Photo: Thompson Reuters Foundation. Women protesting domestic violence, which has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 epidemic with families having to stay home.

It was only after Tanya’s partner burned her clothes that she decided to go to the police, and from then on the beatings stopped, reported the Thompson Reuters Foundation in a recent article.

“One officer… said to him, if he lays a finger on me again, he’s not going to come for him in a police uniform, he’s going to come for him on his own time,” said the 31-year-old mother-of-two.

“It was the warning that opened his eyes.”

Tanya, who chose to stay with her partner, now works as a counselor and mentor for an NGO for victims of gender-based violence called Eve for Life.

She received support from the organization herself, but said women had few places to turn in the case of an immediate crisis.

“I pray to God that the government truly look into themselves and see that there is a desperate need for these safe houses to save some of these ladies and their children’s lives,” Tanya said.

In Jamaica, as in other countries, COVID-19 has led to an increase in domestic violence reports as women and girls were stuck in the house with their abusers and the government pledged to build three planned shelters, which required an investment of 120 million Jamaican dollars (about US$800,000), with a total of 19 family rooms, special areas for counseling, dining rooms and children’s play areas.

Now work on the buildings for those three national shelters for abused women is completed, said Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Hon. Olivia Grange, speaking with JIS News on Sunday, and they will be operational shortly.

Grange also said that the Government will be signing an agreement with “an international agency” to obtain grant funding to run the facilities.

“I have now received the keys for all three properties,” she said, noting that the Ministry is looking forward to having the shelters up and running and serving women across Jamaica.

The shelters form part of the Government’s efforts to provide support to women and children impacted by gender-based violence, as well as other forms of abuse.

Grange also told JIS News that funds have been secured to assist entertainers and athletes, who have been negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, which will be rolled out soon.

She said plans to host international sporting events will be expedited as part of the recovery effort, working in tandem with the Tourism Ministry.