“Avoid highlighting your attractiveness…”


“Practice the buddy system”, said Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, head of the Corporate Communications Unit. “This is one of the most important rules to avoid being abducted” said the Senior Cop.

This is the first line of a news release from the Jamaica Constabulary Force, which has been circulating on social media over the past few days. It instructs women on how to remain safe at night. It does not instruct men how to avoid assaulting women. That news release would just read, DON’T DO IT, I guess. Or maybe, STAY HOME IF YOU FEEL YOU MAY ASSAULT OR DISRESPECT A WOMEN. Or TALK TO SOMEONE IF YOU ARE HAVING THESE FEELINGS.

As someone on social media pointed out, the burden is on the woman to avoid being assaulted. I would also point out that there is no background or context. Why is this release out now? Did something precipitate it? Are more women being assaulted than usual? Are women more clueless lately about how to stay safe, or are men feeling more entitled than usual when it comes to taking what they want from women?

As the release suggests, women must not be so attractive as to garner male attention.

Keep a low profile. There are many ways to avoid highlighting your attractiveness to an abductor by downplaying on your financial status, dressing modestly, not wearing expensive jewellery and not openly carrying expensive electronics.

My female students tell me that some of them miss class or leave early to avoid being out at night. They also tell me of assaults that are not reported in the news. So perhaps this release is merited, it just seems misdirected.

I leave the release in full below:

JAMAICA CONSTABULARY FORCE
CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS UNIT
NEWS RELEASE
MONDAY, 2017-02-06

TAKE PRECAUTIONS, PREVENT ABDUCTION
“Practice the buddy system”, said Superintendent Stephanie Lindsay, head of the Corporate Communications Unit. “This is one of the most important rules to avoid being abducted” said the Senior Cop.

If you must travel alone, follow these safety rules:
1. Always inform others of your whereabouts. Inform a trusted friend, relative or colleague – give information about where you are going, who you intend to meet with and when you expect to return.

2. Keep a low profile. There are many ways to avoid highlighting your attractiveness to an abductor by downplaying on your financial status, dressing modestly, not wearing expensive jewellery and not openly carrying expensive electronics.

3. Watch your alcohol intake. The effects of alcohol can impair your judgement and make you less alert to your surroundings. Avoid accepting drinks from persons you are not familiar with.

4. If you go to a party never leave your drink unattended even in the company of persons you know and trust.

5. Carry a mobile phone. You can use it to text the licence plate information of the vehicle in which you are travelling to a trusted person. Remember to download the Ministry of National Security “Stay Alert” Application from the Google Play Store.

6. Avoid illegal ‘public’ transportation.

· Especially women travelling alone. Use an official taxi service or a reputable driver. If possible do not take a taxi with all male passengers especially in areas that you are not familiar with.

· Before entering a taxi or any other vehicle take a picture of the car to include any words or images, registration plate and send it via text or other social media to a relative or a trusted friend.

· It is best to let the driver of the taxi or car know that you are sending the information; it could serve as a deterrent. However, you could discretely take a picture of the driver and send it out as well.

7. Vary your pattern-of-life. Avoid setting patterns. If possible, take different routes to frequently visited locations, don’t travel at the same time of day or eat at different restaurants.

8. Never be afraid to scream. If you are being taken against your will, do not hesitate to scream for help and alert persons around you. Your attacker will be taken off guard.

9. Limit use of social media. Avoid advertising your every move on social media and be careful not to provide personal information to individuals you have never met in person.

10. False information puts lives at risk. Persons are also being asked to stop putting false information about abduction and missing persons in social media because it could amount to a ‘wolf, wolf’ situation and end up jeopardizing the safety of someone who is genuinely in need of assistance.

11. Lastly, always remember to trust your instincts and if it does not feel right, chances are it is not, so always err on the side of caution by acting as if something is wrong.

Scary stuff, for many reasons.

New Testament


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The other day as I was entering UTech’s campus, I noticed a group of well-dressed men handing out small books to drivers. Just after I picked up the parking card from the security guard, one of them handed me a small blue book. The New Testament.

I asked my students about this, and they said they do this when crime seems to be worse.

Renk-ness


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In some areas of urban Kingston, one must plug one’s nose when walking through public spaces like HalfWay Tree or Parade in downtown, otherwise one is an assaulted by odor. I never got used to it on my walk to the HalfWay Tree coaster every morning when I was working on Camp Road. The odor is urine, to be specific. You can also be treated to watching men in the act, anywhere, anytime in Kingston. Public peeing is the norm here, unfortunately, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of Jamaican dollars per month, according to the Jamaica Gleaner.

In addition to public education campaigns, and perhaps more funding for public restrooms, could this be a solution? In France, where ‘le pipi sauvage’ is also apparently a problem, men can now use a public urinal for free. The Uritrottoir directs the urine to a small garden in a box, which over time will be used for composting. They are painted bright red and cost about 3,000 Euros each. This seems a bit steep for Jamaica’s coffers, however. I guess for now we must remain accustomed to the sights and smells of public urination.