Sunday 23 February, 2020

Terrelonge says 'toxic masculinity' fueling violence against women

Alando Terrelonge

Alando Terrelonge

Minister of State in the Ministry of Education, Youth and Information, Alando Terrelonge says “toxic masculinity” within Jamaican society must be addressed as a matter of urgency in order to reduce the incidence of violence against women.

Terrelonge’s appeal comes against the background of the recent deaths of three women allegedly at the hands of the men with whom they were romantically involved.

The brutal nature of the killings has sent shockwaves across the country.

“It is something that we do not recognize or freely like to speak about,” said Terrelonge addressing Tuesday’s sitting of the House of Representatives.

“There can be no proper discussion around domestic violence involving the physical abuse of women which sometimes end in death in extreme circumstances without addressing the question of toxic masculinity in our country”.

The state minister said we can no longer make a connection between such behavior and cultural norms.

He said: “It’s a major problem in our country when certain men believe that they own women, that women are their property, and if they make an investment in the woman and the woman somehow cheat on them or give them ‘bun’ or somehow no longer wants to be in the relationship, then they believe that somehow their feelings are hurt, their egos are bruised and they must now somehow retaliate and that retaliation now leads to the abuse and oftentimes the death of women who now want out (of the relationship)”.

Terrelonge also said, as a country, we must recognise that women are not the property of men.

“We must also recognise that if a woman decides for whatever reason that she wishes to leave the relationship, let her go, she does not belong to you”.

For her part, the Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, Olivia Grange, in a ministerial statement in the House, appealed to persons involved in domestic disputes to seek help.

“I wish to appeal to persons who are involved in situations of conflict, to seek the necessary counselling and psycho-social support.  Too often, these situations result in acts of violence and are often life-threatening and rob our families of hard-working and productive community members,” Grange said.

She questioned why someone would kill someone they profess to love and described the recent killings as the “horrific monster of gender-based violence”.

“It (gender-based violence) is a reflection of the culture of violence and silence and is reinforced by various structural and systemic inequalities in the home, in socio-economic systems and systems of justice,” Grange stated.

She told the House that the government has continued to pursue legislative solutions that will bring greater protection to women.

“And we will intensify the 'No Excuse for Abuse' public education campaign, to ensure that the scourge of gender-based violence is treated with urgent attention and strong operational measures,” she added.

In her contribution to the debate, Opposition spokesperson on gender affairs, Denise Daley, described the increasing levels of violence against women as a “serious epidemic” that required urgent attention.

She urged community members to play their part in tackling the problem, noting that oftentimes neighbours are aware of the stated intention of the offender to inflict harm upon the victim.

Daley also said more shelters were needed for abused women and she pleaded with Minister Grange to ensure that the revision of legislation to tackle the problem is fast-tracked. She said the schools played an important role in the way children are socialised and that family life education should be reintroduced in the schools.

In his brief contribution to the debate, Opposition Member of Parliament for North Clarendon, Horace Dalley, said a man who beats a woman is not a real man.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, Jamaica Defence Force Corporal, Doran McKenzie reportedly chopped and shot his common-law wife Suianne Easy to death before turning the gun on himself at their Greater Portmore home in Portmore, St Catherine following a protracted dispute.

Hours later, 27-year-old Nevia Sinclair, an employee of the National Works Agency, was stabbed to death while in bed at her parents’ home in Brinkley district, St Elizabeth allegedly by the man with whom she shared an abusive relationship. Sinclair had broken off the relationship and returned home.

A man is in police custody in relation to Sinclair’skilling.

And on New Year’s Eve, 24-year-old Shantel Whyte, an inventory clerk of Wilbin Street, Grey Ground in Manchester, was shot multiple times by her lover while at work.

The police have since arrested and charged 30-year-old Andre Bromfield of New Green district, also in Manchester, with Whyte’s murder.

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