A men and boys’ forum to spotlight the role of males in eliminating violence against women and girls saw several appeals for outlets for men to release seething anger, birthed by harsh encounters with significant females in their lives, which has pushed some to even murder.
“Mi really appreciate a forum like this because a person like me, as wi jus’ discuss, yuh see how easily my anger wake up because mi have a whole heap a anger inside a mi. Mi a somebody weh kill woman already and go prison and mi innna mindset right now weh mi deh pon di verge fi kill somebody else again, that’s why mi appreciate a setting like this,” a self-confessed former convict told the forum staged by the United Nations (UN) Women Multi-Country Office Caribbean on Thursday.
The event was supported by the Men’s Unit in the Bureau of Gender Affairs in the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, under the European Union-UN Spotlight Initiative at ROK Hotel in downtown Kingston.
“Mi nah pretty up nor sugar-coat nutten, mi a talk because mi need help, mi need help. Based on my assessment, I think God make us to flow in a specific order and once we go against that and start to attack the core of manhood, this a some a the result weh yuh get, because is like you a go against the flow of nature,” he said harshly.
A second male, in expressing appreciation for the forum which, he said, would be useful in managing his anger, revealed that his inner hurt stemmed from a childhood encounter in which his mother greeted him with a cup of hot water to the face on his returning home from a neighbourhood party which he had attended without her consent.
“Jah know, star, from dat day mi a tell yuh seh mi get evil, from dat day mi nuh laugh wid people, mi quick fi kill yuh, quick fi do yuh anything. Mi dark; when mi seh dark, mi dark, mi dark like midnight,” he told the transfixed gathering.
“Yuh si woman, woman fi always understand demself and know seh a man wear di pants. Mi nuh deal wid woman who talk to mi any and any way. A mi do all talking, yuh si mi,” he said.
He, however, detailed his struggle to correct his behaviour as he claimed his “evil” ways brought him respect.
“Mi still know good and bad, but mi nah tell nuh lie. Mi evil, but mi rather be evil still, ennuh, because mi get more respect, mi get more honour. Yeh, mi nah go tell nuh lie, mi rather be evil… it gimme da buzz deh, an mi get girls because she love mi likkle evil ways how mi gwaan. A real thing mi a tell yuh, it draw woman how mi flex because she say it make me more hardcore,” he told the shocked audience.
That childhood experience, he said, has powered him to the present day.
“Di bad energy and dem things deh, it really start from the parents; how dem deal with the yute dem. In my term mi never deserve that, hot water mi mother throw inna mi face and mi never forget dat day and mi still love mi mother. If anybody ramp with my mother you know how dat go, but mi never deserve that,” he ended.
Motivational speaker, fitness lifestyle and transformational coach Kevin Wallen, in appealing for “understanding” for such men during the forum, said there is a need for an outlet for males to express themselves.
“I have worked in the prisons for many years and I worked with mostly men and what we found is that a lot of them have a level of anger inside them and there is no place to put it. There is nowhere to express it. At least when you hear the story out full, then we can have a decent conversation, but most a the things dem is like the thing just bottle up inside and wi angry, so to create a space where men want to speak and as soon as wi voice get a little passionate and one or two badword cuss, everybody start get ‘fraid. But we need those moments because we are bottled up right now,” he stated.
Detailing a story of a wife beater whose behaviour was traced back to a public beating and embarrassment by his mother when he was a child, Wallen pointed out that through analysis it was realised that anger, which was never expressed, had found its way into the man’s marital relationship.
“A whole heap a wi a struggle with that. I don’t know that a lot of men that I speak to in the prisons that is wicked them wicked why them and the woman get into whatever. It’s something that’s in them head and they feel like there is no other way to deal wid it, and him can’t talk about it because it wrong pon so many levels, so nobody don’t want to give them a listening ear, and I am saying we need to be careful because we have been doing the same thing for years,” he stated to applause and murmurs of ‘Yes’.
UN Women Multi-Country Office Caribbean Representative Tonni Brodber, speaking at the start of the meeting, said solving family violence will go a long way in cauterising violence overall.
“A lot of times we talk about we have to end crime but we don’t recognise that the investment to end crime does not happen in the prisons only. It happens in the homes first, and if you aren’t addressing family violence, if you aren’t addressing the normalisation of violence for children, you are not going to have a situation where crime is not a reality,” she said.
“Men more likely to get engaged in violence with other men are more likely to have witnessed violence in their homes are more likely to have been shamed as children. We often speak about corporal punishment …but words absolutely harm you. Shame is one of the key indicators of children growing up to use violence, or girls growing up to be women who are more accustomed to receiving violence in relationships,” she noted.
According to UN Women, 28 per cent of women in Jamaica have suffered intimate partner violence during their lifetime, and 23 per cent have suffered sexual violence from a non-partner. This is largely perpetuated by men and boys.