Stop hurting women

November 21, 2017

November 25 is the day Internationally recognised as the Day Against Violence Against Women.

In recognition of this day, there is a myriad of events being planned across the world, including several here in Jamaica.

November 25 is also the first of 16 days of advocacy that will highlight much of the challenges that women continue to face when it comes to abuse in this country.

I want to address some of the challenges that women face daily.


Sexual Harassment on the Street


It happens too often. A woman is going to work and she has to hear a total stranger yell expletives and disrespectful things to her in the name of giving her a compliment.

For example, "My girl, come sit dung pan dis" as he grabs his crotch. Then she has to tackle the 'loader' men, who grab and pull at her when she is trying to take the bus or taxi to work.

So before she gets to work, she has been both physically and verbally assaulted.


Harassment in the Workplace


So she walks in the office and her male manager slaps her on her bottom and says, "Looking round and nice this morning." Then laughs.

She's uncomfortable and avoids this person as much as she can, but she's terrified of losing her job. When she complains to her male friends, they say "What yuh expect? Look how yuh sexy!"


Domestic Abuse and Violence


She's beaten again by her man, and now she wants to report the incident to the police. The members of the community all chime in as to why he had to hit her.

The officers at the police station ask her what she did. They try to find out what she could have done differently to avoid being beaten.

Meanwhile, her abuser is given the benefit of the doubt and she has to recover from the physical and mental scars brought on by this act.

The truth is, the examples are too many to try and cover all of them in this forum.

If you have been listening to the news lately, you would have heard several accusations of sexual misconduct by powerful men in Hollywood and politics in the US.

What does this mean? What is it that creates so many men who feel it's OK to behave so inappropriately? What can we do as a culture to better protect woman from this type of behaviour?

Typically, when we talk about violence against women, the response is to demonstrate how the women can prevent the acts and avoid being hurt.

This actually annoys me, ,because we are also holding the victim responsible for her own abuse. At some point we have to focus the attention on the perpetrator.

As we look at the various activities that are scheduled to bring awareness to the issue of violence against women, let's try to do more to protect the victims and punish the perpetrators.

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