Opposition calls for laws against sexual harassment
Dr Peter Phillips
The People’s National Party (PNP) has called for the instituting of policies and laws against sexual harassment in Jamaica.
It made the announcement at a press conference on Thursday amid International Women’s Day celebrations and the launch of the party's own Sexual Harassment Policy.
Opposition Leader Dr Peter Phillips said the party is deliberate about making politics a more open and welcoming space for women to thrive and to participate in leadership. He said the party wants the Sexual Harassment Bill to be re-tabled in Parliament, and called for the recommencement of the Joint Select Committee to complete the review of the Sexual Offences Act, the Child Care and Protection Act, the Domestic Violence Act and Offences against the Persons Act.
“The PNP is proud of its history to be the first to open up opportunities to women in political life. You will note that of the eleven candidates recently announced, eight of them are women.
“We see women as critical to the Party’s survival and renewal, and as sexual harassment disproportionality affects women, we want all who are survivors of sexual harassment, to be heard, to be taken seriously and to know that there is protection in the law,” Dr Phillips said.
The Party’s policy defines sexual harassment as “one or a series of incidents involving unsolicited, unwelcome or unwanted advances, any request for sexual favours or any verbal, written, visual or physical conduct of a sexual nature, whether directly or indirectly by implication.”
According to the PNP, all of these can make a person feel humiliated and/or intimidated.
Jennifer Edwards, the president of the PNP Women’s Movement, which piloted the police within the party, cited the need to move quickly while there is a rising tide of support globally.
“The commemoration of International Women’s Day this year comes amidst an unprecedented level of advocacy for women’s rights globally. Look at how hashtag #Metoo and #TimesUp led by the women in Hollywood have resonated across the world?
“This raises awareness which is critical to ending decades of sexual harassment, pay disparity and discrimination, but even more critical is the instituting of policies and laws to protect victims and survivors. Today, we say to the perpetrators of sexual harassment and misconduct in Jamaica, ‘Times up’! We will Press for Progress,” Edwards said.