Thu | Jul 19, 2018

Letter of the Day | Rape definition must focus on victims

Published:Saturday | February 25, 2017 | 12:00 AM


I am hard-pressed to believe that the logical conclusion one could reach is that because the suggested redefinition of rape does not coincide with the leanings of the body one represents, the best recourse is to say that there is a hidden agenda.

I make reference to utterances made by deacon Peter Espeut Tuesday, February 21, 2017, while a guest on Nationwide News at 5 addressing the issue of the recent suggestion by the United Nations asking Jamaica to redefine rape. The suggested definition, they think, would be more reflective of what actually pertains in Jamaica.

It should be noted that a more comprehensive overview of the deacon's position can be found in a Gleaner article dated February 10, 2017. In it, he describes a desire to foist upon society an acceptance of homosexuality, and other "abnormal, unnatural" sexual behaviours. From my understanding, Espeut's contention lies in the fact that our intention to adjust definitions is unnecessary only because the adjustments will conflict with the tenets upon which his most august religious institution was founded.

He, however, had to be reminded that laws can't be created in isolation, and at present, the doctrines as outlined in his religious manual are not reflected in society. Laws must be created to address current shortcomings of a society, instead of addressing what one would WANT to be happening.

While I agree that justice and attendant care for the victim, and punishment for the perpetrator, are of paramount importance, I will not countenance a situation that agrees to delineate charges based solely on gender, because in essence, this is a system that is removed from the realities of present-day Jamaica, is reflective of the manner in which the Church has browbeaten society for centuries, but, most important, removes the attention from where it truly ought to be - the victims and perpetrators.

When Dr Garth Rattray asked when we were going to "start thinking of the victims, instead of the church", I could not help but remember the response given by another representative of the same institution on the same programme. Asked who was to blame for Jamaica's upsurge in violent crimes of a sexual nature against women and children, partial blame was apportioned to "the devil".

When are we going to halt the bullying by the Church, which has from time immemorial bulldozed its way into even the most intimate of spaces, our bodies, while failing to be a reliable source of refuge, or consistently providing unimpeachable beacons of integrity?