Chang wants positive socialising of young men

Minister of National Security Dr Horace Chang says there is a need for changes in the way young men are socialised in Jamaica.

According to the minister, many young Jamaican men believe that power only comes through the barrel of a gun: “He is feared. That’s his power”.

He said that most arguments about violence against women focus on increasing the sensitivity and the protection of women, without taking into consideration that cultural form is to send young women to school and young men to work in the farms leading to disparity in relationships.

“Every time we discuss gender violence, the question of how we approach our young men is an addendum…But if we can reduce the number of perpetrators we won’t have a problem…It is a Jamaican culture that we need to get rid of. We really have to spend more time looking at how we can socialise them,” he told Wednesday’s meeting of a Joint Select Committee on Law Reform (ZOSO) (Special Security and Community Development Measures) Act, 2017 at Gordon House.

Dr Chang was responding to issues raised by research consultant with the UNDP in Kingston, Carol Watson Williams, after reading a submission from the UN body.

According to her, family violence has far-reaching consequences, which extends well beyond the victims themselves.

She said that family violence is a precursor for generalised violence. Hence, any attempt to address the issue of crime broadly, and violent crime in particular, in the zones of special operations (ZOSOs), must be anchored in an understanding of the synergy between the violence that takes place in the family, and is perpetrated in particular on women and children, and the violence that takes place in the community.

According to her, international research shows that men who beat their partners, also assault their children; and children who suffer or witness abuse become more likely to use violence as adults.

“We know, from our own data in Jamaica, that abuse has persistent intergenerational effects, with men who have witnessed their mothers being abused being more likely to become abusers as well,” she said.

“The pattern also holds for women as well, with those who saw their mothers abused by their partners, being more likely to also experience abuse by their partners. Violence in the family and violence in the community have a symbiotic relationship; one normalises the other,” she noted.

However, she said that the situation was not unique to Jamaica, and the UN has been grappling with issues of sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment by its own peace keeping forces, and there are numerous reports about sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment of women in communities which are under the control of security forces across the globe.

She said that by ‘sexual exploitation and abuse’, the body is referring to crimes like rape, but also violations of any ban on sexual relationships that include “abuse of position of vulnerability” which is likely applied to residents in the ZOSOs.

The parliamentary committee, headed by Dr Chang as the minister of national security, is reviewing the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations), Special Security and Community Development Measures Act, which was first passed in 2017 and which guides joint military/police operations in the zoned areas. .

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