Vision for change: Social welfare practice and policy for women who experience family violence in Jamaica

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Social Sciences


Diane Murphy


domestic violence, women victims

Subject Categories

Family, Life Course, and Society | Social Work | Sociology


Using qualitative methodology and Caribbean feminist analysis, this dissertation examined public and private social welfare practices, informal coping networks, and policies that address the problem of family violence against women in Jamaica.

Findings from this research indicate that there is a dearth of formal social welfare services to deal with the problem of family violence. This lack of services is especially acute in rural areas. However, research evidence shows that rural women customarily obtain assistance through informal coping practices. Analysis of policy reveals that the Domestic Violence Act, 1995 and other relevant laws do not adequately meet the needs of Jamaican women who suffer family violence.

The weakness in social welfare policy and the inadequate delivery of practice can be explained by the fact that there is no unified theoretical base for policy formulation and practice design. Policy makers and planners need to incorporate knowledge about the multidimensional nature of Caribbean family systems, the effects of economic underdevelopment, and the peculiar socio-historical development of Jamaica.

Social welfare practice regarding family violence needs to develop linkages between formal and informal services. Community organizations offer a base from which to forward practice that enhances rural women's mental health and meets their practical and strategic gender needs. This would strengthen services for rural women and facilitate change which eradicates violence in their family lives.


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