And 70% of rape victims in Jamaica are under the age of consent. Amnesty International has published a new report on sexual violence against women and children in Jamaica. “Just a Little Sex” is the result of research concluded in 2005 on sexual violent and highlights that the justice system in Jamaica fails to adequately deal with sexual violence.
“In one account, one woman who was abducted from her workplace and gang-raped at gunpoint said, “The lawyer made me feel like a slut in court. He tried to convince the court that I was guilty for them doing such a terrible thing to me”.” From Jamaica Observer
Sadly, a senior magistrate, Lorna Errar Gayle, has recently suggested the re-introduction of chastity belts – effectively continuing to blame the victims for not preventing the crimes committed against them – after being faced with a rising number of cases of sexual offences including child sexual abuse and exploitation. The same magistrate has also complained about the number of violent crimes against women coming to court
“Shortcomings in national legislation do not deal adequately with marital rape, incest or sexual harassment, thereby encouraging impunity and leaving women without the protection of the law,” Amnesty said. “Discrimination is entrenched and often exacerbated in the police and criminal justice system. Women and adolescent girls are rarely believed by the police, so have little confidence in reporting crimes against them. Evidence is often not sought effectively or professionally, and witnesses are rarely protected. In court, women’s testimony is explicitly given less weight than men’s, thereby depriving women of the right to equality before the law.” From Jamaica Observer
The statistics on sexual violence in Jamaica are grim reading. According to their own Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), (and therefore underestimates because Police disbelieve complainants) there were:
* 1,389 sexual offences of which 82 per cent were committed against women (707 rape cases, 11 attempted rape cases and 433 cases of carnal abuse).
* Sexual assaults are listed as the second most common cause of injury in Jamaican women.
* 70 per cent of all sexual assaults in Jamaica in 2004 being reported against girls.