Public divided on Brown’s jungle justice solution
Several Jamaicans yesterday gave mixed responses to Opposition Senator Lambert Brown’s support for jungle justice to address the issue of violence against women and girls in the event that the law fails to deal with offenders.
Brown had last Friday declared in the Upper House that if any of his female relatives are violated, he would take action to punish the assailant, in the absence of the rule of law.
He made the statement during a heated debate on the controversy over Member of Parliament for Westmoreland Central George Wright, who is believed to be the man seen in a now viral video violently assaulting a woman.
Brown has since been criticised for his comments and some commentators have suggested that he should apologise. However, he has stoutly defended his position.
Here are the responses of some Jamaicans interviewed by the Jamaica Observer in Half-Way-Tree, St Andrew.
A 61-year-old woman who gave her name only as Mrs Rob, said Brown should not apologise. “I was a victim of violence — real cruel violence — and if I had someone to defend me at that time, what happened for about three years maybe would not have happened. I have a daughter who also experienced the same situation and when it started I said, ‘Look, get out of this before it escalates.’ I also have two granddaughters and if anybody lays a hand on them… trust me, I don’t know if I would be the one to stand up and watch that happen. I am not saying it [what he said] is right, but it’s his view. [But] we should really allow the law to take its course to see what happens.”
Shantel, 30, also agreed that Brown should not apologise, saying that she believes any such action would be fair, especially in the absence of the rule of law.
“Maybe after the fact, the Government would see that they didn’t do anything about it and they would want to probably help afterwards. Mi nuh wrong him. Jump in, of course. If it was me, I would want to do the same too,” she said.
Shannon Green, 26, said: “I think that it is right in a sense where he would do it out of frustration, based on the fact that he is not getting any justice from the situation. Some people would view it as wrong, based on a religious perspective — to let go and let God be with it. [But] I would say he should let go and let God be with it. I wouldn’t want to take up any form of jungle justice or take up matters in my own hands. I think he should apologise.”
Jephthah McLean, 24, told the Observer that Brown’s statement was inappropriate, as he holds a leadership position.
“As a lawmaker who is in charge of making certain legislations, he cannot have the liberty to just speak out of turn, [especially] in that way. When you take on the jungle justice to say that if someone does something to a family member and the law cannot help that situation and you are going to take up matters into your own hands… how are you different from the criminals or unscrupulous persons? He should definitely make amends. You are someone who has an important place in society and you have to act accordingly,” said McLean.
Rudolph White, 66, agreed that Brown should retract the comment, “but this is Jamaica where sometimes people take matters in their own hands. He should apologise because he is a lawmaker. His decision was wrong; he should have kept that to himself”.
Deandra Davis, 27, said that Brown should act according to the rule of law.
“In a general sense, the fact that they are the lawmakers and they are the ones who tell us not to say certain things — they are even against the musician singing certain things — then they should follow suit and restrain from saying things that they know are not with the law. I think even if he felt that way he should have kept it to himself,” said Davis.
A 54-year-old who gave his name as Yellowman, said he believes the senator is setting a bad example for Jamaicans.
“As a man inna the Parliament, him shouldn’t mek that statement. Him should approach it a different way as people look up to dem type a person deh. When yu mek a statement like that, weh yu think the rest of Jamaica who have dem daughter or son, weh dem a go think? Dem a go do what him say,” he said.
Cassandra, 61, shared the same sentiment.
“I don’t support jungle justice because sometimes we not sure if the person who a get it, really deserve it. Lawmakers shouldn’t be lawbreakers. He is encouraging the jungle justice. If you have the law, you should allow it to take its course,” she said.
A 52-year-old vendor who gave his name as Blacks said: “A nuh good situation that and him should apologise, ’cause him in a higher position. But a ordinary man like me would defend it if the police nah step in.”
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