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Full document in PDF 

Consultant: Barbara Bailey



  • A study carried out by A. Harriott shows that the homicide rate in Jamaica is four times higher than the world rate, with the city of Kingston having the highest rate in the world at 109/100,000, followed by Washington D.C., at 67/100,000. According to this researcher, there is a direct relationship between the rate of murder and the rates of other violent crimes-robberies, rapes, etc. In Jamaica, historically, most murders were crimes of passion. In 1963, in 64% of the murder cases, the victims were known to the offender, and domestic violence accounted for 28% of all homicides, while in 1993, this declined to 16%. This does not mean that cases of domestic violence are on the decline, it means that the murder rate - especially since the increase in the number of illegal guns on the island - is going up.

- In keeping with the data above, statistics from the Jamaica police Sexual Offense Unit indicate that, in 1997, 1,857 cases of sexual offenses were filed, of which 40% involved rape and bodily harm, along with 97 cases of incest, 56 assaults with intent to rape, and 29 cases of attempted rape. Between January 1 and November 15, 1998, 760 cases of rape and 455 of physical abuse were reported.

- It was not until 1998 that Jamaican police began to break down homicide statistics by sex. That year, 92 women and 18 children were reported murdered. It is assumed that a significant proportion of these deaths took place within the context of domestic violence.

- Data on attention to persons affected by gender-based violence at the Kingston Crisis Center indicate that in 1998, 3,844 people were assisted for the following types of assault:

- Rape 109

- Incest 58

- Domestic violence 1,037

- Domestic crisis 1,510

- Request for shelter 48

- Reoccurrence 25

- Other 1,057

- In general, statistics indicate that reports of violent crimes against women are on the rise, which may be due to greater information on where to turn for help. Even so, this situation is alarming.

- Data provided by the Emergency Unit of the Kingston Public Hospital indicates that everyday approximately 20 women are treated on an outpatient basis for wounds requiring stitches, and that 90% of these situation are the result of domestic violence.


Specific Jamaican judicial instruments for protection of persons affected by gender-based violence and punishment of offenders are the following:

- The Matrimonial Causes Act. Act 2 of 1989

- The Domestic Violence Act, Act 15 de 1995

- The Offenses Against the Person Act

Government Response

To protect the female population from the impact and aftereffects of gender violence, Jamaica has the following policy instruments and institutional implementation mechanisms:

  • The National Policy Statement on Women, approved by the Government Cabinet in 1987, whose objectives include the following: "Recognizing that evidence physical and sexual abuse within families and societies is increasing, the Government will pursue means of providing adequate protection and means of redress to women and children who are victims of family violence, incest, rape and sexual harassment".
  • The Women's Affairs Office, attached to the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare, is responsible for carrying out gender policies, including those on domestic violence. During recent years the office has been involved in training judicial personnel.

Through its Child Guidance Unit, the Ministry of Education carries out two programs for the prevention of violence. The first is called "Peace and Love in Schools" (conflict resolution techniques) and the second is the project, "Change From Within" (development of self-esteem in students and in school personnel in order to promote healthy relations in the school community.)

 Response by Civil Society

There is a wide variety of NGOs in the country that work with the different populations affected by gender violence. One of the most important is the Association of Women's Organizations in Jamaica (AWOJA), an umbrella organization that brings together approximately 30 member groups and 30 individual members.

Fifty-four percent of the AWOJA members attend an average of 100 to 550 people each year; 29% provide services for 1,000 to 3,000 persons and 16% attend more than 10,000 people a year.

There are also organizations that specialize in services for children, such as the Big Sister Movement, Children's Lobby, Fathers Inc, etc., and agencies working with the adolescent population, such as Women's Centre, Teens in Action, etc.

State Services

- The Ministry of Health has a clinic at the West Indies University Hospital that specializes in counseling for children affected by physical violence and sexual abuse. The Comprehensive Health Clinic also provides attention and guidance for the child population.

- The national police force has a specialized Rape Unit and a Mediation Unit. Junior police clubs also work in this area.


  • Some of the most important are the Woman Inc. crisis centers

- Also mentioned is a broad range of programs and services carried out by NGOs in training, advising, attention to people, etc. Top of Page


UNDP Against Violence Home Page

For more information, please contact Aparna Mehrotra, Focal Point for Women, Tel: (212)963-6828 Fax: (212) 963-9545, e-mail: mehrotra@un.org

Management and direction: Aparna Mehrotra
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: Lola Salas
Writing, editing& proofing: Aparna Mehrotra, Dana Burde, Rini Banerjee and Tanaz Pardiwala
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(detail) from folder by Isis International