Former Minister of National Security KD Knight has asserted that more women will die in Jamaica if there isn't widespread behavioural change soon, especially among young men.
He said at present, there is a popular belief that has been passed down through generations, where men have been socialised to view women as weak, and as their property.
“Yes,” he responded when asked by the Jamaica Observer if he foresees more women being killed mercilessly across the island, because of poor socialisation among men.
“You can say more women will be victims to soften it a little, because that kind of backward thinking is almost passed down, so that there are youngsters who are growing up now who are going to be infected by that perverse reasoning. So, we need massive community intervention. It is not simply a matter of incarceration, because that's after the fact. That is after a woman is dead. The aim is to save lives, not administer punishment. We need attitudinal changes and islandwide programmes of re-socialisation,” Knight told the Observer in an interview. “The pervasive violence against women that exists in the society comes from the propensity to move against anyone that is weak or perceived to be weak.”
A murder-suicide in St Thomas on Good Friday was the most recent of the vicious attacks against women. The police reported that Roger Johnson stabbed his ex-girlfriend, 47-year-old Lorraine Hutchinson, to death about 9:30 am. He committed suicide.
Natalie Dawkins, a teacher of Four Paths Primary and Junior High School, has been missing since Tuesday, March 30. Her motor vehicle was found four days later in Bellas Gate, St Catherine, and one of the men believed to be involved in her disappearance was shot dead after he and another man engaged the police in a shootout. A decomposing body found on Thursday is believed to be that of Dawkins.
Khanice Jackson, 20, an accounting clerk who police theorise was killed between 7:00 and 9:00 on the morning of March 24, 2021, was allegedly strangled by 50-year-old Robert Fowler with a piece of rope. According to the police, he then hid her body inside his house in Portmore, St Catherine, went to work, then returned home and later disposed of it.
On Sunday, January 31, Andrea Lowe-Garwood, a 51-year-old bank manager of Brook Manor in Falmouth, Trelawny, was shot and killed inside a church on Market Street in the parish.
Women being aware of these brutal killings, Knight added, forces them to not only live in fear.
“They have to be very careful how they themselves react, because they can intensify the kind of violent disposition of men. So, they are being put under tremendous pressure of fear on one hand, and then they have to be so measured in their response. They are under tremendous mental pressure,” he lamented.
Knight, who was minister of national security and justice for 12 years, also said that now would be an ideal time for women in parliament from both political parties to unite and advocate for a common goal, which is to end violence against women.
However, he pointed to petty political partisanship that prevents such a thing.
“The way the politics work, it is not really a situation where what we get is a unity of purpose around an issue that affects the wide society. What we have is really political one-upmanship. The unity of purpose is not there. It gets to the ridiculous position that if part A is successful in dealing with a problem, then that enhances their chances of success in the next election,” he reasoned.
“So the thinking is that don't support. And then if party B in opposition gives a commendable view as to how a problem can be dealt with and contained, it those in power accept, then somehow, they think it affects their capacity and their chances at the poll. We're in a vicious kinda circle which prevents a unity of purpose.”
Further, Knight appealed to women to extricate themselves from hazardous relationships where possible.
“As soon as they see tendencies of violence, they are to seek help from whichever quarter is available to them. Once they apprehend danger, then they must immediately seek help. It can't simply be about catching the perpetrator because by then the horse has gone through the gate.”