Sat | Mar 17, 2018

Gordon Robinson | She should be next PNP leader

Published:Sunday | February 26, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Lisa Hanna, the social media-savvy member of parliament for South East St Ann, has the smarts and potential for leadership of the PNP.

So, Lisa Hanna seems intent on separating herself from the pack and proving she's a genuine national leader. Those (both of you) who read these rambling rants should've discerned by now, she's my number one pick for PNP leader. I don't mean some time in the future or somewhere over the rainbow after all the Peters and Phillipses complete their turn at profiling. I mean NOW.

Jamaica can't afford another decade or two of PNP business as usual while Young Andrew gets old and fat (perish forbid, right, ladies?) in the PM's chair. Jamaica, in real, immediate danger of imploding as a nation, needs the PNP to come up with some competitive, out-of-the-box thinking as has developed in the JLP over the past five years or so.

The good news is that while others wait in line to be sucked up the party hierarchy auto-siphon as leaders retire, Lisa has stepped up to the plate and made it clear she supports Jamaica first. For, make no mistake about it, if Jamaica is to rise from the vortex of crime that currently engulfs it; if Jamaica is to extricate itself from the economic stagnation that bedevils it; if Jamaica is to become an educated society; it's youth to whom we must look for radical, necessary ideas, plus the energy and courage to implement them.

This is why many are thankful to see her boldly shrug off her personal political disappointments and travails and return to the public eye with strong position statements focusing on our children. Why? Jamaica's future won't be found in the over-60 generation but in its children. If the children fail, Jamaica fails. So, cutting straight to the heart of ALL Jamaica's problems, she wrote in a blog reproduced by the Jamaica Observer: "... some of our cultural norms have become so infused with sexual overtures, sexual innuendo and just plain raw sex.

"Surveys conducted have shown that the first sexual encounter for a boy and girl in Jamaica occurs at 13 and 14, respectively. When I was minister of youth, ... I was always struck by some of the body language and conversations coming from many of the children with whom I interacted. Some of the children in our residential-care facilities were forced and coerced into sex from a very early age because of carnal abuse, rape, and other forms of sexual violence."

Why do I say this goes to the heart of ALL Jamaica's problems? Hopefully, we can agree that Jamaica's overriding troubles are poor education, crime, careless lifestyles, an anaemic economy resistant to growth; and poor health fuelled by almost non-existent public health services. If Jamaicans were healthy, educated, and secure, we'd be well on the road to recovery. So we MUST strive to turn the current crop of under-five-year-olds into healthy, educated, and secure adults. THAT is the true mission of Lisa's generation, NOT pretend instant crime-reduction plans.




The national crisis forcefully and bluntly identified by Lisa is a direct result of these overriding troubles and a sure-fire indicator that these problems are likely to be with us for at least another generation. So, faux intellectuals, suffering from a disease called "wide reading" (aka 'ostrichitis'), calling for "preventative detention" and "hard policing" as the immediate panacea, are so trapped in a fantasyland of their own creation they might never see reality.

Meanwhile, the next generation of criminals is currently aged five to 10; are the object of sexual abuse daily; see sex as necessarily violent and a source of power thanks to lessons learned from the likes of Vybz Kartel (who doubles as teacher of contempt for justice) and Spice.

This is how Jamaica's future minds are being moulded, and I congratulate Lisa Hanna for taking a lone stance in shining the light of truth on this issue and prescribing REAL solutions. Education ministers like the ultra-pious Ronnie Thwaites and the earnest, well-meaning but hidebound Ruel Reid are incapable of introducing policies required to ensure REAL-LIFE education for our children.

Censorship is impracticable, ineffective, and silly. Explaining and contextualising the uncensored and teaching values (a parent-teacher partnership task) are essential to modern education! Children MUST be taught at the earliest ages, but we can't concentrate on children alone. We must also reach parents.

Lisa wrote:

"I no longer have children dance competitions in my constituency as any part of fun day activities that I have as MP. Why? Because I remember having to take from the stage a four-year-old girl who was gyrating on her head, while three other little girls dropped to the floor in splits demonstrating some of the very moves I saw in the videos I watched.

"The truth is, you cannot stop the flow of information or these images or lyrics ... but what

you can do is to talk to your child about being responsible about how they receive the information.

"Last year, CISOCA received 1,094 reports of alleged sexual intercourse involving underage individuals."

While Jamaican intelligentsia weep, wail, and wring their hands about the abuse of the trust of young girls by pastors like Rupie, we close our eyes to the pimping out of daughters by their uneducated, unassisted mothers, imprisoned by hopelessness and incapable of clear thought, whose variegated 'babyfathers' are M.I.A. We pretend sex between 'consenting' teens the law describes as infants doesn't exist, and we refuse to acknowledge the learning effect on very young, impressionable girls of raw music videos from the likes of Spice, who teaches them how to focus on separating older men from their cash.

We also love to pretend these lessons aren't learned (as spectators at home and on the telephone) by young Jamaican girls well below 10 years old. Feminists, don't bother writing angry, pompous, holier-than-thou emails and letters. I don't care. You're living in Wonderland. I live in Jamaica!

Back to Lisa's refreshing prose:

I draw your attention to these glaring statistics as we are still attempting as a country to solve a modern-day problem, which is of gigantic proportions with Band-Aid solutions that were maybe sufficient and effective 30 years ago.

We need to get real about this problem, and honest about the solutions, one of which starts with adopting the recommendation of changing the definition of sexual intercourse in this country. We cannot stop sexual violence and abuse if we are not honest about the different forms of sexual advances now being made on our boys and girls.

Furthermore, we must look seriously at how we teach sex education in our schools. The Church will be quick to say no, I am sure. However, if what Superintendent Enid Ross- Stewart said is true, that the majority of high-profile perpetrators of sexual offences against underage individuals are pastors (and policemen), it is time for our Church to acknowledge the hypocrisy of reconciling this data with their stance over many years of not supporting sex education in schools and amending the definition of sexual intercourse.

The reality that 'Jamaican School Girl' is now a prime search for porn sites is a serious wake-up call for Jamaica to recognise what is truly at stake. If we are to seriously confront and combat the horrors of child sexual abuse, we must first rid ourselves of the notion that this problem can be solved in the 'closet'.

I've been saying this for years. When it comes to Jamaica's future, we must unglue our noses from the Bible and see what's happening around us. We must prepare our children for life. Yet we continue to choose selfish ministerial appointments for as many party hacks as we can stuff into a bloated Cabinet over our children's welfare.

So the last PNP Government had a youth ministry with no authority over education, which is essential to youth. That portfolio was handed to a different party member. Neither the youth minister nor the education minister had any control over sports (an essential tool for teaching life relationships, philosophy, discipline, and teamwork to youth). A third-party faithful ran with that. It's no wonder our children go through life like driftwood, absorbing any consistent, integrated lesson they're taught. Those lessons don't come from Government. They come from the dance hall.

Peace and love.

- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law.

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