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Forgiveness does not excuse justice

Published:Monday | July 6, 2015 | 12:34 PM


Your Gleaner article published Sunday, July 5, 2015 titled 'I forgave my rapist' raises concerns in my mind.

First, it seems to be hinging on a previous letter chastising the members of the South Carolina church who openly expressed forgiveness for Dylann Roof, the white supremacist who killed nine church members, including their pastor, after sitting quietly in the church's Bible study for about an hour.

The letter expressed disdain at the thought of forgiveness for such a heinous crime, as the author believed 'forgiveness' would absolve the guilty party of his crime.

Second, it clearly brings to mind the inefficiencies in our justice system. This is seen not only with rape cases, but I have read time and again that persons who have molested and buggered do not receive maximum punishment. Minors who are sexually molested do not get to see their perpetrator get proper sentencing as jurors often dismiss the sexual offence cases as 'nothing serious'. Divorce cases lag behind and so many other ineffective processes take place within the court system.

Third, it forces me to wonder what the appropriate response should be. Bearing points one and two in mind, I would like to appeal to the Jamaican public to remember that forgiveness does not automatically mean we should be without consequences. Furthermore, these girls, in particular, may not have forgiven their rapists. They plainly say they are frustrated with the system. They want out! It is a stressful constant reminder that they have been hurt.

I pray that the powers that be swiftly re-examine the procedures being employed to try sexual-offence cases. Encourage the girls to forgive their rapists, yes, as forgiveness is possible. Whether he is behind bars or still roaming the streets - forgiveness is a part of healing and is psychologically necessary to live a healthy, normal life after a traumatic event.

However, mercy and justice are mutually exclusive. While victims should be encouraged to forgive for their own well-being, it does not mean mercy is expected from the courts. It is up to the courts to execute fair and right sentencing as we seek to protect the lives of our citizens.