Jamaicans hope to ease grip of violence by ending gender stereotypes

lunes 7 de marzo de 2016 09:39 GYT

By Rebekah Kebede

KINGSTON, March 7 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Be tough. Don't have feelings. Be a man and fight!

Such are the messages drilled into Jamaican boys at an early age that have helped push the island nation's murder rate up 20 percent last year to a five-year high, according to a campaign trying to stem the violence by fighting gender stereotypes.

The campaign, the Next GENDERation Initiative, aims to reach and teach young people living in the nation that is gripped by violent crime that has frustrated its economic development.

Nearly everyone charged with violent crime in Jamaica is male, one in five women have experienced violence by a partner and one in three children has witnessed severe acts of brutality, the campaign says.

Hoping to dispel gender stereotypes that propel and perpetuate violence, the partnership of the government, international organizations and community groups has assembled resources with such items as educational videos and role-play scripts for common scenarios.

The materials were released this year to be integrated into the curriculum of the nation's secondary schools, while an accompanying public education campaign uses social media, with some 4,500 followers on Facebook.