Jamaica needs a robust conversation about sexual relationships
The brutal rape of five females in Irwin, St James, has brought into sharp relief the intractable social problems that confront the society. The savage indifference with which the crime was committed has shocked the nation, especially as one of the victims was only eight years old. We now know that two young men have been identified in a parade as the ones who committed this crime. They must be given a fair trial in keeping with our jurisprudential practice of a person being innocent until proved guilty. This is important, given the recourse to vigilantism that is being resorted to by Jamaicans who have become impatient with the slow pace of the justice system in bringing redress to horrendous acts of criminality in our midst.
The problems of rape, incest, carnal abuse and other deviant sexual behaviour in Jamaica are appalling, especially since they seem to have become normative for an increasing number of people who commit them. Some men do not think twice about having sex with their own daughters even to the point of impregnating them more than once. It means nothing to two young men to rape five females, one of them an eight-year-old, if it provides them with a moment of pleasure derived not so much from the act itself, but because they have been able to exercise some dominance over the women. It is the satisfaction of primal, animal lust not just for animalistic pleasure, but the pleasure that power brings. Part of the problem is that Jamaica has become a highly sexualised society and this in a country where many of its citizens have been poorly socialised about human sexuality.
This horrid situation has been exacerbated by the easy availability of pornographic images through cable television, mobile platforms and on the internet. At any time and place, one can log on to one of the many sex sites on the internet and feed one's appetite for sex with explicit, crude sexual activity. When this happens, passions are inflamed and a person who has been poorly socialised about appropriate sexual behaviour will give way to such passions and commit horrific acts, the likes of which we are now witnessing. Most of these horrific acts are done by males against females. There are limited reports of boys being raped, but it is no secret that grown men indulge in carnal abuse with young boys.
This sexual indulgence goes to the heart of the integrity of relationships and the value we place on each person's life. It would seem that the respect for Jamaican womanhood does not come easily to some men. As a man I am not afraid to admit that there are far too many men who see women as a means for their own sexual gratification. They value them only to the extent that they can have sex with them. The moment the sexual infatuation with the woman fades is the moment the relationship ends. And this is true whether in marriage or outside of it. In this sad scenario, women are likely to be seen as tools to be used and then discarded. The vitality of a relationship is not predicated on a nourishing and cherishing environment in which the relationship can thrive, but on one in which the sexual utility of the woman becomes paramount. In the full thrust of their virility, men rarely contemplate that the passage of time will take toll on their virility. They do not detain themselves with questions as to whether they will ever fail to perform sexually. Yet these are real concerns, as men have been known to crumble in fear and depression whenever issues of erectile dysfunction arise. There is perhaps no greater fear a man has than to know that he cannot perform his sexual functions. For one, he cannot talk about it for fear of being ridiculed. Unless he has a faithful partner who has grown to understand, respect and love him, his goose is cooked. He dare not go to a younger woman for fear of being laughed at. Regular regimen of Cialis and Viagra may provide a respite, but cannot bring back the good old days.
When issues of sexual dysfunction arise in a relationship, what then? Outside of sex, what is there to sustain the relationship? What is there to sustain the relationship if one did not develop a basic respect for the person that one has been having sexual relations with over the past years? Will one just walk away because sex is "dead"? We must begin a serious conversation with ourselves about human sexuality. Essential to that conversation must be insistence on what creates viable and lasting relationships, and of the need to respect the dignity of people that we wish to engage in these relationships. I know that we are hard-pressed with the economic problems at this time, but viable and holistic social relationships are the glue which holds society together. Perhaps the church may want to start this conversation in a robust way.