Wed | May 27, 2020

'Extremely flawed' - Crawford blasts JSIF boss for saying high percentage of Mt Salem young women engage in prostitution

Published:Friday | September 29, 2017 | 12:00 AM
Omar Sweeney
Damion Crawford


That's the assertion from political firebrand Damion Crawford addressing comments made by Omar Sweeney, managing director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), who revealed that data showed that 70 percent of young women in Mount Salem, St James have engaged in prostitution.

Crawford said though he was aware that Sweeney had no ill intentions, he believed such statements have a long-lasting impact, leading to stigmatisation of communities and their residents. As such, he urged caution.

"The research, which was done in the form of a focus group of 50 participants, cannot be used to make generalised statements as inflammatory as this about the community. Firstly, a research on a community with a population size of over 3,500 persons, even with a margin of error of five per cent, would need a sample size of no less than 347 participants, which is seven times the sample size identified in the 'study'. Secondly, the use of the focus group methodology is geared more to understanding the phenomenon rather than to identify it," he said.

"Despite the hasty conclusion drawn by Mr Sweeney, the interventions mentioned, particularly, sexual-health education, are necessary, and I encourage Mr Sweeney and JSIF to continue their great efforts to improve the social landscape of Jamaica."

Crawford said intervention methods used to bring restoration to communities must ensure that there is confidence between the citizens and the state.

"Once again, I must caution against the unnecessary stigmatisation of communities, as this does not help the process of engagement and building trust and confidence between citizens and the State. I reiterate that the methodology used to inform Mr Sweeney's utterance is extremely flawed, and my interactions with the community and its residents suggest that the statement is untrue," he stressed.

In the meantime, JSIF, in a press release yesterday, sought to clarify the statements Sweeney made at a Rotary Club of Kingston luncheon meeting held on Thursday at The Jamaica Pegasus hotel in New Kingston.

"The JSIF wishes to make it clear that the managing director's statement was not in any way intended to stigmatise persons from the community," the release said.


Poverty Assessment


According to the statement, the data that Sweeney referred to came out of a Wealth/Poverty Assessment carried out by the Social Development Commission. Wealth assessments are the basis for anti-poverty strategies. They identify the poor, diagnose the problem, and help to set priorities for anti-poverty work.

"This was a focus-group discussion that took place on January 21, 2016 and was in a report release February 19, 2016," JSIF said.

"The focus group involved 46 community representatives participating in a session for Mount Salem and outlines information garnered from these 46 young persons in the community between the ages of 13-19 years."

On September 1, the Government declared its first zone of special operations in Mount Salem as part of the strategy to arrest the high crime wave sweeping across Jamaica. One element of the initiative is to undertake a comprehensive social-intervention programme, with the hope of reforming that community for the better and not having it revert to criminal activities. JSIF is tasked with implementing the social-intervention programme.