DR Leith Dunne, Head of the Mona Institute for Gender and Development Studies at University of the West Indies, Mona says rapists and other sex predators emerge out of the unequal power that is accorded men versus women in Jamaica.
"Who is this rapist? Someone who has been socialised to expect to get what he wants, when he wants, and feels entitled and feels empowered. It is in how we are socialised; that if I, as male, wants something, I am entitled to take it," she explained in a recent interview with the Jamaica Observer.
Dr Dunne and colleague Violet Sutherland are responsible for the 2009 report profiling victims and perpetrators of rape in Jamaica which was done by the Institute with the financial support of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES) Jamaica and the Eastern Caribbean programme.
This small non-random study analysed data collected from the Constant Spring Police Station. The size of the study and the use of a non-random sample means that the findings cannot be generalised across Jamaica but it provides valuable data to guide future research.
The study mainly involved the collection and analysis of primary as well as secondary data. This included sex aggregated data on GBV as well as interviews with a number of police officers. The scope was confined to official police records in one Police Division (Area 5 ) located at the Constant Spring Police Station, as well as relevant statistics from two other police sources which collect national data on GBV.
Data were collected from the JCF Station Diaries, Crime Log books and from the JCF Statistics Department which includes data from all police divisions. This data on victims and perpetrators from crime log books and police diaries was used to complete an instrument which was developed for that purpose.
Accroding to the report, as it is in other parts of the world, the problem of GBV in Jamaica, is not isolated from the rest of society, but "reflects a complex social matrix, which reflects centuries of a gender division of labour, social stratification, and gender stereotyping. These are part of a larger overarching system of hegemonic patriarchal control that exposes and makes 'common sense' of interlocking systems of power and control. The mass media projects images and sound that often reinforce negative images of females and aggressive behaviour of males which have been internalised and have become accepted as the norm".
Dr Dunne also pointed to a June 2006 Amnesty International report: Sexual violence against women and girls in Jamaica: Just a little sex, which pointed to sexual violence and discrimination against women and girls still being unacceptably high in Jamaica. Dr Dunne said that this also speaks to the Jamaican male dominating and exploiting vulnerabilities among women and girls.
"It also notes that the impunity associated with these crimes suggests that sexual assault is often not treated as a serious matter by society. It further indicated that political will to address gender-based discrimination has been insufficient," she said.
It was hoped that the information in the study would have been useful in "empowering the JCF to enhance data collection on gender based violence, improve detection and prosecution and, in so doing, help to eliminate this epidemic"," explained Dr Dunne in the study's summary.
"The expectation is that a profile of victims and perpetrators and the circumstances related to incidents of GBV (Gender-based violence), could help to identify patterns that can serve as early warning signals and can avert murder related to gender-based violence," the report also posited.
In the meantime, an extract from a wider Jamaica Constabulary Force 2012 Victimology study has set out common facts surrounding the incidence of rape in Jamaica including that rapists usually know and are known to their victims.
The recent research also shows:
47 per cent of all victims can identitify their attacker/s
Almost 59 per cent of all victims are attacked at home.
16 per cent are raped during home invasions.
13 per cent are attacked by friends
61 per cent are students.
13 per cent are abducted. Victims are usually taken to inconspicuous locations along routes to include bushes, in cases where victims are travelling in motor vehicles these vehicles usually divert from the main thoroughfare to secluded locations.
20 per cent are raped through deception, with victims being lulled or coerced into a vulnerable position.
Rapists generally enjoy preying on and exerting power over victims who are younger and less powerful.
The police figures show that the most vulnerable fall between 12-17 years old, accounting for 50 per cent of all victims.
31 per cent of victims were raped while travelling home.
Most rapes — 78 per cent — occur between the hours of 12:00 midnight and 2:00 am.
Jungle Justice — rape as a function of control over turf with a number of economically depressed areas being controlled by 'dons' who demand sex as payment for his 'protection' — is also common in Jamaica, Dr Dunne adds.
"Rape as a weapon of war is not unheard of in Jamaica, although technically there is no civil or tribal war. In the numerous cases where dons have ordered parents to hand over their virginal daughters when they come of age, it is the leveraging of power over women and girls for exploitation and control," she noted.
The Freiderich, Ebert, Stiftung report of 2009 also concluded that if Jamaica had better reporting systems, more of these sexual crimes could be prevented.
"If we had stronger reporting mechanisms, the police would be able to intervene and prevent more instances of gender-based violence. This calls for a whole re-socialisation of Jamaicans," Dr Dunne added.