Have you ever been sexually harassed? Would you know if you had?
Have you ever sexually harassed anyone? Would you know if you had?
We at the Cayman Compass have started asking some of these questions and the answers are troubling. The more people we speak to, the more we discover that Cayman is far behind most countries in recognising, combatting and protecting its people against sexual harassment. Too many members of our community are facing unacceptable treatment.
Just quantifying the scope of the problem is a challenge, given the wildly contrasting interpretations of what constitutes appropriate conduct. It’s a difficult conversation but one that is overdue in Cayman.
Around the globe, the #metoo and Time’s Up movements have forced open the debate and held many to account for behaviour that has been tolerated by us all for far too long.
Two-thirds of countries around the world have specific laws protecting citizens against sexual harassment. Here in Cayman, the bill, finalised in 2013, has yet to be passed into law. Time is way up.
The McKeeva Bush incident, in which he was convicted of assault against a female bar manager, galvanised the community to campaign for zero tolerance for violence against women. The hashtag #sheissupported took off in a show of solidarity for the plight of women facing all kinds of violence and discrimination in the Cayman Islands. But the turn of events from the early election to Bush returning to the Speaker’s chair has left many disillusioned and questioning the country’s depth of tolerance and true appetite for change.
The truth is that this is not about one man or one incident. It is not something that can be solved with the resignation of one public official (though that would have been a good start as the Compass argued in its 11 Dec. editorial ‘Parliamentarians need to hold Bush accountable’).
Gender-based violence is just one aspect of a multi-faceted problem. What’s really going on is a slew of issues in our society that have been neglected for decades. It’s time to bring them into the light and take a long hard look at what is really happening.
Throughout June, the Compass will be tackling one aspect of this complicated problem: sexual harassment in Cayman. For our purposes we are using a broad definition: unwanted sexual behaviour or conduct.
Supporting women is not something that can be achieved with a hashtag alone – though the energy and anger that the #sheissupported movement generated is a crucial part of the process. The Compass will propose concrete ways to channel that energy towards real solutions, taking #sheissuported from sentiment to substance.
As part of this series, we will tell the stories of the many women and, in some cases, men who have faced sexual harassment, aggression, coercion and abuse at work.
If you have a story and you’d like to share it, get in touch with our Issues Editor James Whittaker on [email protected] or fill out our anonymous survey. Your voices can illuminate the scope of the problem and help bring about meaningful change.