Tag: Women’s Rights

Jamaica: Shirking its role as a voice against global injustice

Jamaica has never been a shrinking violet on the international scene. Far from it, we have historically punched above our weight and even led campaigns against the injustices that were taking place. Even when our nation was going through great turmoils like the 70’s and the 90’s we were always leading the charge or in full support in calling out the global injustices, be it Southern Africa, Greneda or Cuba we have always had a strong voice and compelling opinions on these issues.

All that seems to have changed however, as over the past thirteen years (when we helped Aristide escape the US backed coup) we have been silent on the pressing issues facing us all. We have shirked our responsibility and forgone our history in order to remain silent and try to suck at the teet of high finance and political power.

Examples of our deafening silence are many and would put persons who left the nation in the 70’s-80’s and those who remember our vocal attitude to shame. We have done nothing for almost twenty years as the world burns around us and as injustices continue to be meted out. A prime example of this and one that we as a nation should be profoundly disappointed with can be found in how we deal with Africa and more to the point Congo (the DRC). This is a nation that has been at constant internal conflict since independence but which has seen the conflict become more heated and brutal in the past few decades. With wanton raping, destruction of villages, the virtual (and sometimes literal) slavery that is the norm in the precious metals and stones mines and the (now common) use of child soldiers we see where we have foreign ministers (from both parties) who are silent on this issue, yet they like to speak of black solidarity, how sickening.

Taking a look a little closer to home and we see the same thing being done by the Jamaican government. The coup of 2009 in Honduras which was condemned by almost all of the world (and admittedly the OAS) was met with a tepid reply of support for the recently ousted president by the Jamaican government and opposition. The political and social situation in Guyana is devolving at a frightening pace (although their economy is doing ok) to the point where we now have a political party, centered around race openly calling for the abandonment of CARICOM among some other radical reforms. The same thing plays out in the nation that should have been a beacon of anti-imperialism but which instead was and still is being destroyed by imperialist and neo-colonial powers, Haiti. As the nation endured (and still does endure) economic devastation persons crossed the border to the Dominican Republic to find economic refuge. To cut a long story short, the descendants of those immigrants are now being (and have been historically) systematically oppressed, arrested and deported. These persons are being held in squalid conditions in detention centers and daily face racist abuse and physical abuse until they are ‘deported to their country of origin’ all for the crime of being black, poor and therefore not having ‘proper’ identification of citizenship. Again we got the same tired and lame condemnations from the opposition and government,but no concrete steps were taken to shame let  alone sanction the Dom Rep government. Again we were silent and are silent as we do business with them as they continue to carry out those atrocities, we have become whores for a few cents and sold our soul in the process.

In Asia the same thing plays out, we readily accept money from the Chinese and never once have we called them out on some of their practices that are nothing short of reprehensible (and incidentally sometimes totally against the ‘orthodoxy’ the CPC preaches). We are silent as Myanmar cum Burma is still embroiled in civil war and ethnic cleansing and instead of calling them out or at least making vocal our displeasure we say nothing at all. Even in the ‘conflict of our times’ the war against ISIS and Islamic militancy our government and opposition only come out of the woodwork’s when a bombing happens as in London (but strangely never when it happens in Nigeria) showing just how much of our once proud heritage of being vocal and active on the international scene has been withered like a grape on the vine.

Nothing though shows the Jamaican government (and opposition’s) total lack of morals and humanity than the recent visit of our Prime Minster to Israel, an act I will always and forever decry and oppose. During this trip, never once did he the head of the Jamaican  government come out publicly and denounce and condemn what Israel has done and continues to do, instead we got a photo-op and cushy smiles while Palestinians were being oppressed. No, we didn’t condemn them or tell them off as we did their spiritual predecessor apartheid South Africa, instead we fawned over their (albeit impressive) technological systems and irrigation systems, ignoring the fact that it was literally built on and watering stolen Palestinian land. And while that oppression continues unabated (and still ratcheting up) we have a government and opposition say nothing, while Palestinian men and women are being killed protesting access to their religions third most holy site we have a government putting machinery in gear to welcome the war criminal, war hawk and Zionist expansionist Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu.

The Jamaican government has lost its soul, it has been that way for some time that much is clear. They will do anything for a buck and will stay silent when the most oppressive things take place even in their own backyard and that is sad. We have lost our voice, have shirked our responsibility as a vocal proponent of international justice and human rights and that needs to change. The people of Jamaica are very knowledgeable of foreign affairs and for the most part are disgusted by what is happening, so why isn’t our government speaking on our behalf as our representatives instead of having disgusting public brawls over garrison seats? We must demand a change, we must insist that our representatives call out international crimes and oppression and uphold our proud heritage, and not just because we used to do it but because it is the right thing to do and history will rebuke us if they don’t.

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Sometimes the hair is necessary

 

Recently more and more people are becoming ‘concerned’ about the poor and how they live. Those who reside in upper St. Andrew sit around their dining tables while preaching and pontificating that those dastardly poor refuse to spend wisely and that is why they are in the predicament that they are in. In short according to those in their ivory towers it is a simple matter of prioritizing and those in the lower classes just can’t seem to get that they say. Things get even more degrading and sexist when you have statements like the one said by the reverend last year who lambasted some women for putting ‘$5000  hair on a $5 head’, now that statement is both repugnant and totally missing two key facts.

