Nelson Mandela once said, “Rhetoric Is not important, actions are.”
The Jamaican government, drowning in a sea of platitudes and promises has attempted to respond to Jamaicans advocating for an end to the violation of child rights by the state.
The Assault on Reason in the Jamaican Anti-Sodomy Debate
Recently, various factions of the church have ceased their denominational bickering and united to wage ‘holy war’ against a new enemy: the Jamaican human rights movement. Some Christian groups have viewed the recent court challenge against the buggery law by Javed Jaghai, as well as Minister of Youth and Culture Lisa Hanna’s suggestion to review Jamaica’s abortion law as a form of spiritual warfare that demands an active response.
In 2011, then backbencher the Reverend Ronald Thwaites, Member of Parliament for Central Kingston, raised a long-standing problem, the sectoral debates in Parliament. The sectoral debate, which follows the budget debate, is a platform for every single Member of Parliament to address the House. Portfolio Ministers use the opportunity, naturally, to speak about their portfolios, opposition spokesman and women also tend to address portfolio issues, and backbenchers tend to concentrate on their constituencies.
In a continued effort to raise awareness on the abuse and neglect of children in state care by the government, at Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) we’ve launched a mini video series dubbed “The Children Inside.” These short videos tell the true story of wards of the state and provide important contextual information on the systematic abuse and human rights violations by the Jamaican government.
Meet Candine, she is a former ward of the state and survivor of state abuse and neglect. Candine survived the 2009 Armadale fire that killed seven teenage girls in a government run juvenile facility. She shares her story and speaks about the years of abuse and neglect of children in the care of the state. She gives insight into the violent treatment of girls by supervisors and the unsanitary and degrading living conditions. She is truly courageous.
“Jamaica is a funny place when it comes to this thing of values and attitudes. We are far more comfortable with holding our wayward children accountable for their actions than we are with holding our elected officials accountable for theirs.”
- Susan Goffe, Advocate
It’s time to lift up NOT lock up our children.
For far too long, vulnerable children have suffered at the hands of the Jamaican government. These children run from a life of abuse in society and end up being abused in government facilities. It’s time that the Jamaican people demand REAL, SPECIFIC and DATA-DRIVEN action from the authorities on fixing the structural flaws that have been ignored for far too long.
Ministers Lisa Hanna and Peter Bunting are responsible for safeguarding the rights of children in state care. The children however continue to suffer due to lip-service, ineffective task forces and bureaucratic delay. As Jamaicans, we must demand immediate action to avoid the further abuse and neglect of children across the island.
It’s time to #LiftUpNotLockUpOurChildren
Check out this short storyfrom our Child Rights Working Group at Jamaicans for Justice