Chuck must face sanction for reckless comments, says PNP

Chuck must face sanction for reckless comments, says PNP

Sunday, June 28, 2020

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — Opposition spokesperson on gender affairs, Denise Daley, says that if the Sexual Harassment Bill is to be taken seriously, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck must be sanctioned for his comments made during a discussion of the issue of sexual harassment at last Thursday's sitting of the joint select committee on the Bill.

“Justice Minister Delroy Chuck is not only wrong in his pronouncement on the Sexual Harassment Bill, but insensitive in the extreme and has insulted the many victims of sexual violence and harassment in Jamaica,” Daley said in a press release last night.

Chuck, during the sitting, had commented on the proposed time period within which a non-criminal sexual harassment complaint can be made.

“We don't want the situation that now happens in the 'Me Too' movement in the US where 30 years later you talk about 'I was harassed in the elevator',” the minister said, while chuckling. “No, if you don't complain within 12 months, please, please, cut it out.”

He has since come under fire for the comment and many have called for the minister to step down.

Read more: Chuck under fire

Daley said the justice minister, who should be setting an example of demonstrable compassion, must not be allowed to minimise the impact of his insult with a tired cliché of an apology.

Read more: I unreservedly apologise, says Chuck

“The justice minister cannot on his own determine that sexual harassment complaints are valid for only twelve months, and discounting the emotional and psychological impact on the victims as if these people are somehow of lesser value than others,” Daley said.

“Sexual harassment is a serious offence and must never be taken lightly, especially by the minister charged with the responsibility for administering justice in a society with historical antecedence of inequalities and discriminations,” she continued.

Daley noted that his display during the meeting and his suggestion of allowing just one year to file a sexual harassment complaint sum up his attitude toward victims of such offence.

“Our people deserve better. The victims, the majority of whom are powerless to defend themselves, need the support of organisations such as the #MeToo Movement to provide the platform and strong voice for action.

“In Jamaica, the time limit for most civil claims is six years. So why should sexual harassment claims, which are based on intentional obnoxious sexual behaviour against the victim, be time barred after one year?” Daley questioned.

She charged that no less than a six-year limit should be considered if any at all.

She added that victims should not be placed at any additional disadvantage by removing their ability to pursue justice at a time when they may feel most comforted and supported, and able to defend themselves psychologically, physically and emotionally.

“For many, the effects of the harassment are long term, and they will only come forward when they feel assured of not being at risk of suffering additional psychological trauma,” the Opposition spokesperson said.

She pointed out that most victims of sexual harassment do not make a formal complaint as the general perception is that these issues are not treated with any level of seriousness.

“Minister Chuck's response only serves to maintain the silence and the notion that these infractions are to be ignored,” Daley said.

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