AJ recants - Nicholson withdraws 'flexi rape' comment, apologises to all women
Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter
FOLLOWING THE backlash arising from his 'flexi rape' comment in the Senate three weeks ago, A.J. Nicholson, leader of government business in the Senate, declared in Parliament's Upper Chamber: "I shall not err in this unguarded way ever again - not even under the breath, let alone sotto voce."
Nicholson, at the start of yesterday's sitting, apologised for what he termed his "unbecoming behaviour".
"Ours is the highest limb of the Legislature, and our conduct in here should be exemplary in all respects. When, therefore, an error of judgement such as I made is pointed out, the proper thing to do is to recant and make amends," Nicholson said.
"For despite my raiment, I am covered in sackcloth and ashes. I seek forgiveness, even as I pray that the controversy will be put to peaceable rest," Nicholson said.
While making her contribution to the flexi-work bill on October 31, Marlene Malahoo-Forte, an opposition senator, pointed to some of the dangers with the flexi-work regime, saying that repealing of laws which restricted work for women at nights could open the possibility for women to be subjected to crimes such as rape.
REFUSED TO WITHDRAW
Nicholson, in gest, made the flexi-rape comment, and then protested when Senate President Floyd Morris asked him to withdraw the comment.
Yesterday, Nicholson said he put himself in a quandary when he resisted suggestions that he should withdraw the remark.
"For this, also, and with utmost sincerity, I say that I am sorry. This chamber deserved better, has received better from me, and will witness no such repetition by me," he said.
"My remark and behaviour, particularly as the leader of government business in this place, brought me into direct conflict with the tenets, principles and practices of the People's National Party," he said, as he extended his apology to all women, including Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller.
Dorothy Whyte, executive director of Women's Resource Outreach Centre, told The Gleaner that Nicholson's statement sounds like a genuine apology.
"It is important for all men to listen to what Minister Nicholson has said and to realise that we are no longer living in the caveman world. Women are going to speak out whenever we have this type of situation. We are not going to take it anymore," Whyte said.
Floyd Green, president of Generation 2000, the young professional arm of the opposition Jamaica Labour Party, said yesterday's was "the first real apology we have gotten from Senator Nicholson".
"It is more aligned to the gravity of the breach," Green said, while adding that along with the apology, Nicholson should have resigned as leader of government business.
"Because it has come so belatedly, we still doubt the sincerity. It seems more as if he is trying to save his position instead of being truly sorry and won't do it again," he said.
Said Nicholson: "By way of partial amends, I intend to demonstrate and thereby underscore the extent of my remorse by participating in whatever way that I can, and otherwise to associate myself, with the activities related to this year's celebration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, next Tuesday, November 25."