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'I would have never applied for the job'

New JFJ head denies knowledge of offensive sex manual

BY KARYL WALKER Editor - Crime/Court Desk walkerk@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, July 08, 2014    

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EXECUTIVE Director of human rights lobby group Jamaicans For Justice (JFJ) Kay Osborne said she would not have accepted the job had she known about the sexual content that was inserted in a manual used by the organisation in six children's homes.

Osborne, who was appointed to head the organisation on April 2 of this year, said she was completely in the dark about the nature of the content and was not told about it when she was being briefed by her predecessor Carolyn Gomes, during the hiring process.

The subject of anal, oral and vaginal penetration were taught to children from the controversial Healthy Sexual Growth and Development in Marginalised Youth manual.

"If it was explained to me that JFJ was involved in sexual education I would have never applied for the job. It was never ever discussed with me. I have no expertise in sex education," Osborne told the Jamaica Observer yesterday.

But Osborne was not the only one left in the dark about the offensive content.

Despite an attempt to show a united face by JFJ chair Lisa Lakhan-Chen, reports have emerged that the recent resignations of board members Susan Goffe and Rodge Malcolm are signs that all is not well in the JFJ.

An impeccable Observer source said all hell broke loose when news came of the offensive content and a special meeting was called.

The meeting, the source said, was testy and resulted in a clash of ideologies between the organisation's old and new members.

Yesterday, Lakhan-Chen lauded Gomes and Goffe for their contribution to the organisation.

"We have the greatest respect for Dr Gomes and Mrs Goffe. Their contribution to the JFJ is invaluable. They have done so much for human rights in this country," she said.

Osborne came to national prominence after she compiled a list of 23 alleged cases of children being abused in places of safety and children's homes in 2002.

The list came on the heels of her blowing the whistle about the abuse of a boy whom she adopted from a home run by the United Church of Jamaica and Grand Cayman. She said the boy displayed symptoms of severe sexual abuse.

The boy, Osborne said, was subject to abuse by a male member of staff at the institution and displayed behaviour ranging from intercourse with dogs, masturbation and coercing other children into sexual acts.

Osborne was mandated to develop and has completed a strategic plan for the lobby group whose main focus is on social and economic justice, children's rights and citizens' security.

"I joined the JFJ for one reason only, service to my country. I felt that I had some skills and training in moving these issues forward. 706 children between the ages of one and 17 have been killed in four years in an environment where the state has an obligation to protect the citizens," she said.

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