Columns

Female 'body bars' more a priority than a murdered woman

Mark Wignall

Sunday, September 09, 2012    

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IN a Thursday release from the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM), the following was stated, 'The Bureau of Women's Affairs is expressing outrage at the growing practice of using women's bodies as "body bars" as reported in the Gleaner on Tuesday, September 4, 2012.'

Before I read the rest of the release I was forced to clear my eyes to ensure that I was not hallucinating. The second paragraph confirmed my sanity, but in that same moment I was drawn to a consideration that maybe the Bureau of Women's Affairs was more than just a little bit light in the head.

'The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), of which Jamaica is a signatory, calls on governments to address sex roles and stereotyping as well as prostitution/exploitation. The practice of using women's bodies as "body bars" as outlined in the article in the Gleaner on Tuesday, September 4th, is a form of discrimination to the extent that it constitutes the sexual exploitation, objectification, and commodification of the bodies of women and girls involved.'

Five days before, a tragedy of unspeakable proportion had occurred in Yallahs, St Thomas where a woman eight months pregnant was shot dead by a cop while he was trying to accost her (arrest her?) for a most trivial matter of her using a few choice Jamaican 'badwords'.

Two shots in the head killed Kayann Lamont. One more for a sister. She was lucky and lived. From reports, it is alleged that he aimed the gun at another sister.

And in the face of the deafening silence from the prime minister, who just happens to be a woman who claims to dote on the poor and powerless, the OPM issues, via the Bureau of Women's Affairs, a trite release on female 'body bars?'

Maybe I am hallucinating.

I have been to some risqué North Coast hotels and have seen male body bars alongside female body bars. Any guesses as to which was my favourite?

The female tourists lap up the fruit and the liquor on the well proportioned males while the male tourists indulge in similar fashion with the females. While these people were employees, I didn't get the sense that they were being forced to 'perform' against their will. Entertainment co-ordinators are a special breed of people who are employed for their ability to go off the rails at a moment's notice.

While I am aware of the so-called sexist tones in female body bars, was this the overriding issue of the moment for the OPM? Seems to me that the OPM only commented on it out of public frustration that the prime minister was in hibernation. The issue of an attractive female lying on her back and bedecked with fruit and liquor presented the OPM with the opening to wade into a female matter.

Only, not the female matter that was on everyone's mind while they seethed with anger. Certainly this is a striking example of misplaced priority. We know that should the OPM or the prime minister herself stumble out of her state of silence and inaction, the life of our sister cannot be brought back. It would, however, signal that although there is no light on in the captain's cabin, someone still occupies the space which the nation mandated to her last December.

At the risk of being accused of being sexist I have found that too many women's movements tend to respond to matters where the 'ugly' word 'sex' has some bearing. It is almost as if these entities are bereft of females of child-bearing age.

It seems to me that a higher proportion of younger women need to be represented on these bodies so that the general sensibilities in relation to female matters can be accurately represented in the age cohorts.

Raid on Scotchies -- Is this the new tactic?

I have been to Scotchies, a McConnell-run outfit, on about three occasions and its style of jerked pork and chicken is excellent to the eyes and the taste. Plus, it has a rather attractive bar which makes for ease of relaxation.

But there seems to have been trouble in paradise. Last Thursday the following arrived in my e-mail inbox.

'Dear Hon Minister Clarke,

'Yesterday my office was literally raided by six (6) officers headed by Asst. Comm. Reginald Grant who arrived just as I was driving out to a meeting. When I asked them what I could do for them one of the young officers - 4 armed with machine guns - requested that he needed to speak to me. I reversed and parked and they all followed me into the purchasing office where my purchasing manager was seated. The same young officer with his machine gun then demanded to see our receipts for purchases.

'I said that they were numerous and could he define what area or to what item. He then narrowed it down to "PORK" which I went and got.

'Mr Grant then intervened as he saw that I was getting angry over the officer's approach and explained that I would have to have all my suppliers present us with JAS receipts or I was to refuse to purchase from them. The story is much too long so this is just a brief - it's all on my security cameras for viewing if required.

'My problem with the whole approach is as follows:

'1. Does it take 6 machined gun police to visit a small operation such as Scotchies to look at a few receipts?

'Please be aware that three highly respectable doctors have been murdered in the last week alone and not one arrest has been made. In my opinion, four of these policemen could be out there trying to solve these ghastly murders. Remember it can be you or I one day.

'2. Are any of these officers trained forensic auditors?

'3. As they are venturing into a restaurant and going into food areas such as my cold room - do they have food handler's permits? - This is the law.

'4. What about Coronation Market? I purchase from them, from time to time and I have never received a JAS receipt. So am I going to be arrested for purchasing from them?

'5. If there has been a theft in the agricultural sector concerning pigs, why am I the one being treated like the criminal?

'Mr Minister, I thought we had moved away from this aggressive and backward approach to business which was how government operated in the 70s. I employ 52 persons, but rest assured that as I have nothing to do with the rest of the family business, I will be only too happy to shut down and relax once more in Miami if this how it's going to be.

'If you feel the necessity to discuss the matter further, I am always at your service.'

I sympathise with Agriculture Minister Roger Clarke on the matter of praedial larceny and I endorse the idea that in chasing down or detecting criminals who steal livestock, no one ought to be above the law.

Something tells me, though, that our policemen need to move away from these 'slash and burn' tactics and revert to an intelligence-driven process. Certainly if there was suspicion that Scotchies had received stolen or contraband pork, two police officers including a specialist in these matters could have sufficed.

Is the show of force, long an old, failed tactic, still being reprised in 2012?

Threat on life of OCG staff member not to be taken lightly

The interconnectedness of criminal enterprises is just a fact that we dismiss at our own peril.

As the police crack down on the Lotto scammers, many young men with guns will want to find other destructive outlets for their 'trade'.

In 2010, the police incursion on Tivoli Gardens resulted in the huge death toll of 73. We all know what the makeup of Tivoli was like. What we also know is that the vast majority of guns were not recovered. As one man who was down there firing from the Denham Town end told me, 'Di police will never find di gun dem. Dem coulda search until God come.'

With Dudus out of the way, the power vacuum has begun to take its toll and recently 'war' broke out in Denham Town. Plus, some of the lieutenants have emigrated to areas uptown that had enjoyed alliance with Tivoli. Any calm that exists now is that which occurs before the big storm.

As the economy continues to contract under a leaderless PNP administration, the sub-cultural elements will not be satisfied to simply sit aside and admit defeat. They have families to feed and they have hundreds of guns.

The attempt to kill a member of the OCG's staff, allegedly by a disgruntled contractor, must be more than cause for concern. Say what you will of the OCG, call out the contractor general for his over-the-top zeal, the fact is the OCG is still that one shining light on the hill as an institution that is telling us that we can be better than we are.

I expect the police to utilise less of the slash-and-burn policing and place two good detectives on this serious matter.

One even hopes that with the prime minister's promise to strengthen the OCG (when she was in opposition), she will soon issue a statement roundly condemning this threat. She will be surprised at how effective her voice can be with those who would dare want to perpetrate such madness.

Any bets on her saying anything?

observemark@gmail.com

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