate partners,” she said. WOMAN Inc is a private non-government organisation that provides assistance to victims of rape, incest, domestic violence and sexual harassment at the workplace. The organisation operates the only crisis shelter for women in the island, and a 24-hour counselling hotline where women can receive some level of intervention to cope with traumatic situations just by calling in. The crisis shelter has provided a safe haven for countless women over the years. Unfortunately, Hewett said they are unable to meet the demand that greets them annually from women needing help. Currently the shelter can only host eight women at one time, although sometimes they will end up accommodating 12. “We know it usually peaks around the Christmas holidays and also Easter which is another big holiday season. Many times you might have to turn a person away or find alternate accommodations for them because there is no room to put them,” she said. “We think that maybe a lot of it is because of the different demands that people have in terms of their own expectations; people are under stress. People are under economic stress and the degree of difficulty that people experience and the level of violence that is always kind of beneath the surface comes about when the added stress is on due to the different unmet demands and unmet expectations,” she surmised. Because it is an emergency shelter, women are generally allowed to stay for only two weeks so as to make space for others, however, each case is treated on its own merit and so a woman, based on her situation, could be allowed to stay for a longer period. “Sometimes the women need a long transitional period of up to a year, but the shelter that we provide is based on emergency temporary accommodation to bring the woman out of the situation before she is injured or killed,” Hewett said. Counselling is usually offered to the women, who at times have to seek shelter for their children as well as they flee their abusive homes. “More often than not the women come in the middle of the night; so the first thing she must do after she is made safe by the shelter...

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Suffering In Silence: Woman Inc To The Rescue

Posted on Feb 20, 2012

Suffering In Silence: Woman Inc To The Rescue

Latoya Grindley | Jamaica¬†Gleaner¬† The Crisis Shelter for women is operating on very meagre resources. The only institution in the island which provides a safe haven for women who have been victims of domestic violence can only accommodate eight women at a time. Operated by Woman Incorporated, the crisis shelter has had to reduce its initial occupancy level from 12. “We had to reduce because we had a shortage of space. I mean we were using bunk beds before but we just didn’t think that it was acceptable for women who were just coming out of traumatic situations to use and so we changed from those to create more space. Sometimes we will still try to squeeze in 10 at a time,” says Joyce Hewett, former president of Woman Inc. On average, the shelter accepts five women per month. They are granted an official stay of two weeks. “Sometimes we get victims who come in with their children, and while we say that they have a two-week period to stay, we treat each case on its own merit. We have cases, though, where someone stays for a five- to six-month period, but this certainly is not the norm,” says Hewett. The shelter is at a confidential location and while there, victims remain on a basis of anonymity and don’t share information with other victims. Additionally, the counsellors on the hotline are also anonymous. Getting the bulk of victims who stay at the shelter through the Crisis Shelter hotline, Hewett says because of constraints there are times when the shelter isn’t able to house all who have a dire need. The women, though, while still being privy to counselling are encouraged to seek other alternatives for escape. She notes that when calls are made, counsellors have to make an assessment of each case. “The women are often asked if there is anywhere else that they can go, like family and friends instead of the shelter. The shelter is a temporary emergency last resort.” According to Hewett, the shelter allows women to have an opportunity to have time away from their situation without having constant harassment. And once the women decide to go to the shelter, counselling is compulsory. “We never tell them what to do. They make their own decisions. We discuss what their options are, we will give information and promote dialogue. Some, when they leave still maintain contact with us but there are some who don’t.” Never return Hewett, who has been with Woman Inc for 25 years, notes that there are women who never return to the abusive relationship. But, unfortunately, some do. “I try to tell young women not to get in dependent situations. Abuse doesn’t get better, it will get worst. That is why you hear so much about murder and murder-suicide.” She referred to the chronic state of abuse in which women may find themselves. “After, say four to five beatings, the woman is in another state of mind. She now develops real fear and tries to do things to make sure abuse doesn’t happen again.” When a woman reaches such a chronic state, she is more than likely suffering from the battered woman syndrome. “They reach a state of total helplessness and can’t function effectively. They just go through the motions; sometimes their eyes are just so empty, having gone through so much abuse.” With no impartiality, domestic violence affects many women despite their place in society. However, since her affiliation with the organisation, Hewett says that most of the victims who the shelter receives are predominantly from the middle and low socio-economic...

