FOUNDING pastor of Fellowship Tabernacle in St Andrew Rev Al Miller yesterday urged women to “bawl out” when they find themselves in dangerous situations, as he weighed in on the violent attacks on females across the island.
He has also called on Jamaican men to close ranks around the nation's women, to protect them from violence and abuse, as he delivered the sermon at a special church service to mark the anniversary of Digicel Jamaica, which is celebrating its 20th year of providing telecommunications services to the country.
“Our women have to learn to protect themselves, too, they must use the communication device that God built into them, and that is to scream, because God made them with a higher [vocal] frequency, so they must not feel afraid to use it,” he explained in a Jamaica Observer interview following the service.“Nothing man 'fraid of more than a screaming woman; bawl out, scream ladies, scream! Men, whenever you hear a scream, respond; communities, when you hear a scream, respond, if not you're an irresponsible citizen, you're an irresponsible man,” he stressed during the service.
He argued that men have a duty to protect women. “I challenge every man in this country. Be a real man. Real men love, real men care, real men protect our women, real men don't beat their women; it doesn't mean you won't have problems, but you deal with it right, with self-control and discipline borne out of love and care,” he told the small gathering.
“We must go back to some fundamental principles of society, that men must understand who they are. Men were made in the image of God, so therefore man intrinsically is supposed to be a person who bears the nature of God, which is love. That means we should care for, provide for and protect. That's what manhood is about. We are born male, but we become men; those creatures who beat up women, kill women, that's not a man. This abuse of our women, we have to say no to it and call men to accountability,” said the churchman.
At the same time, he said while strengthening of legislation is important as a deterrent to potential violence against women, establishing proper opportunities to deal with anger management and conflict resolution in the society is more urgent.
“Sometimes we go quickly to legislation when some of the issues have to be dealt with by education. How do you legislate a man's anger and lack of self-control? You have to train him, or else you'll be dealing with [incidents] after the fact, and after a man kills a woman, that [legislation] doesn't benefit anybody. It sends a message to others not to do it, but it doesn't help victims. So, I'm...[in support of] the kinds of actions that are preventative,” he stated.
Rev Miller said, too, that there is a clear need for conflict resolution interventions to address the spectrum of violent behaviours and crimes ailing the society. “The murders, the gang warfare and so on [is] because of an inability to manage conflict,” he pointed out.
A 2019 United Nations report showed that Jamaica had the the second highest rate of homicides of women and girls – or femicides – in the world, with the police reporting that there was a 13 per 100,000 female average murder rate.
According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, on average 12 women are murdered a day across the region. Based on the World Health Organization (WHO) list of intentional homicides of women per 100,000, Jamaica is among nine countries where this occurs most often.