THE EDITOR, Sir:
I want to commend and encourage Senator Kamina Johnson Smith for agitating change on behalf of women like myself. I was most ecstatic when the senator mooted her colleagues to take steps to amend the Offences Against the Person Act, the Sexual Offences Act and the Child Care and Protection Act so they can better protect women and children.
It is so very important to have someone like her who understands the nuances of a system that increasingly victimises women and children for their plight.
Over the past few years, we have had a steady increase of reported violence against women and children. Our women and children, including boys, are being raped, murdered (even while pregnant), domestically abused and otherwise mistreated at alarming rates. We must do better.
Gender-based violence and discrimination are major deterrents to women and children reaching their full potential as citizens. It cripples our growth and development, as women and children make up a significant portion of the population. It is, therefore, incumbent on us to protect the most vulnerable among us.
I must also commend Senator Johnson Smith on her call to amend Section 31 of the regulations to the Education Act to ensure that a pregnant teenager "is entitled to the completion of her formal education at the secondary level". It is pertinent that we understand what is at stake when we put these young girls at even greater risk by denying them an education.
MORE PRONE TO POVERTY
The intersectionality among teen pregnancy, gender, class and poverty is too stark to ignore. Women are disproportionately affected by this gender-biased legislation, since the boys (when they are, in fact, the fathers) are allowed to continue their education.
Furthermore, it is poor girls who are affected by this legislation, as their more fortunate counterparts have more options at their disposal. This further feminises poverty. We must begin to challenge the status quo if we want to achieve the goals set out in Vision 2030.
Senator Johnson Smith is a breath of fresh air among largely spineless legislators who, by virtue of their inaction, are complicit in perpetuating injustice against their most vulnerable constituents/voters.
KAREN A. LLOYD