Letters to the Editor

Crime and violence now a public health emergency

Thursday, August 10, 2017

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Dear Editor,

As Jamaican women, we, the members of the 51% Coalition, wish to express our deep shock and anger at the murder of 17-year-old Mickolle Moulton, a girl who had her whole life ahead of her and a promising future, and the wounding of her 12-year-old sister, who is still fighting for her life in hospital. We condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms and trust that the perpetrators will be brought to justice as speedily as possible.

We express our deepest sympathies to the mother, sister and family of Mickolle and share in their grief. We wish Mickolle's sister a speedy recovery from her injuries.

We see the issues surrounding crime and violence as a public health emergency, not only for our women and girls, but for all community members, including men and boys, the young, senior citizens and the disabled and especially vulnerable populations.

Mickolle's tragic death should underline the urgency of the situation and the particular vulnerability of women and girls to all forms of violence. While many women's human rights groups have raised awareness on this issue, much more remains to be done. We must actively support all the efforts of communities and organisations towards building more respectful and equitable relationships among women and girls, men and boys.

The Child Development Agency reports that the average age of alleged male perpetrators is 14-17 years. Many of these boys experience disturbing mental health problems, associated with trauma from experiences with physical violence. We suggest that additional resources be found to address the range of mental health problems faced by women, their families and children — both girls and boys.

Additionally, boys and men must actively take part in violence-reduction and gender-equity programmes. We must build a nation where women, girls, boys and men are valued equally and a strong sense of justice, fairness, equality, and integrity prevails. All Jamaicans, including our political leaders, must consider violence against women as a priority.

Many women's organisations are engaged, in the face of great challenges, in helping to address the vast needs of vulnerable communities. We wish to restate our commitment to continuing this effort, in partnership with other agencies and communities. We hope to see practical and sustainable community development initiatives from the Government and private sector, which can meaningfully engage wider partnerships on a non-partisan basis.

We urge the community to tell what they know, cooperate with the police, and help bring the murderer(s) to justice.

51% Coalition

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