Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Break the silence - another woman killed, minister calls for public cooperation

Published:Monday | February 13, 2017 | 2:00 AMLivern Barrett

The headless, decomposed body of another Jamaican woman was found in St Mary on the weekend, triggering a call by gender rights advocate Nadeen Spence for all Jamaicans to join forces and send a strong signal of outrage over the spate of deadly attacks against women.

The body, believed to be the remains of 46-year-old Erroline Chin, was found in bushes on Saturday in the quiet community of Heywood Hall, police investigators revealed yesterday. The head was reportedly found a short distance away.

"Based on the state of decomposition, we can't positively identify her. We will have to use DNA and await the outcome of a post-mortem (exam) to positively say it's her. But we believe it's her, and we are investigating around that," one investigator told The Gleaner.

Councillor Mitzie Hudson, who represents the Hampstead division, which includes the community of Heywood Hall, said that the killing has left residents in shock. "Something like this has never happened in the community, so people are somewhat in awe," Hudson said.

A total of 24 females were killed in Jamaica last year. Fifteen of those killings resulted from domestic disputes. At least three females - including 15-year-old Green Pond High School student Shineka Grey and 23-year-old Burger King employee Nile Brown - have been reported killed since the start of the year.

Brown's body was found stuffed inside a barrel in Ramble, St Thomas, last week Sunday.

Spence said that she feels "much more conflicted" about the spate of deadly attacks on women because of some of the discussions she has heard. "You hear things like, 'when a man send a woman to school' or, 'When a woman cheat on a man', as if it's justified," she said yesterday.

"I hear justification in so many places that it feels as if it is accepted and it's normalised," she said.

The gender rights activist said this should serve as a wake-up call for the nation to start resocialising young men and women. "There has to be - from every corner, every institution, every organisation - a wholesale condemnation [of the attacks against women]," she said.

Spence admitted that the attacks have left her almost in a state of paranoia, especially when she is traversing the roadways. "I was driving up the road just now [yesterday] and a bike rode up beside me, and I sat with my breath held, waiting on them to do something," she recounted.

"Jamaica is a dangerous and difficult place to navigate if you are a woman because we believe that a woman's body is public property. You lock up in your house because the moment you walk outside, you asking for it [to be harassed]," she said.

Gender Affairs Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange also used Chin's killing to appeal to "good men and women" to start speaking out.

"These acts of brutality against our women and girls must stop. They are unacceptable, and we must do all we can to ensure that the perpetrators are caught and punished under the law," said Grange as she urged persons with information on this or other crimes to go to the police.

"Let's be clear about it: this evil will flourish if good men and women do and say nothing. It is time to take a stand against violence. No more cover up. Break the silence!" Grange insisted.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com