Tackling the larger issue of violenceWednesday, March 31, 2021
No parent should have to endure the pain and great sense of loss that Ms Eunice Chambers, the mother of Ms Khanice Jackson, is now experiencing. But that, unfortunately, is one of life's cruel realities for some people.
Parents losing children, and especially in the most gruesome circumstances, is not unique to Jamaica, for there are evil people in every country around the world who spare no thought in taking life, leaving families and communities torn and asking, after each vile act: Why?
The brutal killing of Ms Jackson, whose body was found last week at a fishing village on the outskirts of Portmore, St Catherine, has plunged Jamaica into another bout of anger and torment over the unrelenting issue of violence against women.
Last November, as Jamaica joined the world in observing International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport announced that it had signed an implementing partnership agreement with the United Nations Population Fund as part of efforts here to eradicate violence against women and girls.
The partnership was forged through the Bureau of Gender Affairs, under the European Union-funded Spotlight Initiative — a global, multi-year partnership between the European Union and the United Nations to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
The initiative, which approaches family violence as a major public health and development issue, is focused on intervention within four parishes that have been determined to have high levels of violence towards women and girls, while work is supposed to continue on the legislation and policy aspects to impact the entire population.
We would not be surprised to learn that the novel coronavirus pandemic played a major role in limiting the impact of the initiative, as it has done with other projects that require human interaction. The reality, though, is that the problem remains, and it is particularly worrisome in a society in which toxic masculinity is an issue.
Certainly, therefore, the people charged with the responsibility of running this programme need to examine how best they can impart its message to its target audience, given the protocols that the pandemic will force us to continue observing for some time.
At the same time, we cannot ignore the possibility that the acts of violence against women and girls we see being committed here so often contribute in significant measure to the epidemic of violence that we have regrettably come to accept as normal.
That, we believe, is the overarching issue here, as there are still too many people who firmly believe that the only way to solve a dispute is to resort to violence, most times leading to the taking of life.
It will take a lot of effort to correct this problem, but we cannot afford to give up.
As we have argued before, one of the key elements to reinstating self-respect and value for human life is for communities to recognise and accept that they have a role to play in making this a more peaceful society. That, we reiterate, requires a drive led by the Government, with the support of the Opposition, so-called civil society, the Church, and others to organise communities and build leadership in those communities.
That, we believe, would be a good place to start.
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