Update to JAM41517.E of 2 May 2003, domestic violence, including police response to complaints (May 2003-2004) [JAM42715.E]

In a 12 May 2004 telephone interview, a representative for Woman Inc., an NGO founded in 1984 to assist women victims of rape, incest, sexual harassment, and domestic violence, mentioned that the incidence of reported domestic violence cases has been roughly the same during the period of May 2003 to May 2004. With regard to police response, the representative noted that Woman Inc. has been providing domestic violence sensitization workshops and training to the police since the year 2000. The representative also pointed out that by 2004 gender sensitivity training had already been incorporated within the police cadet curriculum.

According to police statistics that appeared in a March 2004 news article, domestic violence was the second leading cause of homicide from 1997 to 2002, accounting for 29 per cent or 1,401 of all murders reported (Jamaica Gleaner 14 Mar. 2004). While the Kingston-based newspaper Jamaica Gleaner noted that from January to July 2003 the number of major crimes such as murder, shooting, rape and carnal abuse had increased compared to numbers for the same time period in 2002 (4 Aug. 2003), the Latin American Security and Strategic Review reported that there had been only a two per cent increase in the number of murders during that time period (Aug. 2003). Nevertheless, domestic violence ending in murder did account for 22.3 per cent or 122 of the 547 reported homicides during the seven-month period (Jamaica Gleaner 4 Aug. 2003; Latin American Security and Strategic Review Aug. 2003).

Crime statistics from the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) Website indicated that there were a total of 244 sexual offences reported during the period of 5 January to 9 May 2004 (Jamaica 2004). The Website also contains information about the Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA), established within the JCF's Community Relations Branch on 1 December 1989 (ibid. n.d). From 1990 to 1998, the CISOCA increased the number of its offices across the country by six; the Website lists their locations and telephone numbers (ibid.).

According to Country Reports 2003, violence against women was pervasive, yet, statistics on violence against women varied widely as many women were hesitant to report abuse (25 Feb. 2004). With regard to rape, while NGOs emphasized that a large number of rapes were not reported, recorded incidents apparently increased by two per cent in 2003. Country Reports 2003 also followed two incidents in January and March 2003 that demonstrated the challenges faced by women who report domestic violence, and recourse available to victims of domestic violence (ibid.).

In a March 2004 news article, the executive director of the national government's Bureau of Women's Affairs, Glenda Simms, stated that in 2003, the Women's Crisis Centre, the only NGO that provides shelter to battered women victims in Jamaica, handled 698 domestic violence cases, 177 rape cases, 110 incest cases, and "548 cases of 'domestic crisis'" (Jamaica Gleaner 28 Mar. 2004). Executive Director Simms also indicated that Jamaica has made significant efforts to address domestic violence, noting the enactment of legislation, the creation of Sexual Abuse Units in a number of police stations and gender-based violence sensitivity instruction for police officers (ibid.). Despite these initiatives, Executive Director Simms, citing an example of a woman named Patsy Parkinson who was brutally murdered by her husband while neighbours and community members did nothing to intervene, stated that

[i]f women such as Patsy Parkinson seek political asylum in the U.S., Britain or Australia, they should be supported in their bid because the Jamaican state is not able to provide the full range of services such as shelters, counselling, relocation and therapies that are needed to protect women who are victims of gender-based violence (ibid.).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. "Jamaica." United States, Department of State. Washington DC. http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2003/27904pf.htm [Accessed 11 May 2004]

Jamaica. 2004. Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). "Crime Statistics." http://www.jamaicapolice.org.jm/crime_statistics.html [Accessed 13 May 2004]

____. n.d. Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF). "The Centre for Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse (CISOCA)." http://www.jamaicapolice.org.jm/rape_unit.html [Accessed 13 May 2004]

Jamaica Gleaner [Kingston]. 28 March 2004. Glenda Simms. "Seeking Political Asylum." http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20040328/focus/focus2.html [Accessed 11 May 2004]

____. 14 March 2004. Leonardo Blair. "Domestic Violence, Drugs, Gangs Top Murder Motives." http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20040314/lead/lead6.html [Accessed 11 May 2004]

____. 4 August 2003. Glenroy Sinclair. "Major Crimes on the Increase." http://jamaica-gleaner.com/gleaner/20030804/lead/lead3.html [Accessed 21 May 2004]

Latin American Security & Strategic Review [London]. August 2003. "Jamaica: Perceptions vs Fact On Murder Rate." http://www.latinnews.com/lss/LSS2308.asp?instance=15&mode=print [Accessed 11 May 2004]

Woman Inc., Kingston, Jamaica. 12 May 2004. Telephone interview with representative.

Additional Sources Consulted

Internet sites: Amnesty International, Freedom House, Human Rights Internet, Human Rights Watch, Immigration and Nationality Directorate (IND) United Kingdom, Inter-American Commission of Women, Jamaica - Information Service, Justice Studies Center of the Americas, Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defence of Women's Rights (CLADEM), United Nations Women Watch, World News Connection/Dialog.