Jamaica enacts legal crackdown on domestic violence

Jamaica adopted Monday stronger domestic violence laws as the government aims to better protect victims on the island where people are reluctant to report such cases to authorities.

Protection orders now include harassment and property damage, and the penalty for violating a protection order has increased from $65 to $6,450 and a potential sentence of up to one year in prison.

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The spouse or parent of a person being threatened, as well as social workers and children’s advocates if they’re filing an order on behalf of a child, can now request such orders.

Jamaican flag

The Jamaican flag is seen flying over the U.K.’s Raydale Park. (Photo by Ross MacDonald/SNS Group via Getty Images)

All these amendments were included in a bill approved by Jamaica’s Senate in late December.

The government also plans to expand a hotline, open more domestic violence shelters across the island and provide special training to police.

Officials said that the hotline, which began operating in September, has dealt with more than 7,400 cases on the island of 2.8 million people. Of those cases, more than 5,200 were from females and more than 2,200 from males.

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The government said a recent health survey found that four in 10 women in Jamaica “experience some form of intimate partner violence.”

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