INDECOM urged to probe sexual harassment allegations at JDF

INDECOM urged to probe sexual harassment allegations at JDF

Monday, January 18, 2021

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The People's National Party (PNP) is calling on INDECOM to immediately initiate an investigation into the allegations made in a Sunday Observer article “Sex mix-up at JDF”, regarding sexual misconduct and abuse of power within the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF).

The Opposition party said the case generates significant concern around how allegations of sexual harassment of female soldiers are managed by the JDF and in particular, how The Defence Act is manipulated to punish women who speak out against harassment.

The article outlined a report that, after ending a sexual relationship with a male JDF officer, a female soldier was given 'bad duty' and eventually charged under sections 75 and 46 of The Defence Act, and sentenced to 14 days in military detention.

Read: Sex mix-up at JDF

There has been no information so far to suggest that the male officer was punished for his involvement with the female soldier.

“The discrepancies in their treatment would be discriminatory and a reflection of the chauvinism typical of many military organisations worldwide,” said the PNP in a statement Sunday evening.

Senator Donna Scott-Mottley, the PNP's spokesperson on justice and gender affairs, is appalled at the apparent sexist approach to discipline and order within the force.

She was quoted in the statement as saying: “It is totally unacceptable that two parties engage in the same act of misconduct, and the female with the lower rank is punished, while the male enjoys protection by virtue of his officer rank. This is intolerable at any time and worse now in the age of 'me too'. Our women must be assured of protection under the law.”

The party's spokesman on national security, Peter Bunting said: “The 'no comment' from the JDF's Media Officer is completely unacceptable and inconsistent with modern standards of transparency and accountability in governance. The military is accustomed to a culture of self-governance, but they are certainly not entitled to abuse any citizen nor the public's trust.

“The creation of INDECOM in 2010 signalled a new paradigm in the oversight and independent investigation of abuses of the human rights of citizens by the security forces. A female soldier is guaranteed the same rights as every citizen under the Constitution of Jamaica and the Defence Act does not supersede the Constitution.”

The PNP said it is crucial that this specific investigation be expedited, as well as a wider enquiry into the alleged culture of discrimination against female soldiers that allegedly exists in the JDF.

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