Friday,September 27, 2012, many Jamaicans (mainly women) took to the streets in protest of the gruesome rape of FIVE female bodies; one of which was an eight(8) year old child. The nation was left in utter shock in the wake of such grotesque news. That shock quickly morphed into outrage. Politicians scurried. A joint meeting of both opposition and government senators and members of parliament convened to address this obscene assault on our women. And at long last, coming out of that meeting was the awesome idea of a march/stand in protest. WOW! A protest march! How else will our policy makers be able to send a clear message to the citizenry that violence against women; disrespect of women; suppression of the agency of women will not be tolerated or supported by the state but to organise a protest march!?
NO BLACKIt is all well and good to wear black and protest and create a public spectacle in the name of justice for our women. But do we really support such? How long will the charade and lip service be paid to fully recognising the worth of our women/girls? Look how long big man sexing "likkle" girl and raping women. We have become a society that has long turned a blind eye to that kind of violence against our girls who are above eight years old; yet under the age of consent. "Is just a likkle sex"; "After (she pass) 12, is lunch (she good fi nyam/she fit).We have so normalised violence against women & children that we can only observe it in its most gruesome forms... In Jamaica, the notion of statutory rape escapes us... It is not rape... "Di likkle gyal jus love tek big man... She too loose!" And then we protest?? Ok then!
We've ignored violence against women & children that it's become putrid & now we're running like chickens without heads seeking solutions. Even our justice system has supported the onslaught against women. For so long rape survivors have had to defend their character and choice of dress, rather than defense lawyers proving clients' innocence. They were the ones put on trial to prove the legitimacy of the crime committed against their bodies. The woman is invaded and probed twice: once by an uninvited penis & then by the accusatory questions that hold her responsible for the rape somebody else perpetrated. So we ask her what were you wearing? Were you flirting? How many sexual partners have you had(since only virgins can be legitimately raped)? Moreover, I suspect that we would not have been as outraged if the 8yr old wasn't among the mix! After all is just a likkle sex! So after we have worn black and stand up "inna sun hot", WHAT!!?? Do we do educational drives to deal with how the disregard of women has been institutionalised? Do we find the baby fathers of these pre-teens and under-aged girls and bring the weight of the law against them or do they go unchecked as usual? Do we put sanctions against lawyers who attempt to smear the reputation of a woman who was raped to protect his client and legitimise the rape? Wearing colours don't protect them; policies & policing do!
CULTURE AND IDENTITYI love women & it has nothing to do with sex or controlling them. In fact, I am a feminist and I have observed how in our religion and wider culture we have subjugated and denigrated the female identity. Many men who claim to love women, reduce women to their "pussy". She is the total of her sexual duties for some, while for others she is a little more than a glorified slave; sometimes doubling up as both a field (career/work) and house slave. Strangely, we don't see how misogynistic we are when we diminish a woman's identity to being mother or wife. Those are not identities; they're roles that the woman MAY CHOOSE to perform. So let us march against rape today and wear black, while collectively we continue to support & entrench the diminishing of women's IDENTITY; while we support that she MUST accept that her humanity is lesser than the one who is owner of a "male" body; while we teach our girls that her agency and her body is to be controlled by a "man"; while he also controls his own. We have held for far to long that the body of a woman is a "man's" and it is there that he performs masculinity. They asked us on Friday to observe two minutes of silence. NO!!! We have remained silent for too long. It is silence that has normalised violence and disregard of women. It is silence that has "invisiblised" the identity of women and caused us to only realise violence against women when it has become a most repugnant and gruesome act. NO MORE SILENCE! It is time to talk. Time to engage. Mi na kibba mi mout' no more! Those who chose to stand, should NOT stand in vain in hot sun. DEMAND that government puts the legislative framework in place to support the spirit of march; where guilty offenders are caught and stricter penalties are imposed upon them. Don't make Government get away with a simple march-in-black. DEMAND that they back this up with policies laws that will punish police & civilian offenders in a timely manner. Only today, Tuesday, 2 October, 2012, Sergeant Oral Williamson was charged with two counts of indecent assault, allegedly committed in 2007. That is 5 years to investigate and charge someone!! Imagine the trauma cause to those who are assaulted/raped and they have to wait FIVE years before they see any hope of receiving justice.
1. So what do we do with the information we have about women & children who are being being abused? Wear black? #QuestionToCivilians
2. Will you still tell women to settle their domestic problems when they call in about an abusive spouse? #QuestionToPolice
3. Apart from this protest which you wrestled from the hands of civil society to organise, what policy decisions will be made to treat with: domestic violence, rape, pay discrimination etc. to show we love women and we are really about securing the rights of women? #QuestionToGovernment