Scores of Jamaicans on social media continue to call for Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck to offer a public apology and/or resign from his post amid growing backlash to comments he made during his contribution to the sexual harassment bill on Thursday (June 25).
Minister Chuck contended that he was against the recommendation for a proposed two-year limit with which persons could report instances of sexual harassment and assault, adding he does not want to see a Jamaican reiteration of the ‘Me Too’ movement, which has promulgated in the United States.
He wanted the timeline to remain at twelve months and not a day longer.
“We don’t want the situation that now happens in the ‘Me Too’ movement in the US, where 30 years later you talk about ‘I was harassed in the elevator.’ No. If you don’t complain within 12 months, please, cut it out,” he said, chuckling.
The tone-deaf response has triggered a flurry of tweets and posts by Jamaican Twitter users, who have expressed their disappointment and anger at Chuck’s comments, calling the rhetoric dismissive and disrespectful to persons grappling with sexual trauma.
So much so, the parliamentarian has been the number trending topic over the last 48-hours.
In a statement on Friday, Chuck said that his jovial nature was not meant to diminish the seriousness of the matter, however, his assurance that he took his responsibility with the greatest of care fell on deaf ears.
“If persons interpret my joviality as a lack of empathy, it was not meant and never intended to undermine the severity of the matter at hand. I do appreciate that sexual harassment is a serious and traumatic subject. As Minister of Justice, I do take my role seriously to ensure lawmakers give the issues their full attention and consideration,” he tweeted.
The comments seemed not to be a reflection of his prior actions, as Twitter users were quick to highlight.
A wide cross-section of Twitter users condemned Minister Chuck’s contribution to the debate, saying 12 months is inconsequential in the lives of alleged perpetrators, who could wait out the period and be ‘protected’ by the provisions of law.