The Young Business and Professional Women’s Club Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Stalking is asking Cayman Islands residents to complete a survey being released today to help them tackle the issue in the Cayman context.
Task Force Chair Joannah Bodden said the group’s twofold mandate is to launch a sexual harassment and stalking educational campaign, and to develop ‘Caymanised’ legislative recommendations providing locally relevant protection for men and women.
The Task Force was created in response to a 2003 public discussion held by the Young BPW Club which raised concerns about the inadequacy of local laws with regard to sexual harassment and stalking.
With two main groups and various sub-committees, the non-governmental entity is made up of 40 male and female volunteers from various professional backgrounds.
Ms Bodden said that because there is currently no formal data available on sexual harassment and stalking in the Cayman Islands, the public opinion survey will play an important role.
The Task Force’s recommendations, which will be presented to Government in a report, will be based on its research.
‘As a Caribbean country with many different nationalities living and working here, we don’t want to make assumptions on people’s views – we want to get them firsthand, in an anonymous and confidential setting,’ she said.
The eight-member Survey Subcommittee, whose members have backgrounds in sociology, psychology, education, law and human resources, produced its first draft in 2005.
It was reviewed by the Task Force as well as by the SSC members’ university professors and colleagues. The final version has been developed with assistance from a local professional with statistics experience on the content of the survey and distribution methods.
The Task Force is asking residents on all three islands to complete the confidential survey by 25 September. It is being distributed in today’s Caymanian Compass, and is also available online at www.protectcayman.com/survey.
The survey will also be available at the Women’s Resource Centre, the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, the RCIPS Family Support Unit and the Department of Counseling Services.
Return envelopes are provided with printed surveys and no postage is required to return the completed surveys to the Task Force.
‘We want to emphasise that the survey is completely confidential and all responses will remain completely anonymous as no identifying information is requested,’ said Ms Bodden.
The Task Force is requesting that for cost considerations, recipients not throw away the printed surveys but pass them on to someone who will fill it out.
Ms Bodden was hopeful that the intention of the survey is well understood by the public.
‘The Task Force has no hidden agenda and there is no financial gain for the members. What we are doing is in recognition that the current protections afforded by law are not adequate and our members are committed to trying to do something about it,’ said Ms Bodden.
Ms Bodden said that the Task Force is taking a cue from other lobby groups. In the private sector, she said, focus groups are regularly created to discuss ways of improving local legislation and to provide suggestions to Government to implement new legislation in order to keep Cayman at pace with other leading jurisdictions.
‘We are well behind some of our Caribbean counterparts with respect to stalking and sexual harassment,’ said Ms Bodden.
‘Government has limited resources and if a private group can do some of the groundwork and provide suggestions to Government on ways to help, why not do so?’