We have failed... each otherMonday, April 12, 2021
The gruesome death of 20-year-old Khanice Jackson, though sparking shock and dismay, has, once again, shown us how normalised acts of violence against our women and girls have become. Without wanting to shift the attention from this young woman's unfortunate and untimely fate, one can only imagine the anguish that this event evokes in families that have lost a loved one due to a similar incident. Some families are even still in search of a girl or woman who has gone missing for days, weeks, months, and even years.
Similarly, there are victims who have survived the horror of abduction, rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence who tremble each time they see or hear of violence against their gender. What is even more horrifying for them is the fact that some of their perpetrators are still out in the streets. Who knows if they have made other victims?
We have failed each other in being responsible citizens. We do not respect boundaries and privacy. Too many men believe women owe them an obligation. It is either they capitulate or they are killed.
To make it worse, there are other men who justify these heinous acts, saying that some of these females deserve whatever happens to them. According to them, some of these women behave as though they are too nice and educated for certain men. Is it that women no longer have the right to choose who they date, marry, and engage sexually with? Why should they have to justify their yes and no?
The political and justice systems have also failed our people. We have seen numerous calls from the public court for harsher penalties on certain crimes. No wonder some citizens prefer jungle justice. Some people feel it is the only justice to which they have access. Why should a “waste man” be sent to prison to live off taxpayers' money? Why should some criminals even be eligible for parole? Why don't some of their lives be taken just as how they were brave enough to take another man's life? Then again, our country is so dependent on international aid that it has to act according to the United Nations' human rights restrictions. But isn't it against the law for criminals to prevent law-abiding citizens from living peacefully?
It is an understatement to say that a lot more needs to be done. What exactly is achieved when someone like Khanice dies and the prime minister, Opposition leader, Member of Parliament, the media, and the Church visit the family? What does that solve? Very soon she will become just a mere statistic. Another woman or little girl will covet the spotlight in short order. It is just the reality.
Nonetheless, every citizen has a personal and corporate responsibility. We must see the importance of valuing life. Truthfully, while we need to the get the guns off the streets and update our laws, to what extent can the Government and the armed forces prevent someone from taking another's life if he has purposed in his heart to do so?
There are other things that contribute to death such as jealousy, bitterness, toxic masculinity, and revenge. Additionally, some of the youngsters that engage in criminality are forced to do so by senior gang leaders or peer pressure. We need to amplify our campaigns in which we focus on respect for self, others, and the law.
Another issue we have with crime-fighting is that some citizens are divided on criminal matters, depending on who is found guilty. Through one side of their mouths they criticise deeply the average man who kills or steals, but through the other side they call for their favourite dancehall artistes to be freed. Whenever an artiste becomes an idol, many of their fans fail to see that some of the music promote hatred, discrimination, and violence. And when such an artiste is found guilty of whatever crime, they believe the judge should be lenient.
We have to project a united voice to fighting crime. You, or someone you know, could be the next victim. Let us stop violence against our girls and women, but also against all citizens. Every life matters.
Oneil Madden is a PhD candidate in didactics and linguistics at the Université Clermont Auvergne, France. He is also president of the Association of Jamaican Nationals in France (JAMINFRANCE). Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or email@example.com.
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