Hear us Jamaica, hear us!Thursday, September 09, 2021
Jamaica has seemingly silenced our grown women, so will you listen to the youth?
It saddens me that, as a 13-year-old girl living in Jamaica, writing this letter even crosses my mind. I have been living in Jamaica my entire life, and observing many things, and I feel it is my time to take a stand on the topic of women's rights, or the lack thereof, in Jamaica.
It is hard to know where to begin, as I am both saddened and filled with rage — and even a bit light-headed — knowing that all of my sisters will one day realise that we appear to be living on a misogynistic island, where most people (our Government included) seem to be largely unconcerned when women are raped, harassed, or killed. We seem to live on an island where women are constantly being sexualised, made to feel less than they are worth, and generally diminished on an all-too-regular basis.
It seems as if our entire culture has been brought up to embarrass women, maybe without even realising it, starting with some of the curse words regularly used in Jamaica. People seem to not even realise what these demeaning terms mean.
Derogatory 'anti-female' curse words aside, Jamaica has reached a record number of sexual assault cases against women. I am close to tears not only because of this fact, but also because it has become so incredibly normalised within our communities, especially inner-city communities affected by poverty, in which the number of cases of rape have increased tremendously throughout the years, not to mention the countless cases that are never reported. It is almost as though men think they can assault a girl with little or no consequences, and successive governments are, in my opinion, to blame. It is almost like a “rape and go” culture has been created in Jamaica, as no one seems to care about these survivors.
Cases of violation are far too common, and I hope our Government will one day appreciate the pain and suffering of all of our strong Jamaican young and old survivors of brutal assaults.
It also saddens me to know that a female tourist can come to Jamaica expecting a lovely island getaway and they leave with grief, pain, and complete violation as tourists, too, have been harassed and assaulted.
Are we really proud that in many parts of Jamaica women cannot walk on our streets without being harassed or, in some cases, verbally or sexually assaulted? Are we proud that young girls are oftentimes sexualised and a simple act such as walking home subjects them to various forms of abuse that have been accepted across our society as being “normal”?
Where is the outrage when we hear stories of a parent coming home to find out that a group of men forced their teenage daughter into a vehicle and raped her? Why have we, as a nation, seemingly become so immune and uncaring when we hear about such heinous crimes committed against our women?
With the culture that we have either created or accepted, how do we expect women who do not have access to their own private vehicles to get to work, school, and back to their homes without being bothered? As it stands, it is quite likely that every woman in Jamaica has or will experience harassment of some sort, whether it be nasty comments, non-consensual physical interaction or unwanted and violating stares.
Khanice Jackson deserves justice after being brutally murdered and raped. Her case is just one of many examples of violence against women in Jamaica. Khanice and so many others deserve so much more to be done in their memory.
To Prime Minister Andrew Holness I say, let us not wait until walking on the streets equates even more to a death sentence to take the necessary legislative action. Much of the music that we so dearly love also contributes to the violence in our society, including violence against women. Our youth look up to these so-called artistes and memorise their violent and reprehensible lyrics, which become part of their psyche.
“Police come find dem dead pon the street like a dog; Bus out dem head when mi rifle a spray like Baygon, dawg.” The above is just an example of Jamaican artistes promoting violence in general. It is important that our children are educated on right and wrong, instead of allowing these artistes to brainwash them, as much of what our music promotes will result in declining moral standards. If the powers that be are serious, they must ban songs which promote violence and harm to others. We enjoy the beat and rhythm but completely mask the misogynistic and violent lyrics which become embedded in our subconscious. Such lyrics have become a very toxic part of our culture and the artistes, and those who permit them to flood the airwaves with these violent songs, should be ashamed.
I have no doubt that the vast majority of women in Jamaica are tired of the constant abuse and harassment. To all the women of Jamaica, while it may seem hard for one person to speak up, collectively we have a very, very loud voice. Isn't it time for us to finally take a stand and force our Government to listen to our desperate calls?
This will get even worse if we don't get this problem fixed, and I feel that the Government could do much more. If the Government of Jamaica wants this to end it must begin to shine a light on this major issue immediately, as against accepting what takes place as part of our culture. The present Government must create a safe environment in Jamaica for women from any background, allowing us all to feel safe and protected.
Every woman has a voice and it is about time that we start using it. Hear us Jamaica, hear us!
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