Thu | Jan 18, 2018

Letter of the Day | Michael Coombs and his dangerous lies

Published:Wednesday | June 7, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Michael Coombs of the Ministry of Health is obviously on a mission. The Gleaner story of Saturday, June 3, 2017, reported that Coombs had asserted that the reason domestic violence was so prevalent in Jamaica is because more people needed to get married. In his estimation, marriage, as an antidote to relationship violence, is an undisputed fact.

By his reasoning, to solve the problem of domestic violence in intimate relationships, we simply need to get these same people in common-law relationships to marry each other.

It would appear that marriage has built into it a dispute-resolution mechanism that is unavailable to people in common-law relationships. Perhaps it's the 'till death do us part' commitment.

It would also appear that those who marry have arrived at a higher state of humanity and are now able to call upon their better selves and behave in healthy and relationship-sustainable ways. Coombs does not suggest why marriages are, by their very nature, antagonistic to violence. He, however, states that research shows that it is a scientific fact that women who are married report less abuse.

What Michael Coombs may have missed by the veil of his lies is the fact that in recent years, Jamaican news has been replete with stories of husbands ending the lives of their wives, after the marriage was blessed by a man of God and legally verified.

We are asking Michael Coombs to imagine the possible scenarios that could account for married women reporting less when they have been abused. Further, we believe that he has demonstrated a remarkable lack of care and regard for women who have been, and are victims/survivors of domestic abuse. In fact, some of them (married and unmarried) are living through it as we speak, and his particular manner of trivialising an important, life-altering reality for so many women is a clear indication that on this particular matter, he is out of his depth.

It is distressing that Coombs was speaking officially from the Ministry of Health. We find his position - especially as a Ministry of Health representative - quite dangerous, disrespectful and untenable. His analysis of a complex issue is simplistic and misleading.

Michael Coombs should know better. We are calling on the Ministry of Health to clarify its position on this rather unfortunate perspective.


Co-founder, Tambourine Army