Tip of the iceberg
I have often felt the need to comment on current events in Jamaica, which I left a decade ago but felt that being physically removed, it might seem hypocritical. But, when situations like the current impasse between the US and Jamaican governments about the extradition of a reputed don arise, it is time to shed the superficialities. Jamaicans, whether at home or abroad, have responsibilities to the land of our birth.
The current extradition controversy is only the tip of the iceberg; the situation from which it has arisen began several decades ago and will eventually lead our country into anarchy. Those who did not speak out against this kind of corruption and its resulting emasculation of the police force encouraged its progression, and so, the task of finding a solution must now be theirs. If our political leaders do not act now with courage and determination, Jamaica's future may succumb to a path from which the nation may never return. Unprecedented levels of co-operation between parties must take place on both sides of our political aisle to rid ourselves of this legion.
It is time for Prime Minister Bruce Golding to seek the help of the leader of the Opposition, and for both leaders to come together to face this challenge and find a lasting solution.
- Paula Powell
Public health concerns
Recently, the executive director of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe, reminded the world that, in Jamaica, a country with anti-sodomy laws, there is 32 per cent HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) versus 1.6 per cent in the general population. While in Cuba, Suriname, the Bahamas and the Dominican Republic, countries without such legislation, the HIV prevalence in MSM ranges from one per cent to eight per cent.
In the face of such damning evidence, this government, with the full complicity of the Opposition, entrenched the nation's anti-sodomy laws through the 2009 Sexual Offences Act which maintained the ban against private, consensual, adult male sex.
The short-sighted members of parliament who voted in favour of this piece of legislation failed to realise that while they were busy playing word games about what constitutes private, consensual, adult sex (which is none of their business), they were simultaneously trampling on the privacy rights of citizens and sowing the seeds of a public-health disaster.
Thanks to the anti-sodomy laws present in 11 Caribbean countries, the region now has the world's second-highest HIV prevalence rate, after sub-Saharan Africa, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic is now rapidly spreading to the heterosexual community, impacting women and children in greater numbers.
- Maurice Tomlinson