VAW NGO Forum – Jamaica

Green Hill Guest House near Section in the Blue Mountains.

The Forum for the Jamaican Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO), working towards the eradication and prevention of domestic violence, was held at the Knutsford Hotel,New Kingston, Jamaica, on November 7th ,2011

The Forum focused on strengthening the NGO sector and improving its ability to support and help victims of domestic violence.

Opening of Session:
The President of The NCDF, Ms. Carol Daniel welcomed participants and expressed her appreciation to the participants for their participation.

About NCDF

In a briefing about the Organization, Ms Daniel informed the meeting that she founded the NCDF (2007), after spending a decade in England. The main focus of the NCDF is the development of the NGO sector in the region and to facilitate the creation of work plans, campaign strategies, and the implementation of regional campaigns.  The Board of the foundation comprises four members:

  • President  & Founder:   Carol Daniel
  • Vice President: Witek Hebanowski
  • Corporate Secretary:    Sr. Mary Claire Zitman
  • Legal Director:  Alice Daniel

About the meeting

The main focus of the meeting was to obtain feedback from NGOs in Jamaica, on the recommendations coming out of the Violence against women Regional conference held in Trinidad in September 2010.

Ms. Daniel then introduced the Vice President of The NCDF, Mr. Witek Hebanowski To the Forum and announced that Mr. Hebanowski would be facilitating the Forum.

Mr. Hebanowski greeted the participants of the forum and then asked participants to introduce themselves and the organizations that they represented. (List of participants below)

A presentation was then given by Carol Daniel on the international agreements signed by CARICOM governments to eradicate violence against women in our societies. (View presentation)

Mr. Hebanowski then divided the participants into groups to consider the recommendations in the Cascadia document


Group Sessions


The Role of the Police

Sensitivity training for police

There should be ethical and sensitivity training for the Police in the ways in which they deal with victims of domestic violence

Creation/re installation of a training manual for police officers dealing with victims of domestic violence.

The Jamaica forum agreed with the above recommendations. The forum underscored that such training should be performed by the NGO sector targeting new police recruits.

The Jamaica forum outlined the current situation in Jamaica regarding sensitivity training for the police on the issue of domestic violence. The Jamaica forum noted that in 2007 the organization CAFRA conducted Training for trainers workshops for sensitivity training on domestic violence for the police. The Trainers received a manual that could be used by them in the future.

The Jamaica Forum also noted that The Ministry of National Security initiated an awareness campaign on domestic violence and the Bureau of Gender Affairs is in the process of developing a national strategy on gender based violence.

The Jamaica Forum recommended that Sensitivity training on the issue of domestic violence be included in the curriculum for new police recruits.

The Jamaica Forum recommended that the NGO sector and the Tertiary level institutions develop the curriculum for such training.

The Jamaica Forum also recommended refresher sensitivity training courses for existing officers

NGOs in the region working against domestic violence should be used by regional governments to provide such training to police units across the region. New police recruits, in particular should be targeted.

UWI as a tertiary level institute should also be used to provide training in some of the more sociological and psychological issues pertaining to domestic violence.

The Jamaica forum agreed with this recommendation.

Creation of domestic Violence Unit

Each Police station should have a domestic violence unit attached to it. This in itself is not new as the domestic violence acts of a number of islands already include this provision.

However across the region there has been some level of experimentation but, in many cases those experiments have been discontinued.

The forum recommends that this provision of many of the DV acts across the region be implemented on a full scale.

The Jamaica Forum agreed with the concept behind this recommendation. The Forum noted specific to Jamaica there was in existence a unit C.I.S.O.C.A.  (central investigation of sexual offences and child abuse) The forum therefore recommended that this unit be updated to function as a domestic violence unit. The forum felt the way forward was to use the CISOCA as a response team

Creation of sexual assault response team attached to domestic violence units

Each domestic violence unit should have attached to it a sexual assault response team that deal directly with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence. This team should include ER nurses that are specially trained to deal with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence

The Jamaica forum did not agree with this recommendation. The forum was of the view that the upgrade of   the CISOCA unit should encompass other professionals such as social workers act as a response team to domestic violence.

Police officers should be trained in interviewing children from domestic violence homes with the objective of gathering evidence.

The Jamaica Forum did not agree with this recommendation. The forum noted that the children’s protection act expressly forbids the questioning of children for the purpose of gathering evidence.

Victim support professionals should be attached to sexual assault units. These should include psychologists and other rape crisis experts and victim support groups

The Jamaica Forum did not agree with this recommendation. The forum did not see this as necessary in light of the currently existing unit (CISOCA) which they recommended should be upgraded to include professionals capable of dealing with victims of domestic violence.

Security of Shelters

The forum identified a number of incidences at shelters, where abusive spouses tracked their partners to shelters, and became violent once locating their spouse. There should be armed police presence at shelters, or shelters should be no trespassing zones monitored regularly by the police.

