The Jamaica Defence Force takes a very uncompromising position on Sexual Harassment. As such, we have drafted policies that speak directly to our soldiers and officers about what is considered appropriate or inappropriate behavior, and outline the procedures for dealing with suspected breaches.
The vision of the Jamaica Defence Force is to maintain a high quality professional Force that is well trained and committed to its mission. This demands reaffirmation of a commitment to a work and duty environment free of sexual harassment for all personnel, whether military or civilian. The JDF Policy position on Sexual Harassment is that any form of sexual harassment, be it verbal or non-verbal, physical, written, visual or graphic, is unacceptable conduct, will not be tolerated, and will be punished severely. While physical harassment such as unwanted or unsolicited touching, patting, pinching, bumping, grabbing, cornering, kissing etc is often the most obvious form of sexual offence against a person, the sexual harassment policy also recognizes the danger of other less obvious forms of sexual aggravation such as offensive and sexually suggestive comments, looks, come-ons, messages etc.
In suspected cases of sexual harassment, an investigation is immediately launched. Depending on the magnitude of the case, the commander may deem it necessary to ask the Appropriate Superior Authority to appoint an investigating Officer to carry out the inquiry. The purpose of the investigation is to determine the facts in the case and to assess the validity of allegations made by the complainant and recommend appropriate corrective actions. Offenders will, as a minimum, undergo counseling but commanders have the full range of administrative actions available to them to deal with offenders, including adverse performance evaluations, administrative withholding of privileges, rehabilitative transfer to another Unit, or summary trial by Ordinary Court Martial.
At all times, steps are taken to protect the complainant, any named witnesses, and the subject from acts of reprisal.
The JDF does recognize that although having a consensual romantic relationship with another member of the Force is not harassment, harassment may occur as a result of the relationship if either person in the relationship engages in conduct in the workplace that is inappropriate or unwelcome. It also acknowledges that based on the hierarchical structure of the organization there are certain groups of personnel who may be considered extremely vulnerable and lacking in “military maturity”. In order to ensure that these personnel are given the requisite protection, steps are taken to prevent any actual or perceived quid pro quo opportunities being offered to them whilst ensuring that a hostile-free working environment is created for their military training, development and/or internship. Members of the Force are therefore expressly prohibited from attempting to or entering into intimate and/or sexual relationships with these groups of personnel, which includes officer cadets, potential officers, recruits (JNSC, JNR etc.), JNSC soldiers, civilians participating in on the job training and persons seeking employment with the JDF.
The JDF insists that leaders and managers at all levels have a duty to take immediate steps to stop any form of sexual harassment that they witness or that is brought to their attention. The Force also actively engages its members in sexual harrassment and familiarizaton training seminars aimed at reducing the likelihood of these incidents in the first place. With these measures in place, we intend to ensure that operational effectiveness, productivity, team cohesion and morale remain at their highest.