The first fact that is seldom spoken aloud in Jamaica anymore is that of beauty and what beauty looks like. We in Jamaica have a very eurocentric way of viewing beauty, a legacy that slavery has left for us. One must ask oneself how often have you heard people commenting on ‘nappy’ hair or ‘bad’ hair? the simple fact of the matter is that in Jamaica beauty is defined in a European context, is it any wonder then why these women wear those weaves> they are doing it conform to our national beauty standard which states that anything negro is bad while the negro must try and elevate themselves to that status of the ‘browning’

Women all throughout this nation put costly weaves in their hair, when UPT does it no one says a negative thing and the ladies are praised as paragons of beauty. However when a poor person does it then we all kick up a stink and then they are called names on top of it, thus  we see the subtle classism and racism that is entrenched in the Jamaican society and psyche.

Then we come to the main debating point, priorities and how they are listed, or economics if you will. Now many persons who see a poor woman in expensive clothes, weave etc believe that they have blown their money on these fancy trappings, but again I think they are missing something crucial and that is the economics. Yes many women (rich and poor) have no business being parents, and yes many a woman goes to a dance leaving the children at home alone.

The sad reality is that a lot of these women dress up and go dance in order to support their kids in any way possible. And while it may sound disgusting, but that is what is being done a lot of times at these dances. And if i may put it so bluntly, the woman in the ghetto with the ‘nice’ hair is far more likely to get a man unlike her natural haired sisters. The sad fact is that rather than have a debate on the issue and see why these mothers put themselves in harms way and feel like they have no way out, however they do and their kids do too which is why so many persons both rich and poor wear these things.

In conclusion, while many mothers are bums (uptown and downtown) it is clear to see that some form of change is happening, but it must be done at a faster pace. We are the nation that birthed Garvey and yet to this day we have persons bleaching their face and other things that are only done when it is sacrifice. We must ensure that we are proud of our, where we came from or how we got here, It will be a long slog but in the end we as a nation need to do this

Do we love our women?

Life as a woman is not easy, and life as a woman in Jamaica is especially hard. This is a nation where we men claim to love ladies and women but that for the most part is a lie and that can be seen in the actions that our men and society in general take towards women. We claim to love them but for quite a few men that is truly not the case as one can’t love something without showing respect or humility, without showing the decency and respect that one deserves for being a fellow human being let alone a potential love interest.

Women in this country must run the gauntlet on a daily basis and the outcome is never a sure thing. Take for example cat-calling, something that a lot of men in this country see no problem with. Cat-calling in this country is not a subtle and romantic ‘hey baby you are looking fine’ or something along those lines but is instead a crass, vulgar string of words about the ’roundness’ of the lady, the mans sexual prowess and how he (in most instances) intends to work her sexually. This is meant in the mans warped world as a compliment and if the woman does not reciprocate or worse still verbally spurns him then she is open to a torrent of abuse, mainly verbal, but sometimes physical. Women live with this fear everyday they walk the streets and frankly this is something that we men need to clean up, it is crass and the furthest thing from the sign of infatuation and is instead the sign of a mind that has little respect for women.

The pressure for sex is also a battle that our women face on an almost hourly basis if i may exaggerate (or is it?). Imagine for a minute being out with a man who has at least eighty pounds on you, who is a little boisterous and drunk and he is asking, nay demanding you as a woman for sex. Is it any wonder that we have so many women who would rather live alone than chance it with the modern Jamaican man who is so heavily influenced by the thug culture? Men, it is time that we stop pressuring our women for sex. It is time we stop with the line ‘if you love me you’ll sleep with me’, that is not love, that is emotional blackmail and the taking advantage of someones feelings, it is wrong and is in no small part leading to our women slowly closing themselves off from the opposite sex.

The threat of rape is one of the unspoken factors of being a woman in Jamaica, and while concrete data is hard to come by, anecdotal evidence tells us that rape and sexual assaults are a frequent enough occurrence for us individuals to know of at least one story personally. We as a society in general and men in specific seem to have little to no issues with sexual violence when it comes to our women, we see this in songs that glorify rape and the ways that our courts treat cases of sexual assault and rape, we see where sexual violence is the order of the day whether uptown or downtown and it needs to stop now. The formation of the Tambourine Army in many ways is very heartening as women seek to empower and liberate themselves from the way that society perceives and treats them but they cant do it alone. Men we need to stand up, be counted and demand that this straight up disrespect towards our women, mothers, aunts and sisters stops, if not who I ask do we expect to bring forth life or be life companions?

The onus however is not just on men only, this is a societal issue and one that can only be tackled and cured once we are open and honest that we as a society have created these norms where women are treated like chattel and are treated with little or no respect. While women’s education, rights and empowerment has come a long way we still treat our women as lower class citizens and expect them to play the role. We as a society put a premium on a woman having babies, which leads to families living in abject poverty. We teach our girls to be kept and looked after and then we are shocked when a woman is killed for having a main man and six ‘boop’s’ one of whom finds out and is none too pleased. We see this warped teaching when we teach our young women that the only way to keep or get a man is through the vagina and then we again act shocked when we read stories of girls at sixteen having had over fifty sexual partners.Don’t be surprised or show faux shock and anger, ones sows the wind and reaps the whirlwind.

The Jamaican society must change how we view our women and we must change how we treat our women. Everyone came from a woman, everyone has a mother or and the vast majority of this nation were raised by a woman, be it granny or mummy so how can we allow  these atrocities to continue towards our women? Women deserve our love and respect, not just because they provide life or because they look good when all dolled up, but for the simple fact that they are humans with feelings and emotions. Let us try to aim for a better way in how we treat our women and girls, because at the end of the day i’m sure that most if not all of us would be very ‘dark’ if what happened to women on the street happened to our mothers or sisters.