The Jamaica forum agreed that security was needed for the shelters, however they did not agree with that security being provided by the armed police. The forum suggested that an alternative to this would be private unarmed, non-uniformed security personnel. Private security firms could patrol as well as monitor the shelter.

The reason given for this recommendation by the Jamaica Forum was that the shelters try to maintain a non violent environment at the shelters. The presence of armed security personnel would violate this goal.

The forum felt that the secrecy surrounding the location of the shelter is an inbuilt security measure.

Psychological counselling for Police officers

There should be mandatory psychological counseling for Police officers attached to Domestic violence units.

The Jamaica Forum agreed with providing counseling for police officers. However they did not agree with it being mandatory. The Forum was of the view that it was enough to make the counseling available.

The Jamaica forum noted that currently the chaplaincy unit provides counselling services to Police officers.

Specific to Jamaica, the forum recommended formalizing and expanding the availability of counselling services to police officers provided by Counselors and psychologists hired by the police department.

The Jamaica Forum also recommended that Police officers should be psychologically evaluated as part of their yearly physical.

The Health Sector in the region and its ability to cope with domestic violence

The Forum recommends the establishment of a series of protocols for dealing with victims of domestic violence.

The Establishment of a relationship between Health Care workers, the police and social workers in the fight against domestic violence.

Where a suspected case of domestic violence enters the hospital the police and social worker should be alerted…

The Forum agreed with this recommendation. The Forum added that the protocol should be based on a supportive, non- judgmental frame work.

The Jamaica forum recommended that the victim support unit be integrated with the police and social workers..

There should also be special training to deal with persons living with disabilities.

Mandatory reporting of cases of suspected domestic violence and sexual violence to the police by the health sector.

The forum agreed with this recommendation; however they added that mandatory reporting should go both ways, the health sector to the police and the police to the health sector.

There should be the attachment of at least one forensic nurse to every emergency room, in every hospital. This should allow for collecting evidence as early as possible in the life of a case.

The Jamaica forum did not agree with this recommendation. The forum did not see this as feasible. However they recommended that initially there should be one forensic nurse per zone. Subsequently e.g within 5 years there could be one forensic nurse per hospital.

Emergency room attendants should be properly trained to accurately complete medical forms for injuries, sustained by suspected domestic violence and sexual violence victims.

The creation of a unified data collection process that will support analytical and sociological research on the issue of domestic violence in the region

The forum agreed with the necessity of the collection of data. However there was some discussion on how such data would be collected and the relevance of that data based on the method of collection.

Development of the field of forensic nursing in the region

The forum recommends that the field of forensic nursing should be developed as a specialized area of nursing in the region. Initiatives to develop this branch of nursing should take the form of government assisted tertiary level study for previously qualified nurses interested in specializing in this are of nursing

There should be the creation of an association of forensic nurses in the region, in an effort to regulate this specialized branch of nursing.

The Jamaica forum agreed with the development of the forensic nursing profession in the region

Mental Health sector and coping with domestic violence in the region.

The forum recommends mandatory counseling for perpetrators of domestic violence who have been served with restraining orders.

The Jamaica Forum agreed with this recommendation. The forum made an additional recommendation that suggested involving the Chaplin’s unit of the police force in the counselling of both the aggressors and the victims of domestic violence.

Training programs for health care workers should incorporate HIV/AID prevention awareness counseling for victims of domestic violence and sexual violence.

The Jamaica Forum agreed with this recommendation.

The Education sector – Coping with domestic violence in the region

The forum recommends domestic violence awareness programs that are age appropriate, targeting teenagers and young adults. These programs should attempt to make teenagers and young adults aware of what is considered appropriate and inappropriate behaviour in relationships

There should be the initiation of mentoring programs for young teenage boys in schools. These programs should promote appropriate sexual conduct and responsibility.

The Jamaica Forum agreed with the above recommendations. In addition to these recommendations they suggested that there should be domestic violence awareness raising programs at the primary school level for both girls and boys.

The Jamaica forum also recommended sensitivity training for the police in dealing with the issue of domestic violence as it pertains to persons with disabilities and other vulnerable members of society such as the elderly.

The Forum also recommended getting the media on board for a public education campaign on domestic violence.


The Groups presentations having been made Both the President and the Vice President of The NCDF thanked participants for their participation and the meeting was concluded

Participating NGOs

Jamaica Participants

St. Aloysius Primary School

Women’s Reach Out Centre

Children First

Kevoy Community Development Institute

Enfield Development Fund

Women’s Media Watch

Salvation Army

Hannah Town Citizens Association

Jamaica Society for the Blind

National Consumer League

Citizens Advice Bureau

Richmond Fellowship – Jamaica

Woman’s Inc.

The Women’s Centre

Jamaica Family Planning

Mona Baptist Help Ministry

Jamaican for Justice

Fathers Inc.

Combined Disability Association

Constant Springs Police



Kingston, Jamaica

Photo by Witek Hebanowski