PM urges J'cans to refrain from carrying out acts of violenceMonday, August 02, 2021
THE increased acceptance of using violence as an alternative to resolve disputes in the country has pushed Prime Minister Andrew Holness to encourage citizens to desist from the practice as Jamaica observed Emancipation Day yesterday.
In his Emancipation Day message, Holness argued that presently there is a belief widely held in the society that the physical being of another person is not inviolable, as he pointed out issues of corporal punishment, intimate partner violence, and gang-related violence.
“What would our forebears think of us that we have become so comfortable with the use of violence on our own, that the very tool of oppression that the slave drivers used on them we are now using it on ourselves? They would be baffled and shocked, because freedom for them would have meant freedom from violence or the threat of violence,” said Holness.
Emancipation Day marks the abolition of slavery.
The British Colonial Government announced the ending of slavery on August 1, 1834. However, slaves did not gain freedom until 1838, as there was a compulsory four-year period of additional free labour which was described as apprenticeship.
Noting that the acts of violence occur every day, Holness said, “We the people who suffered this violence for centuries at the hands of oppressors, today inflict it on our own and, worse, defend their use as necessary to discipline our children, 'Pickney fi get lick, spare the rod and spoil the child'; necessary as a show of love to our intimate partner, 'She believe him luv har why him beat har'; and necessary to bring order to our household and community, 'Him violate, so him fi dead.”
Holness also stressed that he is very concerned by the frequency and increasing brutality of acts of violence being reported.
“We have been spiralling along this path for some time without instrumental and direct Government intervention. And I know that I am not alone in the observation that our society is becoming increasingly callous, brutal and numb to violence. Nevertheless, I am positive that we can transform our country into a kinder, gentler and more caring society,” he said.
“Let us all reflect on our own lives and see how we have used any form of violence and how we can replace a harsh word with an endearment, a quarrel with reason and a clenched fist with an elbow bump,” said Holness.
Opposition Leader Mark Golding noted that Emancipation Day not only marks the end of slavery in the country, but also celebrates the heroic resilience of our fore-parents.
“The fact is that no form of compensation was paid to those who were enslaved for the unpaid extraction of their labour and the life in bondage that they endured. The profound negative effects of that period of our history continue to be endured to this day, and the growing call for reparations remains unyielding but has not yet been answered,” he said.
At the same time, former Prime Minister PJ Patterson said Emancipation requires citizens to release their creative potential and fully liberate their minds.
“We need to build that bridge which spans the Middle Passage and permits that closer bond which globalisation demands. We have to do this for our own human dignity. We are not beggars seeking alms, we are victims seeking justice for a most heinous crime against humanity. No statute of limitation exists to deny our claims,” said Patterson.
Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login