'Leave the women alone!' - Prime minister rubbishes view that women bring rape, abuse on themselves
Prime Minister Andrew Holness was strident yesterday in his dismissal of the common belief shared among many Jamaicans that women are the cause of incidents of rape and abuse that they suffer because of their attire.
Speaking at a luncheon, which he hosted to celebrate International Women's Day at Jamaica House in St Andrew, the prime minister said that there were a number of cultural norms that needed to be addressed if the country was to see any real reduction in violence and abuse.
"There is the common issue where men just feel they can violate a woman. You are on the bus (or anywhere), you are free to dress as attractively as you want. No man has any right to touch you," he asserted.
"We have to tell our boys that they must respect a woman's right to express herself. Whether it's in her dress, or anyway she pleases, you have no more right over her body than she does," he continued.
He further stated that the home must be the first place of positive socialisation where boys, especially, will be sensitised about behaviours that are acceptable.
"A man can take up a 13-year-old or a 14-year-old and say, 'I am doing a service. I'm sending her to school and all that I get from her is a little sex.' That is a permissible culture that even some parents know about and encourage. We need to talk up against that," he declared.
"Many of our young girls, they don't live with parents. They are in school and dem live wid man, and we can't close our eyes to that. Any such situation, the State should intervene and the man be brought before the courts. You are not doing the country or the family a favour."
In the meantime, Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, noted that while there was a far way to go, the Government was doing all it could to address women's issues. She announced that there was an increase in the budget to address gender issues.
She also announced that the Government was in the process of establishing the Gender Advisory Commission, to be co-chaired by Member of Parliament for South Trelawny Marisa Dalrymple-Philibert and Senator Dr Sapphire Longmore.