We cannot move ahead if we see each other as enemy or we believe that we are in competition and fighting for limited resource for women and not for men. Often when I speak on gender-based violence immediately, many men stop me or counter that men are being killed too, of which I am acutely aware. However, men interjecting in this way says to me I am not interested in hearing about women being killed because men being killed is more important. Turning a deaf-ear to the plight of women, and not being open to engage this issue is to be complicit will not
As a feminist and gender advocate, I promote equality, equality for women and equality for men, equality for girls and equality for boys. I believe in the same way that women who are victims of gender-based violence should be offered protection so too should those men who are victims. Gender-based violence, regardless of the, sex, should receive compassion, support and guidance. This is not about competition or taking one side and ignoring the other. We have done that too much in the past and as we move forward we have to look at balancing the equation, but we also must be respectful and be willing to hear and attend to the pain and abuse of women.
Looking at gender based-violence, where 90% of the perpetrators are men killing women and men raping girls, does not mean that we are overlooking or ignoring the the alarming statistic of men killing each other. But GBV, and especially during IDEVA and the 16 days of activism which begins Nov 25 and which concludes on Dec 10, the International Human Rights Day, I am inviting my brothers and all Jamaicans to focus some attention to this very grave matter that not only impacts women and their ultimate emotional and physical welfare, but which has far-reaching impact on the entire family unit and wide-spread financial and social outlook of the entire society. The 16 days of activism is asking that we pay close attention to the victimization of women who ought to be allowed a safe space to be heard without the spotlight be turned on men.
“The direct costs of rape and domestic violence to the health system run in the millions of dollars, but the indirect costs in lost productivity, in the aftermath of a physical or sexual assault, are likely costing Jamaica billions” Moreno, L.G.(2015) Let us pause here and reflect on the financial impact on an already limited budget
- Sexual violence against Jamaican girls is more than three times the global average (Al Jazeera, 2015; Lumsden, 2017).
- In Jamaica, 40% of adolescent girls’ sexual initiation is forced and occurring while they were under the age of consent1 (Al Jezeera, 2015; Lumsden, 2017).
- Over an eight-year period (2007–2014), 16,790 cases of child sexual abuse were reported, with two-thirds of victims between 13 and 17 years old; 21.1% between seven and 12 years old; and eight percent under seven years; 93% of all cases were girls (Jones, 2016).
COST OF RAPE/SV TO SOCIETY
- Globally, sexual violence accounts for an estimated four percent of gross domestic product (GDP) due to lost productivity (World Bank, 2017).
– About half of teenage girls aged 15-17 in Jamaica experience sexual violence, Baumgartner et al,
the WHO (2014), noted that if Jamaica reduced its violence rate by eight percent per 100,000 people, the country could increase its annual economic growth per capita by at least 5.4%.
Despite the postions that women hold in Jamaica, and how they are ranked world wide in terms of middle income jobs, we have to look at what consistently happens to women in our society because of our cultural norm and what both women and men have accepted as the way it is. a number of women who have said to me, yes and he beats because he loves me because they have accepted that distorted in the same way that I beat her because I love her but love is not love. I would like us to honor these 16 days active is am against violence against women because if we stopped and lessen the violence against women I am off to belief we will also lessen the violence against men because when men hurt women and children they are in fact acting out for place of her anger and fear and a feeling of disempowerment. We want to correct that we want to create a society where all people are safe, both women as well as men and children and boys; we want to change that aspect of our culture that has said because of survival because of enslavement that we’ve had to strike out. We have to move away from that and to now respond to what each other as brother or sister. I am not discounting your pain and your suffering but I need you to hear me and I need you to honor this. The 16 days off to end violence against women to speak to each other to speak to your brother’s to speak to your fathers and grandfathers to speak to those musicians who continue to glorify violence and homophobia in their songs how to say this is about all of us this is about our Salvation this is about our Coming to Terms this is about us send each other in a different way let us and these two statistics statistics let us end sphere that many people outside of Jamaica have that is impacting us we can make the 16 days to end violence against women an important turning point in Jamaica for all Jamaicans violence in the home impact not just the man and child with if their children it impacts them if there are other I don’t remember sitting tax them if their pets it impacts them not to mention the impact it has on the economy because when someone is hurt from gender-based violence it has tremendous domino effect throughout the entire Jamaican economy this is why we need to understand this is a serious matter that requires all of our support and help in it and in it the data gives us the base to let us know this volume of work that we need to do to be in alignment violence in the society is a clear indication that we are out of alignment with each other out of alignment with nature out of alignment with what it requires to build a society my fellow Jamaicans I appeal to you from a place of love and respect for every man woman girl and boy and I invite all of you to use the 16 days to heal to seek out counseling from a member of your church or the medical community someone who can help you to take that steps towards healing love is never ever about violence control and pain so let us move together as one people Anna these days and look at what is wrong and I was Society what is wrong in our culture that needs to be changed or eradicate the we can move forward that’s my invitation to all of us as Jamaicans.
Institute Conflict resolution skills training in all schools throughout Jamaica from grade 1 to form 6 to teach our children to learn to communicate in a calm reflective manner as many experience conflict daily in the home.
Establish and offer conflict resolution and effective communication skills throughout all parishes at community centers, and hold monthly town hall meetings on the impact of GBV and where to seek help before resorting to violence.
Jamaica currently spends four % of its GDP on violence overall (WHO, 2014). While that might not appear to be a lot, just image the fundamental and positive changes that would occur if even 3% were put into providing training skills and sustainable life-long good paying jobs for young women and men.
Engage and even commission our singers to write songs that reinforce effective communication and loving relationships.
We are an oral, storytelling people employ storytellers to share positive stories of cohesive family unit, intimate as well as platonic relationships
Erect billboards that show women and men arriving at non-violent resolution.
Create radio Ads and TV programmes that address the issue of violence and promote viable alternatives.
In order to correct this behaviour and damage to our society we have to tackle this from multi-pronged approaches and it has to be 24/7/365 days until we have transformed our ways to interacting with one another.
Give the grave and critical situation here in Jamaica we need more than 16 days, we need to attend to this issue year-round. Do join me in helping to restore peace and justice in Jamaica and make the home safe for women, girls, boys and men.
An abbreviated version of this article was published in The Observer, on December 19, 2022