Skip to main content

When Being A Woman Is Criminal

Don't get me wrong. Don't get those hate mails ready. I am not saying being a woman is criminal. I am, however, suggesting that being woman, makes one vulnerable to so many social ills and open to judgment and ridicule because of same vulnerability. Somehow, women are held to different moral standards. They are expected to be bound to codes of conduct that their male counterparts often find impractical and unliveable and if any woman ever dares to break those codes, she "wins" the ire of all - including other women. It is weird how some women have bought into their own subversion and subjugation. Patriarchy had successfully robbed them of the intrinsic sense of worth and equality that they have to men. It is that pilfering of the sense of self, equality and empowerment, I am arguing in this post, that creates the opportunity and reason for some women to do what the rest of us would consider unthinkable.

In today's Gleaner (Saturday, February 16, 2013), there was an article entitiled, "Slain 16-Y-O's Mom Charged". Felecia Bell, the 46-year-old mother of slain 16-year-old Martha Byrowe, allegedly facilitated a relationship between a 40-year-old man and her 16 year old daughter for quite some time now; from the deceased was under the age of (16) consent.Bell has been charged with two offences under the Child Care and Protection Act: "failure to report a child in need of care and protection and failure to exercise proper care and guidance to a child." I remember seeing this poor woman on television, incriminating herself, not even seeming to understand how she had acted against the best interest of her child.

Now, let me say upfront that I believe in the protection of our children. I further believe that those who compromise the well-being of our children should be held accountable. However, I want us, even as we hold them accountable, to examine the systems & environments that provide the opportunity for them to act in those ways. Women - poor women especially - tend to be complicit or active in the (sexual) abuse of their children. Being woman and being poor is double jeopardy and having children to care for, in addition, might be triple jeopardy.

So often, I have heard the argument, "why are these poor women having children for whom they are unable to care?" Well, seldom do those poor women have the cognitive skills to reason like their more privileged contemporaries. And, often, their sexual and reproductive rights are traded for economic survival or sometimes it is usurped by the men in their lives who are "allergic" to condoms or who will demand raw sex (non-compliance is sometimes dealt with, with busted lips, swollen eyes and financial blackmail). Perhaps not having that as part of one's own reality might abolish empathy but we must never silence those women who experience such or make them invisible. What we must begin to look at is how we can take proactive steps that will empower those women economically so that they have autonomy over their own sexuality and over that of their underage sons and daughters. While Miss Felecia Bell's actions against her child were wrong and must be repudiated, for me, the greater offense is the systems of entrenched patriarchy, sustained inequality and poverty that continue to rob women of their sense of value and women and their ability to attain financial/economic independence and viability. Her first crime was being woman; her second being poor and her third was acting against her daughter because of the former two.


  1. Very well said. Eve for Life Jamaica is urging all Jamaicans to try to discourage the MEN from exploiting and using our CHILDREN as sex objects... We should tell them "No Guh Deh." Leave them alone! If the men didn't feel it was OK to do this, then there would be no need for this kind of situation to arise. It's not cool, it's not macho. It's ugly and dirty. As you say, the women are in the first place vulnerable just through virtue of being a woman, and poor.

  2. Thanks, Emmz, for passing by. That campaign by Eve for Life is one that I FULLY endorse and support. Our woomen and girls need our collective voice and action.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


"They need to get their priority in order."

"They do not have money to send their children to school but they have time to put in hairstyle!"

"I am not sorry for them at all. They too wicked."

These are among the value statements we make against people living in economically depressed conditions. We speak with such contempt when it comes to the poor and how they "adjust their priorities." We, with our well-thinking selves, impose upon those we presume ourselves to know better than, a set of values and priorities we "know" to be good for them, so that they can get their lives in "order".

It was from this position of "awokeness" and perhaps being "well-intentioned", then President of the West Jamaica Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, Pastor Glen Samuels, spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast in 2016. He did so to great chorus, as his audience erupted in laughter and loud applause, approving what was a v…

The Wicked Woman We Love to Hate!

Choose a Caribbean island - any one. There's a mother who's just beat her child with the first thing that her hands fall on. The Caribbean is inundated with narratives of mothers who dare not spare the rod and spoil the child - mothers who dig up ants nest and put their child to kneel in it, on a grater with their hands tied behind their back; mothers who use a hot iron to burn the hand of their thieving child; mothers who go into schools to box up the disrespectful child for answering back teacher and bringing shame to her name.
These are the things that Caribbean mothers do. They do this, not necessarily because they are wicked, but in the name of discipline.

We are a people who have learned violence. It's become part of our social DNA. Our parents learned that violence was how transgressors are taught to do better and behave better. They learned such violence from their parents, and their parents from theirs and their parents from the plantation. The whip is what we le…


Social Media, and in particular twitter, has become a space for spewing caustic and vitriolic effluent at people with whom we disagree. I am sometimes amazed at how people feel so empowered and emboldened sitting behind a screen to descend into the bowels of utter nastiness to express dissent to something that someone else posted. It is worse now that we have 280 characters instead of 140. It means that the nastiness is times two. But social media can be and has been used as a source of good. I have been the beneficiary of deep friendships and formed a formidable network of people who have supported and pushed me along in my professional and personal life.Yet, we do not hear many stories about the power and reach of social media. In this post, I want to speak about a quiet Superhero that I encountered on social media.

I had been working in three vulnerable communities in the last couple of years on a urban disaster risk reduction project being implemented by Habitat for Humanity Jamai…