Taskforce recommends new law to ministry

| 17/02/2009

(CNS): After almost four years of work, the Stalking and Sexual Harassment Taskforce has provided recommendations to the Ministry of Health and Human Service to help it form legislation offering victims much needed protection from this kind of abuse, which is common in the Cayman community. Joannah Bodden Small, the Chair of the taskforce, said that following considerable analysis of the research and comparative data, the taskforce was hopeful that laws would be enacted that would offer meaningful protection.

Small explained that government now had the Legislative Recommendations, the Survey Report the Research Report and the video documentary "Protect Cayman", with the goal of helping the ministry create the framework for the necessary new laws . “We have requested that our recommendations be considered by the government with a view to implementing new laws to protect victims of stalking and sexual harassment in the Cayman Islands,” she said.

Small added that aside from the original survey results and the research report, the committee had submitted information which contained a summary of Cayman’s existing legal regime and a review of 11 jurisdictions that have legislated on the issues.

“The Survey Report concluded that both stalking and sexual harassment were indeed occurring in the Cayman Islands, with 1 in every 2 respondents experiencing some form of stalking as described in the survey and 2 in every 5 respondents experiencing some form of sexual harassment as described in the survey,” Small added.

The Survey Report confirmed an overwhelming support for legislation against stalking and sexual harassment with 92.7% of those who took part stating they supported legislation being implemented against stalking and 94.6% of supporting legislation against sexual harassment.

“We hope that our arguments for the implementation of new legislation, and the manner in which such legislation should be approached, will be persuasive and actioned as soon as possible,” Small said.

The need for new and separate legislation is based on a number of issues, not least the fact that when incidents were reported to them, the Family Support Unit of The RCIPS said their power to address complaints of harassment and stalking was limited to where the complaints fell within an existing offence in Cayman’s laws.

This has often meant exercising powers under laws that were not specifically designed to deal with the issues, such as the Information and Communications Authority Law, which contains provisions for use of an ICT network or ICT service to abuse, annoy, threaten or harass another.

“The police have expressed frustration that the absence of laws on our books designed specifically for stalking or sexual harassment have rendered them powerless in certain situations where they wished to be of assistance but did not have the power to lawfully assist,” Small stated.

“An increased awareness of the negative impact of stalking and sexual harassment in the Cayman Islands is the first step towards eradicating these problems in our society. There are more and more reports of victims coming forward to confront the perpetrators and take action against them where possible.”

She noted that legislation was important but it must also be coupled by society’s understanding of the issues and a zero tolerance approach towards stalking and sexual harassment in the wider community as often people did not see that their behaviour amounted to harassment or stalking.

“The creation of the Gender Affairs unit demonstrates government’s willingness to provide the focus and perspective needed to properly review issues such as stalking and sexual harassment. The Ministry of Health and Human Services has expressed its support for our project from the project’s inception and indicated its willingness to collaborate with the Taskforce so far as possible to incorporate our recommendations into the priories government is developing for the subject area of gender affairs,” Small said.

The taskforce was looking forward to assisting the Gender Affairs unit and the Ministry in any way possible that will help victims, she added.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    im being stalked by someone and just last night when i came home he followed me from a friends house. i was not indside for 3 minutes and my door bell would not stop. I called the police who took 30 minutes to come. women are being killed like this. Cayman Wake Up. Protect us, the police could not do anything because he had not done a crime. Well i have a child and we are now afraid for our lives. What do we do now? when he kills us then they will assist

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s about time!!!  i second that, I had to move out of the country because authorities refuse to do anything even with a restraining order.  I hope this is the beggining of new things to come.  Cayman has a long way to go when it comes to protecting people.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Its about time!