Enough is enough!

Thursday, June 12, 2014    

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Dear Editor,

The horror of the negative effects of the "criminalisation" of our society continues to play out before our eyes in the growing sexual abuse and violence that we are experiencing.

Between Sunday and yesterday (Wednesday, June 11) we have seen reported the brutal rape of a woman in Spanish Town, who was reportedly 8 months pregnant, and now news of the gang-rape of a male jogger in the Queen Hill area. These incidents have been publicised, but we are all aware of the underreporting of these crimes and many have not hit the media.

As an organisation, the Women's Resource and Outreach Centre condemns all forms of violence and abuse. We are horrified at the continuing violation and abuse of women, girls, babies, and now men, that is taking place, especially because it seems to engender hopelessness and our feeling of vulnerability, and so little effective response by the powers that be.

We are dismayed at the level of insensitivity shown by reports in the print media, in the case of the sister from Spanish Town who was raped by three men. The response suggests that we are now into a circus about whether or not she is or was pregnant. Looking on at the police and the media, the 'story' around pregnancy seems to be the focus, glossing over the stark reality of the gross abuse that she has suffered at the hands of ruthless criminals. Most tragically, these speculations and misplaced assertions do nothing to remedy or respond to the matter at hand. It only adds to the levels of vulnerability and pain that she and many other victims of abuse suffer...but 'is just another story'.

What is the plan of action, what strategies will be employed by the police to secure and protect our sister in Spanish Town and the men, women, boys and girls who reside in others in communities across Jamaica?

What is the state of readiness for implementation of the Government's action plan to address gender-based violence? When will it be rolled out? Or is it that these things don't matter in the grand scheme of things? How many more gruesome attacks will it take for us to take a stand?

But, what can we as citizens do to bring about action, to get Government to speedily bring the sexual offenders register into law and to demand that the police force treats the victims of this horror in a more humane way and move speedily to investigate and apprehend the perpetrators. They need to get the justice system to impose more punitive periods of imprisonment for these perpetuators during which time they should be forced to work to provide the funds to cover the health care needs of the persons they have violated? And to push for an agenda of action to re-socialise our people to treat each other with respect, value life and uphold the law and to respect themselves?

The evil that plagues us has to be confronted by actions at many levels taking individual and collective responsibility to build the kind of Jamaica that is envisioned in our National Anthem.

Dorothy Whyte

Executive Director

Women's Resource and Outreach Centre

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