Johnson Smith warns Jamaicans not to “misdirect energies” on Delroy Chuck

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith (left) Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck (right)

Jamaica’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Kamina Johnson Smith, is cautioning citizens not to “misdirect” their energy on Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck, whose recent comments during his contribution to the Sexual Harassment Bill on Thursday (June 25), continue to receive flak.

Instead, she wants the country to focus on the changes that can be made in society through the passing of the Sexual Harassment Bill.

“If we focus on him instead of the broader issue, I believe we might misdirect energies and miss the opportunity for action,” she tweeted today, June 29.

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. While chuckling, the minister said he does not want Jamaica to mirror the #MeToo movement in the United States.

Jamaicans took to Twitter to demand the minister’s resignation after finding his comment and attitude disappointing.

While acknowledging that Chuck’s comments were inappropriate, and agreeing with the “legitimate outrage”, Johnson Smith said it was a reflection of a wider problem in society which the Sexual Harassment Bill seeks to remedy.

“Beyond legislation, broader action is also needed for all actors in society to first appreciate the problem & then to work at correction. One of the aims of the JSC [] promoted by @Babsy_grange was to allow for broader u/standing of harrassment. I hope this oppty [opportunity] is not lost,” she continued.

Chuck has issued a written and videotaped apology, but the public has not been very forgiving.

Johnson Smith sees the outrage being meted out at Chuck as a chance for the ministry to use it to sensitise the public about sexual harassment.

“Despite its pervasiveness, too many people – men & women unfortunately, do not understand the parameters of harrassment and how it affects women daily. If I had to find a silver lining I would say there is an opportunity to harness the anger and outrage directed,” she wrote.

While taking aim at the “fake political outrage grouping”, she pointed out that it was the People’s National Party (PNP) who first introduced a 12-month limitation in the bill from which this controversy arose.