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Hope for abused women

Posted on Mar 15, 2010

Donna Hussey-Whyte | All Women, Jamaica Observer THERE is hope for abused women who can benefit from counselling or through the services of the domestic violence shelter operated by WOMAN Inc. WOMAN Inc is a private, charitable, non-profit organisation that has been operating in Jamaica since 1984. The organisation, which has the only domestic violence shelter in Jamaica, also offers counselling services to women who have been raped, are victims of incest, domestic violence and victims of sexual harassment at the workplace. Joyce Hewett, WOMAN Inc past president and co-ordinator for public education and legal reform, said the main aim of the group is to provide help for victims of domestic violence as well as rape and incest. “With regards to incest, we don’t serve those under 18, however, women over 18 — 25, 30, 40, 50 — who have been sexually molested and sexually assaulted as children, oftentimes carry the burden throughout their lives unless there is intervention. So that is why we have included incest, because many times people can be working, women in particular, and have difficulty coping and that could be as a result of something that happened earlier in their childhood, such as incest,” Hewett said. “So we have included that in the counselling sessions.” Counselling at the centre is free. In addition to the in-house counselling sessions, there is a 24-hour hotline for women needing help. “Everybody is anonymous,” Hewett explained. “So all the women are called ‘Auntie May’ and the men ‘Uncle Joe’ so that the persons on the other end of the phone don’t know who they are talking to.” The hotline is monitored by 40 trained volunteers, supervised by a head counsellor. WOMAN Inc was born in 1984 as a non-government organisation, following a trade fair first formulated in the Bahamas by an organisation known as WOMAN. Through the trade fair money was raised to assist abused women and the idea was quickly brought to Jamaica. The idea kicked off in Jamaica with two women — Angela Jones and Carol Guntley — who recruited four women who then pulled 12 women together and started the first Woman’s Trade Fair in Jamaica. The sole purpose was to open a crisis centre and ultimately a crisis shelter. By 1991 the trade fair had become so successful that persons would come from other parishes to be enriched, Hewett said. It was also in 1991 that the organisation decided to extend its services to assist young women, who, at the age of 18, had to leave home without a skill and would sometimes find themselves in difficult situations which many times led to domestic violence, or situations that would not empower them. Thus the idea of a hostel with a skills training centre was formed. This accommodated 18 young girls per year, who were trained and taught how to be productive citizens. But over time, all this became a strain. “Unfortunately though, time has gone on and we have not been able to have the trade fair every year,” Hewett explained. “Because of the economic hardships in the late 80s and early 90s, along with the devaluation of the Jamaican dollar [we had to cut back].” In 1995 a decision had to be made whether to keep the hostel going, or close the doors of the crisis centre. “Needless to say we had to back up and go back to basics,” Hewett said. “Money was becoming more of an issue and by 1998 we had to close down the hostel skills training altogether and remain with the core of the crisis centre — the...

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Woman’s Inc Services in demand

Posted on Nov 8, 2004

Sophia Findlay Laidley | Jamaica Observer President of Woman Inc Dundeen Ferguson last week stressed the importance of her organisation in meeting women’s need while making an appeal for public support of their annual trade fair which will raise funds for the group. “So far, between January and July 2004, 2,585 persons have called our Hot Line for help. Our organization works hard to help those survivors of violence and families in crisis and that is why your presence here and your participation are important and appreciated,” Ferguson said at the launch of Woman’s Inc 20th Anniversary celebrations and 2004 Trade Fair and Exhibition last Wednesday at the Hilton Kingston Hotel. “Each and everyone here has heard of or know either the physical, sexual or psychological violence that have been meted out to women or girls in the communities.” The organisation has a 24-hour hotline for women, young girls and families in crisis which provides counseling services and a safe haven survivors of violence and abuse. It also raises public awareness through public education programmes and lobbies for legislative changes through the collaborative efforts of other women’s groups, community based organizations and the private and public sectors. The activities for the Trade Fair will also include a seminar titled: ‘Take Charge of Your Life- A process for working on your assets’, slated for November 26. That event, along with the annual trade fair and exhibition is scheduled for November 27 and 28, at the Hilton Kingston...

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