Letters to the Editor

This one cannot be another 'nine-day wonder'!

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

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Dear Editor,

Violence against women is not a clandestine affair in Jamaica. We still hear the common saying that, “If him no beat mi him no love mi.”

Then, there is also the uncontested speech: “Hey, gyal, yuh a gwaan like yuh betta dan bad man.”

All of these every day statements that parents hardly ever stop their sons from touting and daughters from accepting are what may have led to the untimely and heinous killing of so many young girls.

I can just imagine the unfortunate scenario wherein a worthless boy on the corner makes his advance at a young girl as she attempts to go on her merry way, and at least try to achieve something in life. Her rejection, whatever form it may take, crushed his sense of entitlement to her body. It is that same entitlement that makes Jamaican men feel as if it is OK to grab the hand, smack the buttocks or, worse, describe in the most graphic ways the sexual things he would like to do to women as they go by. If the woman dares reject the advance the result is most offensive language being hurled at her, or worse hurt and injury. This is the single most obvious sign that everything is wrong about what many Jamaican men think about women.

The truth is that something has to be done to turn back this archaic culture.

It has been reported that young Mickolle Moulton refused the sexual advances of men in the area, which resulted in her death. Her death must not be the usual nine-day wonder! It simply cannot be.

I have heard the prime minister, Opposition leader, and other politicians across Jamaica condemning this criminal act, as well they should. The truth, however, is, while this may gain them a lot of political mileage and does well for their image, until there are real and immediate measures there will be not change.

For Mickolle's death to mean anything, the following ought to be done:

1. A swift movement by the security forces to apprehend and bring this man to justice with the full length of the law being meted out to him (with due process, of course).

2. A public campaign, fully funded by the Government, should be mounted aiming to sensitise the public about violence aginst women and girls. Members of Parliament must be mandated to host classes and join the sensitisation campaign across their constituencies, using poster competitions or whatever mode necessary to educate communities about violence against women. The Church is a good place to start.

3. A hotline should be set up specifically for the reporting of violent incidents against women. The relevant support agencies must liaise with this framework.

4. Finally, and most importantly, the Ministry of Education must be tasked with drafting a curriculum to be taught in schools at every level about gender-based violence, and respect for each gender. This curriculum should teach girls to own their body and boys that that they do not own them, neither are they entitled to a woman's body, even in marriage. We really should see this rolling out in schools across Jamaica within a year, which is more than enough time to carry out consultation and train guidance counsellors.

We must not make this young woman's death a nine-day wonder. I hear politicians saying we cannot continue like this, and I agree. But the only way we can do this is if we ensure that not one more woman becomes the victim of a man who feels entitled to her body. We can only do this through stiff penalties, swift justice, and continuous public education.

Omrie Samuels





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