Letters to the Editor

Security forces mustn't exploit young girls in SOE

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

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Dear Editor,

I have a concern with regard to the behaviour of some soldiers currently on duty within the state of emergency in Spanish Town. After some discussions with a few young ladies from a particular community I am left to believe that one of the fringe benefits of being in the army is the opportunity for some soldiers to intimidate and take advantage of 17-19-year-old adolescent young ladies and other vulnerable women in these marginalised communities.

Surely it must sensibly be against operational protocol for the soldiers to pursue and engage in sexual activities with the young ladies in these areas that they have been empowered to protect. From an intelligence perspective, fraternising with the community members at that level may put the soldiers in vulnerable positions (no pun intended) and thusly compromise the operation. I am assuming that this state of emergency is serious activity with national implications.

What is even more disappointing is the belief by some soldiers that this behaviour is a tradition and OK. It is almost as if these ladies are of no value to them and as such are to be treated as 'stop-ins'. Please understand that most of these young ladies already come from abusive situations and relationships. What is needed is not a perpetuation of their past — and for some their present reality — but a seizing of the opportunity to imbue them with self-esteem and self-worth through their interactions with you, our military men. Use the opportunity to help them see that they are not sexual objects but women of value who this country rely on to nurture and shape our families.

Finally, whether or not you believe that these ladies are willing participants you must understand that their vulnerability by virtue of poverty and other traumatic life experiences predisposes them to respond to our military men as authority figures. Great leaders empower others and do not exploit their weaknesses. If this behaviour is an unspoken tradition it needs to cease immediately. What I believe is a greater tradition to uphold is the notion that army men are truly men of honour. Do your work professionally and do the honourable thing in your dealings.

Richard Henry

RISE Life Management Services





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