Letter of the Day | Shaneke Williams sympathisers misguided
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Efforts to shame those who have insisted that Shaneke Williams, the former Miss Jamaica World (MJW) contestant, be removed from the competition are reprehensible and cowardly. Further, to suggest that those who have, in fact, made this call are somehow being self-righteous misses the point entirely.
Shaneke Williams' presence in this year's MJW competition not only detracted from the actual focus of the contest, but it also suggests that the matter of rape and its subsequent effects do not attract significant premiums in Jamaica. As such, the alleged rape of a 15-year-old girl appears to have taken a back seat in relation to a woman whose matter was discontinued before the courts because the complainant, at the time a minor, elected to do so.
Discontinuation, in this instance, does not by itself imply innocence. Ms Williams' ill-timed campaign to 'rehabilitate' her public image has been given the greater platform compared to the silenced child who, for whatever reasons, elected to take the matter no further than the initial complaint.
In this regard, the public does not know the full story or even whether Ms Williams' misguided decision to enter the MJW contest reflected integrity or soundness of judgement. By so doing, Ms Williams has arrogated the role of victim on to herself.
Something about this is wrong. By declaring that her presence in the competition was part of an effort to tell her side of the story, Ms Williams has struck a new blow at all likely victims of rape. It is an extremely selfish approach.
If, as Ms Williams argues, she has suffered a grave wrong, there are other, more effective, means of giving voice to these concerns. Thus, it is not self-righteous to suggest that she seeks these out elsewhere.
Further, there is nothing in the request that Ms Williams be removed from the competition which implies that those making said statements are beyond reproach and may never go before a court of law themselves. That is limited reasoning.
We need to have a clear understanding of what is being said and why. We need to stop trying to use shame to silence our critics when they raise objections on whichever matter.
We are duty-bound to keep open lines of a mutually respectful dialogue in all matters of disagreement if we are to realise the goals of a healthy democracy. This should remain uppermost in all of our minds in this moment, even as we see the issues from different vantage points.
That should be the actual focus, not the silencing of critique because it is inconvenient.