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A “PANDEMIC that affects one in three women in their lifetime”. That’s how the World Bank defines gender-based violence.

Taking a closer look home, the Jamaica Women’s Health Survey (JWHS) 2016 revealed that more than one in every four women in the country has experienced intimate- partner physical and sexual violence in their lifetime. Too many of our women are suffering in silence or crippled by fear to walk away from what the UN Women defines as “harmful acts directed at an individual or a group of individuals based on their gender … rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms”. It is high time everyone – government, institutions, individuals – expedite the implementation of solutions that have been repeatedly identified by research to end this other pandemic.

So, what’s the fuss about highlighting the plight of females in these situations as a public health issue? Although men and boys are affected by gender-based violence, women and girls are disproportionately affected. In a recent Fact Sheet, the World Health Organization (WHO) noted that 30 per cent of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual violence by an intimate partner, or non-partner sexual violence, or both; and as many as 38 per cent of murders of women are committed by an intimate partner. The women affected by these events may have long- or short-term physical and mental health problems, which may require treatment or cause death. That’s one reason gender-based violence, specifically violence against women, is considered a major public health concern.

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