Dear minister Chuck, The coronavirus disease has unleashed unprecedented times and has raised the stress level for all of us, but I hope it has not erased our compassion. My letter is written to bring to your attention the tremendous pain that your jovial remarks about sexual harassment and the #MeToo Movement have caused women.
Sexual harassment affects one in five women and causes such deep shame that for most women never goes away, and can last the victim’s whole lifetime. It is for this reason that I was appalled by your recent remarks, which I believe demonstrate how patriarchal privilege often abuses, then dismisses, the violation of women. When powerful men dismiss the sexual harassment of women, it serves to reinforce the psychological damage inflicted on women who have been victimised. These, Minister Chuck, are matters of justice, of which you hold the highest platform in this country.
It is my belief that the reason the #MeToo Movement has not taken off in Jamaica is because men are often protected by their position and privilege in society, while other men who have the power to effect change, unknowingly endorse the violation of women. It is for this reason that there must be no limits on the reporting of sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment touches us all. Our aunts, your nieces, my daughters, your own children. It makes women feel dirty and the attitude of our society makes us feel deeply ashamed. I believe that you can begin to set the right tone for the men of this country by acknowledging a lack of understanding of the impact of sexual harassment, and offering all Jamaican women a deep and profound apology for your remarks.
This is a teachable moment and I invite you as the Minister of Justice to be so engaged. The Institute for Gender and Development Studies, Regional Coordinating Office, The University of the West Indies, Regional Headquarters would be willing to offer Members of Parliament, Gender Awareness and Sensitivity Training, to assist in your understanding of the key issues affecting women in this country and how sexual harassment ruins lives.
Opal Palmer Adisa
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