Thirteen years ago Jamaica went into collective grief after news came that 11-year-old Ananda Dean, who had been missing for two weeks, had been brutally murdered. Both her mother, Nordia Campbell, and her aunt Tamika Campbell fainted when they learned the terrible details. It was after this chilling event that the Ananda Alert was established, demanding immediate police action when a child goes missing.
On the first anniversary of the disappearance of 20-year-old The University of the West Indies student Jasmine Dean, last month, her father sounded empty and exhausted, relating his sleepless nights and his anguished calls for justice.
The unrelenting missing persons announcements fill us with dread, as often the worst news follows. Only last week accounting clerk Khanice Jackson went missing after leaving for work on Wednesday morning. On Friday news came that her body had been found near the Portmore Fishing Village. The police now have a suspect in custody.
Meanwhile, the courts are in the process of sentencing Jermaine Miller, who is convicted of the murder of his former girlfriend, Nevia Sinclair, at her parents' home last year. What is it about these men who will not allow a woman to go in peace if she wants to end the relationship?
WMW Jamaica (formerly Women's Media Watch) has been warning, for years, about the danger of objectifying women in the disturbing lyrics of some dancehall music and music videos showing more close-ups of women's body parts than of the women themselves. I understand that there are video games doing the rounds since the late 90s which give scores for seizing women and raping them. Now, can you imagine a boy playing this repeatedly until such a crime becomes normalised in his mind?
Our girls and women are in grave danger, not only here in Jamaica but throughout the world. We learned that President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan withdrew last week from the Istanbul Convention drafted in his own country in 2011, an international treaty to combat violence against women. It is understood that hundreds of women in that country are murdered with impunity each year by relatives, citing these as “honour killings”. Women gathered last week in London to mourn and protest the death of Sarah Everard, a 33-year-old woman who vanished earlier this month while walking home in Clapham, south London. The women interviewed by the British Broadcasting Corporation ( BBC) said they were in fear of their lives.
One of the most horrific crimes in recent days was a gunman's attack on women in three massage parlours in Atlanta, Georgia. Incredibly, his lawyer is trying to offer as his defence that he is a victim of sexual addiction.
As women try to protect themselves, comedian Trevor Noah became very serious on the topic, demanding that men must take responsibility for their behaviour. He said they had no business commenting to women they do not know on their manner of dress or catcalling them. He called on men to respect and protect women.
While we call for men to be more responsible, women know this will not happen overnight. We hope we will be allowed to carry mace and pepper spray. Also, here is a tip I posted on Twitter that has gone viral. This is how you set up the SOS feature on your android phone:
- Go to Settings
- Click on Advanced Features
- Click on SOS and put in names of emergency contacts
- Then if you are in danger you press your power button three times and it sends a message and your location.
My friend Judith Lannigan McDonald says the iPhone has 'Emergency SOS' in settings so you click on that and proceed as above.
In the midst of growing number of COVID-19 cases and related deaths, 40 new fines for breaches of the preventative orders were approved by both Houses of Parliament. You can now be fined $500 for not wearing a mask in public and $10,000 for breaking curfew. A coronavirus-positive person who does not isolate will be fined $50,000. Not even the Church is spared; along with illegal bars, unlawful church services and funerals will attract a fine of $100,000.
Meanwhile, we learned that India will be halting exports of AstraZeneca vaccines as they have also had a spike in cases. It seems that we have grown more accepting of the safety of the vaccine as the 75-year-olds turned out in their numbers during the past week to be inoculated.
Bishop Thompson's Redemption Song
The launch of Bishop Robert Thompson's book Redemption Song: Reading the Scripture for Social Change was hosted virtually last Thursday by Christine Randle, CEO of Ian Randle Publishers. The retired Anglican bishop of Kingston has often given us a reality check on our social conditions and his book calls on the Church to take a different approach to theology.
Thompson refers to “the deep legacy of colonialism” which he believes “continues to stifle” our national development. He is challenging the Church to cast away Euro-American interpretations of scripture and share a theology that “embraces and affirms all people across class and culture”.
In the book's foreword, Archbishop of the West Indies Howard Gregory noted its importance for educators and students as well as lay leaders involved in “serious study of the Bible and gospel as 'midwives' for social transformation”.
This should be an excellent read during this Holy Week. This past year has shown us that we can pivot and thrive.