Above: Jamaicans marching Friday against domestic abuse
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Jamaicans took to the streets Friday to voice their outrage over the country’s continued crime wave, and particularly a recent incident involving the rape of five women in Montego Bay, a moment National Security Minister Peter Bunting called a potential turning point for the country.
“This horrible incident can be a watershed, a turning point, an opportunity for all people of goodwill in Montego Bay and in Jamaica to decide that we are collectively going to ensure that we all turn our face against criminality of any sort; against harbouring criminals in our homes and in our communities, and starting to ensure that our children, our women and our boys are not exposed to what happened,” Bunting told a group in Sam Sharpe Square in St James.
The victims of the incident on Monday included an eight-year-old child, two teenagers and two adults. The Jamaica Constabulary Force said Friday that it interviewed the main suspect picked up in the rape incident, which took place in Irwin, St James.
“Your children deserve better, your parents and grandparents deserve better,” he said. “I read in the media of so many young ladies, students and persons of all ages who feel they have to run home and lock up behind burglar bars, as they are afraid to be on the road when night falls,” Bunting said. “This is the time to take a stand, turn your face against all types of criminality.”
He encouraged the people of Jamaica, which has been dealing with a severe crime problem for some time, to take a stand against crime, from illegal lottery scams to violent murders.
Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, who returned to Jamaica Friday from New York, said she endorsed the protests, which she said were a signal that Jamaica would not tolerate crime and violence.
Simpson Miller also said Jamaica’s government was drafting regulations to accompany the Sexual Offences Act to include a provision for a sex offenders’ registry. They will soon be taken before cabinet, she said.
“The government’s resolve in providing the required resources, support and laws to fight crime has been strengthened and we are moving swiftly to implement measures such as the sex offenders’ registry which is already provided for in law,” she said.
She said the protests “sent a powerful, unequivocal and unmistakable message to criminals that they will find no escape from the law and no refuge among law-abiding Jamaicans.”