Sun | Jul 22, 2018

Letter of the Day | Don't hijack debate on violence against women

Published:Wednesday | March 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM


It is extremely pleasing to know that the issue of violent and sexual crimes against females in Jamaica has survived the usual nine days to which most issues succumb. It is also encouraging the number of persons, organisations, and other interested parties who have thrown themselves vigorously into this terribly urgent national problem.

Indeed, it is a matter of national concern and deserves every bit of attention it is currently getting.

I am, however, concerned about the frequency with which this national conversation gets derailed. Each time something happens, be it a request for revisions of definitions and laws, a planned march, a media interview, usually only the initial event relates to the actual issue of violent and sexual crimes against females.

This is as a direct result of the individual or organisation behind the event being savaged by dissenting individuals and organisations claiming to equally be concerned. This then leads to a personal tÍte-‡-tÍte, effectively drowning out victims' cries, and stymieing the process of recovery, protection, and prevention.

Hijacking thus removes attention from where it ought to be: primarily on the victims, and providing the requisite care needed in such circumstance, and, secondarily, on catching and bringing perpetrators in to face the full effect of the law.

It is to be expected, and in fact, is indispensable, that various stakeholders will have different suggestions on how to effectively address the problem. Clearly, we are not all writers, lawyers, and psychologists; some of us are marchers, town criers, and placard makers.




And while I do not expect us to sit swaying around a fire passing peace pipes, singing kumbaya, it is reasonable to expect experts, from myriad backgrounds, to somehow remain focused, filtering out irrelevant stimuli. Cursory observation of Jamaica's history reveals that our citizens have a tendency to object and protest for objecting and protesting's sake. Furthermore, not only do we lambaste each other, we usually do not proffer any suggestions of our own.

In the end, "the real solutions, however, lie in our ability to influence effective change of policy and legislation, to actively support the police and the authorities in enforcement", president of the People's National Party Women's Movement, Jennifer Edwards, as reported by the Jamaica Observer, February 24, 2017.