Positive moves…but much more needed!Tuesday, August 03, 2021
Members of the Advocacy Network are extremely encouraged that the House of Representatives passed the Sexual Harassment (Protection and Prevention) Bill.
We commend all the gender advocates who have been agitating for this development since the 1999 survey, which revealed that 33 per cent of public sector employees were subjected to sexual harassment and only 13 per cent reported it. We especially commend Minister Olivia Grange for her leadership in piloting this Bill in the face of many detractors. We anxiously await Senate approval and final enactment.
In the context of this positive development, we are extremely disappointed in the negative remarks of People's National Party (PNP) vice-presidents elect Richard Azan and Ian Hayles, who attacked and questioned the mental capacity of Manchester Central Member of Parliament (MP), the Jamaica Labour Party's (JLP's) Rhoda Moy Crawford.
However, we are encouraged by the quick, positive response of the PNP Women's Movement President Patricia Sutherland, followed by the Azan-Hayles joint apology.
While these positive steps are encouraging, we are mindful of the violent, abusive environment that persists in many households across Jamaica, which continues to threaten the health and well-being of family members, especially women and children. This was recently highlighted with the alleged beating to death of four-year-old Nashawn Brown by his stepfather, followed by the physical assault of his mother.
We need exemplary leadership across all walks of society to address this national crisis of violence and abuse. The highest standards of behaviour are expected from our leaders, especially our political leaders, who we expect to adhere to the national policies and laws that they set for society. We, therefore, continue to encourage our leaders to do the right thing.
Firstly, MP George Wright should end his silence or resign. Given the absence of any clear, unequivocal denial that he was the man in video that circulated shortly after his report, we continue to question his honesty about the “physical altercation” that he reported to the police on April 6, 2021. We are also very disappointed at the delay in bringing MP Wright before Parliament's Ethics Committee to seek his suspension from the House. This is a moral imperative that parliamentarians must address.
Secondly, we await the long overdue findings of the PNP Disciplinary Committee's investigation into the matter surrounding Group Chairman Karen Cross and General Secretary Dayton Campbell.
On Thursday, July 29, 2021 we again encouraged the public to join the 'Thursdays in Black' campaign to end gender-based violence (GBV). Under the theme 'No More Silent Cries' we spoke out against violence and abuse against our children, and demanded amendments to the Child Care and Protection Act (2004).