Sun | Jun 20, 2021

In tearful rebuke, councillor condemns grooming of teens

Published:Friday | May 14, 2021 | 12:11 AMLeon Jackson/Gleaner Writer


Tears streamed down the cheeks of Dr Pauline Foster, councillor for Ulster Spring division, as she on Thursday delivered an emotional condemnation of gender-based violence, a scourge that has led to the deaths of several women and girls in recent weeks.

Referencing the killing of 29-year-old Nickeisha Keeling at her Parnassus, Clark’s Town, home on the weekend, Foster said the disaster was set in motion 16 years ago when Keeling was groomed in a relationship by a man twice her age.

Stenneth Wilson, 62, has been charged with murdering Keeling, his common-law wife, minutes before Mother’s Day. Keeling’s body was found with several chop wounds in a blood-spattered room.

In her heart-tugging address at the monthly meeting of the Trelawny Municipal Corporation, Foster raised questions as to why the woman’s parents and the community had turned a blind eye in the face of allegations that the relationship started when Keeling was a minor.

“How did parents allow this relationship to continue ... ?” Foster asked. “Where were the members of the community which kept silent?”

As the gravity of her questions sank in, Foster’s councillor colleagues signalled their support for her sentiments by pounding their desks in unison.

Foster, who has indicated publicly that she will not be seeking another term as councillor when her tenure ends, made a passionate plea to the Jamaica Council of Churches and other organisations to be more vocal against gender-based violence.

“I want politicians to stop thinking about the votes in that big yard. Justices of the peace, come out against rape and buggery,” pleaded Foster, who is one of two female councillors in the municipal body,

“Time come now, time come now, mi heart full,” said the tearful Foster, who also serves as a lay preacher in her community.

Falmouth Mayor Collen Gager and Councillor Phillip Service, who were clearly moved by Foster’s presentation, also voiced disgust at the violence faced by women.

“It is important that a look is taken at where all of this is coming from. Parents must step up and do their duty of managing those in their control,” said Gager.

“They allow them to make decisions which come back to haunt them later in life.”