Wed | Aug 4, 2021

Look who's railing against bullies!

Published:Friday | December 21, 2018 | 12:00 AM


There is something immediately and unmistakably laughable about Philippa Davies of the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society calling other civil-society organisations that have recently chided Parliament "bullies". This is the same person who, earlier this year, on national television, overtly suggested that if Parliament made any changes to the buggery law, they would suffer at the polls. Alas, perspective is everything.

Thankfully, Parliament was not too scared of being bullied at the polls and made some significant steps forward in the joint select committee recommendations. Of note, the committee recommended the removal of conditions on the marital rape clause in the Sexual Offences Act, a proposal that Davies and her ilk vehemently opposed and the rest of us right-thinking Jamaicans openly advocated for.

The Parliament also took on the recommendations to expand the definition of domestic violence, strengthen the penalties for breaching restraining orders, and include a close-in-age exemption to the crime of 'sexual intercourse with a person under 16' so that minors (especially boys) would no longer be dragged before the courts for consensual activity with each other. Also, authorities will be able to severely punish the rape of vulnerable persons such as the elderly, children under 12, and persons with disabilities. These are all recommendations that civil-society organisations with Jamaica's best interest at heart put forward.

The track record of public discourse has made clear for the world to see that us "bleeding-heart liberals" and social-justice advocates don't only care about "freeing up buggery", but are interested in more robust and protective legislation for all. The Parliament should be applauded for the critical steps forward they made, but they must also be held accountable for their cowardice.

The fact that they have done so well in the areas outlined above means that the Parliament can do so much more. And rather than threatening to hit parliamentarians where it hurts, human-rights organisations remain open to dialogue to see how best we can continue on the road to progress and prosperity.