The 2009 Sexual Offences Act creates new provisions for the prosecution of rape and other sexual offences, including marital rape, anonymity of complainant in rape and other sexual offences, as well as incest.

In its concluding remarks on Jamaica’s latest report to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the CEDAW Committee expressed concern that “while both parents are legally responsible for the maintenance of their child/children, mothers (particularly single mothers) carry a disproportionate burden of care for children because of cultural factors as well as legal and administrative inadequacies concerning child maintenance and a lack of participation by men.” The law in Jamaica does not discriminate on the basis of gender with respect to inheritance.

Under the Inheritance (provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1993, the wishes of the deceased are paramount and the estate is distributed according to the will of the deceased.

If the deceased leaves no will, the estate is distributed to the surviving spouse, children, parents and other eligible relatives according to the Intestates’ Estates and Property Charges Act.

79 In 1995, the government passed a law that recognised domestic violence as a crime.

In 2004, the Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act was adopted to provide victims of domestic violence the opportunity to apply for the protection of the courts.

This act broadened the categories of women protected to include not just married women, but also women in common-law and visiting relationships.

Although there is no nation-wide prevalence data on domestic violence, the government reported to the CEDAW Committee in 2011 that a number of actions taken under the Domestic Violence Act, including a domestic violence module in police training courses, setting up Domestic Violence Desks in parishes with high reports of domestic violence, the creation of Victim Support Units which provide emotional support, counselling and other services to victims of violence in 14 parishes, and educational programmes on domestic and sexual abuse in select schools have led to an overall increase in the number of incidents of violence reported.

The law applies equally to male and female spouses.

However, if the deceased has specifically stated that the spouse and children should not inherit his or her property, the surviving dependents can appeal to the courts to obtain an allowance.