“Outlaw sexual harassment on the streets, including catcalls”
That recommendation, was among a 13-point list of recommendations presented by an “AIDs and gender advocate”, when he appeared before a joint select committee of the Jamaican parliament receiving submissions on the Sexual Harassment Bill 2019.
For example “Damn girl that ass looks fine”.
I have no opposition to measures designed to restore respect, civility and decency to interactions between males and females, but I do strongly oppose laws that that are near impossible to enforce.
You see, I firmly believe that nothing undermines the rule of law more than passing laws that are never enforced and, here in Jamaica, we have far too many laws of that ilk.
Catcalling and grabbing of members of the fairer sex, is indeed a serious public order challenge, but I suggest passing a law is not the solution.
Many of my Jamaican brothers are innocent of all charges of being charming, suave, subtle or sophisticated when interacting with females.
Indeed, many cavemen would recoil in horror to hear some men describe what they are desirous of doing to women, complete strangers to them, who just happen to be passing by.
As one writer observed, they are not shy to make “comments alluding to the fatness, tightness or stiffness” of women’s privates.
So the challenge is real.
However, in a country where we cannot or seldom enforce traffic laws; where the murder clear-up rate is some 30% or less; and where corruption in public office is said to be as normal as breathing, I do not see the police devoting a lot of resources to a lady complaining a lout told her “Damn girl that ass looks fine” or something worse.
It might make more sense for the authorities to embark on a public education campaign, utilising traditional and social media to educate men on appropriated behaviour.
This campaign should include the church, schools, youth clubs, citizens’ associations, providers of public transportation, civic groups, etc. in this endeavour to effect behavioural change.
We must also acknowledge that some in our population of males are incorrigible and the campaign will do little to change their behaviour. We may be left will no alternative but to deal with them as God dealt with the Israelites in the wilderness, that is, they were allowed to die in the wilderness and not cross over into the Promised Land.
Hopefully the younger generation of males will get the message and over time we will see improvements in their behaviour.
This, to me, is a better approach than the recommended outlawing to which little, if any attempt at enforcement will be made.