Columns

Season of honours and awards

Barbara Gloudon

Friday, October 13, 2017

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COME Monday morning, all roads lead to King's House in upper St Andrew, where Governor General Sir Patrick Linton Allen will preside over the annual ceremony of investiture and presentation of national honours and awards. From town and from country many will flock to the location to watch the parade and to applaud when those close to them make the walk up to the platform to receive decorations and medals earned by our countrymen. Sometimes, on occasion, someone from beyond our shores, who has assisted our nation in some way or other is recognised with a special honour.

Headline of the event is the honours and awards which are the offspring of the National Honours and Awards Act of 1969. I wonder how many of us know and accept the meaning of these symbols? Some cynics claim they don't have much time for such things. Like it or not, though, life in JA carries on. The fact that some people (according to old time wisdom) will “cut their eye and pass it”, provides us with justification for the question: Why isn't greater effort made to inform more of our people on the awardees and their work?

The grounds of King's House are quite attractive, even more so, since some really attractive landscaping has been put in place. From the entrance gate on the Hope Road side, the entry to the property creates an atmosphere of “welcome”. Of course, you have to identify yourself at the police post, like mostly everybody has to do on seeking entry to places such as these nowadays. We live now with the “signs of the times”.

One flaw I find in the national honours and awards event is that special effort should be made to accommodate young people at the event. They should get the opportunity to be inspired and learn about the many ways Jamaicans and others have contributed to this nation.

Many would be surprised to see people of “ordinary circumstance” being summoned to stand before the governor general and receive the Badge of Honour for Gallantry, awarded to four men and two women, both of whom rescued persons from fire — one at her residence and the other at the Bustamante Hospital for Children. The men saved others from dangerous flood waters and the Rio Cobre in St Catherine. There is much more to be told of the bravery of others, but, say I, young people deserve a space at this high occasion. Don't tell me there is no space to accommodate a few more. More than “the half” of the honours and awards are there to be told… but we'll have to save it for another time.

ONWARD TO OTHER MATTERS:

It seems there is no place in the world today that people are not hearing about the Big Man in the American movie industry who has met his downfall due to his vicious habit of sexual harassment of women who came across his path.

The evil of sexual harassment is not unknown here and in the wider Caribbean. The matter came in for public debate here. In making an attempt to curb this offensive matter, here in Jamaica, the Government headed by then Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, brought to Parliament the Sexual Harassment Bill on December 1, 2015. The Bill was described as a model Bill, here and in Caricom. The objective was to outlaw sexual intimidation, coercion and pestering in the workplace, institutions and in landlord-tenant relationships. There were several definitions of sexual harassment, including sexual innuendos, and so on.

It is now two years later, what is happening? Currently nothing has been heard of the anti-harassment Bill which was sent to the Senate. Despite all the statements of disfavour toward sexual advances in various situations, we remain without the protection of the law. Who is going to do what is right and make the move to put an end to an unfortunate situation?

Barbara Gloudon is a journalist, playwright and commentator. Send comments to the Observer or gloudonb@yahoo.com.

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