KINGSTON, Jamaica - Co-founder and executive director of the female support group Eve for Life, Joy Crawford says the issue around gender equality is not only a woman’s issue, but “a human issue.”
“It affects us all. Every time you hear about gender-based violence (GBV) or violence against women we have this moral, social battle about men. What role men should play, are we ignoring our men and our boys, and we have the man and woman story. And that is why it’s not so easy to report. So if you have a domestic violence [case] and you reach the police station it is a man and woman story. Or you hear that men are unable to report because you hear that men aren’t supposed to be weak,” Crawford explained.
She was speaking at The Elevate Her Summit held on Wednesday at the Chinese Benevolent Association.
Crawford argued that gender is at the heart of all the violence the country is reporting.
“Whether it’s violence against women, against men, domestic violence, femicide, suicide, name it. If you really unpack it, it is the root of everything. It is the unfortunate socialisation in our country about what a man should be and do, what a woman should be and do, what a girl should be and do, and what a boy should be and do. And we have set up the norms. What I find very interesting is that I hear that black men look nice in pink shirts, but the same black woman who buy her black man a pink shirt, won’t put her son in a pink shirt, ‘cause baby boys don’t wear pink, baby boys wear blue,” Crawford stated.
She explained that gender-based violence is any violence meted out to an individual because of gender norms, gender stereotyping, gender concepts.
“Gender-based violence is simply about power,” she said.
According to Crawford, these abuse can take the form of physical violence, sexual violence, emotional and psychological violence and socioeconomic violence.
“It is important to know what the gender driver is, because your response [will be] different to it. The literature will tell you that they are four main categories of gender-based violence. Physical, we see that one easily. Sexual, we hear about the rapes and the abuse. Mental and emotional, we are hearing more about that now, but you can’t see it readily unless the person come and say ‘mi depress’. And of course financial,” she said, noting that financial abuse involves controlling a victim's ability to acquire, use, and maintain financial resources.
People who are victims of financial abuse may be prevented from working, or even have a restriction on how they spend the money they work. Although it is less commonly understood than other forms of abuse, financial abuse is one of the most powerful methods of keeping a victim trapped, she said.
During the summit, attendees had discussions about the different forms of abuse in areas dubbed as “breakout rooms.” They would discuss and find solutions to the issues of physical violence, sexual abuse of women, sexual abuse of girls, financial abuse and mental and emotional abuse.
The groups came up with solutions such as educating the next generation on the signs of these abuse, as well as making safe spaces for victims readily available.
“Today we are about the solutions. We are about understanding the issues and finding solutions,” said Patricia Duncan Sutherland, President of the PNP Women’s Movement and one of the organisers of the event.