Elder abuse and history rewritten


Monday, September 25, 2017

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“I am appealing to Jamaicans… to enable and protect the elderly!” This was the impassioned plea from Labour and Social Security Minister Shahine Robinson as she condemned the abuse of our elderly, even from their own families. She vowed that her Government will not tolerate this. We can vouch for her sincerity, as the Caribbean Community of Retired Persons (CCRP) has received a request from Rosemarie Douglas-Beckford from the office at Parliament requesting our submission for stronger laws to protect our elderly.

Robinson's call came at the launch of Seniors Week by the National Council for Senior Citizens, a hard-working government agency chaired by Dorothy Finlayson and headed by Cassandra Morrison. We must do all in our power to ensure that our loving seniors, the bedrock of Jamaican families, churches and communities, are not exploited. There are horror stories of neglect by family members too busy squabbling over expected inheritance to attend to the well-being of their ailing parents. The hottest place in hell is reserved for such evil offspring.

Elders and caring friends and neighbours should be aware that there is some measure of protection under Jamaica's Maintenance Act of December 7, 2005, which states: “Every person who is not a minor has an obligation, to the extent that the person is capable of doing so, to maintain the person's parents and grandparents who are in need of such parent maintenance by reason of age, physical or mental infirmity or disability.”

The submission being prepared by CCRP volunteer board directors Aloun Assamba and Peter Mais will call for an Act similar to the Child Care and Protection Act, which will require that anyone who has knowledge of elder abuse and does not report it is liable for prosecution. While we work with our lawmakers, the Church and civic groups can raise awareness of this issue, plan unannounced visits, and report elder abuse incidents.

We enjoy the interesting posting of Facebook friends media guru Alma Mock Yen and journalist and songwriter Shirley Maynier Burke. Maynier Burke has set a good example for elders who are seeing their history being rewritten by unethical folks. According to attorney-at-law Dianne Daley, in an article on the International Law Office website, Maynier Burke had written a song entitled Hooligans (also known as “Hooligan”) which was produced by Studio One and performed by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Although she was credited as the songwriter in the first release in 1965, she discovered that subsequent recordings did not acknowledge her, so she was receiving no royalties from her work.

Daley writes: “In December 2007 Burke brought a claim for a declaration of authorship and ownership of copyright before the Supreme Court. The Bob Marley Foundation and JAMREC were interested parties in the claim. The foundation did not contest the claim, but JAMREC raised objections. On December 11, 2008, the court declared Burke to be the author and copyright owner of the lyrics of the song.

“By virtue of the ruling,” Daley notes, “Burke will now receive backdated royalties from 2002. She also now has the chance to receive future royalties for up to 50 years after her death, provided that the song continues to receive airplay.”

How many more elders have had their intellectual and other property stolen by pretenders? This is why my shop has volunteered so much time and resources to the CCRP Living Legacy Programme, which honours seniors who have served Jamaica beyond the call of duty. We preserve their citations to bear witness to their work and to prevent unscrupulous people from taking credit for their achievements.

Rest in peace, Violet Moss Brown

Minister Shahine Robinson paid tribute to the historic Violet Moss Brown, who, from April 15 to September 15, 2017 (153 days) was the world's oldest living person. This column takes credit for visiting and writing about Violet Moss Brown in May 2016, helping to bring her to national attention ( She was in good spirits, quoted from the Bible and recited Lord Byron's The Vision of Belshazzar without a hitch. Excerpts from the column and the photographs we took of her were used widely by international media when she was declared the world's oldest living person.

Our sympathy to her family, none of whom we should judge. We will hold on to the good memories of that beautiful day in Duanvale, Trelawny, with “Miss V” and her late son, Harold Fairweather.

Being good Caribbean neighbours

This is a sad Seniors Week for our Caribbean elderly. I have not been able to contact the dynamic Sherita Gregoire, head of the Dominica Council on Ageing. I recall her words after their terrible storm in 2015: “It is certainly a mammoth challenge that we have ahead of us, but we are a resilient people. We have been there before on several occasions and found our way with the help of the Almighty Father.” What faith!

We are giving thanks that Jamaica has so far been spared the ravages of the unprecedented force of recent hurricanes, and that corporate Jamaica has stepped up so quickly to assist with hurricane relief. Digicel has sent three shiploads of supplies to 13 affected countries, and dispatched 700 technicians to not only repair their damaged sites, but also to give humanitarian support. The entities which also sent large donations via these ships include CIBC, Rainforest Seafoods, Sandals, Wisynco, and Facey-Musson.

These extreme weather conditions are a test of our humanity; a loud call to those who will not own up to the scientific fact of climate change because of industrial greed. Those of us who have been spared should raise our voices. Please join our environmental organisations, sign the petition to save Cockpit Country, and give anything you can (money, food, clothing, bedding) via Food For the Poor or the Red Cross. We all can do something to save our human family and our planet.

Outstanding Jamaican women

We applaud the election of Allison Peart as the new president of the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) at last Tuesday's annual general meeting of the prestigious organisation. Allison is country managing partner and tax partner in Jamaica for Ernst & Young.

Kudos also to Jackie Sharp who relinquished the posts of president and chief executive officer of Scotia Group Jamaica Limited and regional head of the Caribbean Central and North division after some 20 years in management. Jackie will now be able to devote time to her fast-growing family business, Coffee Traders Limited.

Meanwhile Anya Schnoor has ascended to the post of executive vice-president – retail payments, deposits and unsecured lending at Scotiabank in Toronto, making her the most senior Caribbean national in the organisation. Congratulations to these strong Jamaican sisters.




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