May 14, 2021 Scores of Jamaicans came out in full black on Thursday to protest the alleged actions of Westmoreland Central member of parliament George Wright. The JLP representative is alleged to be the man caught on a viral video physically abusing a woman last month.
Activists, politicians and regular citizens took to the streets with placards calling for an end to gender-based violence and for new laws that protect victims of abuse. The protest was part of a larger campaign called “We Naa Ease Up”, which is a joint action by the Institute of Gender & Development Studies and the Jamaica Council of Churches. Some 80 Jamaican groups and individuals have signed on to the campaign calling for the resignation of Wright and a change in legislation.
One of the campaign’s signatories, former Jamaican Senator Imani Duncan-Price said that as leader of the country, Prime Minister Andrew Holness needs to lead the change in domestic violence laws.
“In countries like England and Wales, they have a much more progressive law that is led by evidence. If you have video footage or eyewitness statements, that is sufficient for the police to move on the action and go for justice. So we’re demanding that Prime Minister Holness change the laws, lead the effort legislatively, and have all parliamentarians vote on that,” she said in an interview with Caribbean National Weekly.
She is also demanding the resignation of George Wright. She said that Wright being on a paid leave of absence is a slap in the face.
“It cannot be that this man is on leave and being paid by taxpayers for “unforeseen circumstances”. It’s almost like a slap in the face. So the first demand is that he resign,” she added.
Another one of the campaign’s supporters, Carla Gullotta, the executive director, Stand up for Jamaica said the George Wright scandal was embarrassing and disgraceful not only because of the abuse but also due to the overwhelming silence of parliamentarians, particularly, the women.
“The George Wright scandal has been more than embarrassing because this has been done by somebody sitting in parliament, which is in the process of making legislative changes regarding gender-based violence. He should represent the right side of this country and he didn’t. And the second embarrassment has been the astonishing silence of the female parliaments when all of us were expecting a firm stance from all the female representatives,” Gullotta told Caribbean National Weekly.
Since the allegations, members of the diaspora in South Florida and scores of businesses and social justice organizations in Jamaica have condemned the alleged actions of the MP and called for his resignation. To date, George Wright has not commented on the allegations.