Fri | Apr 28, 2017

Column: Poverty, stagnation and sexual violation

Published:Friday | March 20, 2015 | 3:00 AM
The house where 14-year-old Kayalicia Simpson was chopped to death when she went to use the outdoor toilet seen in the background.

RAPE IS a crime. It is a heinous abuse, generally against women.

The rapist makes a very unilateral choice to force, degrade, dominate and violate. The result is a permanent scar on the psyche, and sometimes the body, and often on the behaviour of victims.

Rape is such an affliction on the woman that in some countries, the punishment to perpetrators is death.

In Jamaica, the raping of young girls, and sometimes boys, has become almost commonplace. So often are the reports heard on the news media that we have to brace ourselves to remain incensed against this most brutal of crimes, lest we develop ennui towards this barbarity.

The latest case that has racked our brains and hearts is the criminal and brutish murder of 14-year-old Kayalicia Simpson of Yallahs in St Thomas.

I have not seen the autopsy report to confirm whether or not the young girl was sexually abused on the day she was murdered, but press reports state that she was pregnant. The laws in Jamaica do not give a 14-year-old, or any person who is a minor, the right to consent to sexual activity, so the man who made Kayalicia pregnant raped her.

The police have announced that they have taken in a number of persons for questioning. We hope they find the perpetrator quickly and that justice will we swift and fair, and of a severity to match the crime.

It is regrettable that men are getting away with rape, and sometimes murder, in Jamaica. Oftentimes, family members suspect, or know, that the violation of our young girls is taking place, but they cover up the crime because of fear, family, or other reasons.

POVERTY AND PIMPING

Many area leaders in inner-city communities, more popularly known as 'dons', developed a sickening practice over two or three decades. It is this: They would set their eyes on an attractive, invariably underage, young girl and send one of their hoodlums to tell the mother or parents of the girl to send her to him so that he can rape her - no doubt a word other than rape would be used. Fear, sometimes mixed with a little cash, was the currency employed to buy obedience to the request.

It is apocryphal, but many who tell have circumstantial evidence to back up their tales, saying many mothers find some trusted country aunt or cousin to take their lovely young daughters off their hands and then report to the press and or police that they are 'missing'.

This approach, no doubt, saved those who had such an escape route, but the predator don, one imagines, just summoned the next young girl.

Given that money could be made off their young daughters, some women take things into their own hands. They suspend any thread of morality that they may have, and have taken to the practice of offering, selling, their young daughters to older men, who are warped in their souls and who are willing to offer a few dollars for illegal underage sex.

One would have to believe that both the mother and the man have lost their moral compass - if they ever had any.

Two weeks ago, a group of us were discussing the gruesome Kayalicia murder. One of the men, who is in his late 50s or early 60s, mentioned an incident that had happened to him on the streets of Kingston a few days earlier. He was walking pass a woman with three young girls, maybe underage by his estimate, and as he reached to open the door of his car, the woman asked him if he wanted one of the girls to go in the car with him.

She was not asking for a ride for the girl; she was offering the girl as a sexual partner. When the matter of mothers pimping their daughters for money and gifts reach the daily newspapers, one can take it that the practice is probably fairly widespread.

STAGNATION FOSTERS DEPRAVITY

Many of us know many poor people who have very high morals. This is especially true in the countryside. However, when persons have to live in extremely close proximity in very deprived inner-city circumstances, tempers, respect, dignity, privacy and morality - everything gets frayed.

Many inner-city folks strive hard to maintain their morality and dignity, but it's harder in cramped spaces.

Think what happens to the sexuality of a small boy or girl, or two or three, who must sleep in the same bed in which their mother is having sex with the current boyfriend. The children are learning about intimate sexual activities far too early, the mother is losing her dignity on every occasion, the man is exposed to the young girls and, given that rape is a perversion power play, looks for an occasion to separate the rest of the family from the object of his desire.

From the reports I hear on the radio talk shows, the men who do these acts keep their prey in sexual bondage, sometimes for years. All this time, the poor girl is becoming psychologically and sexually tangled and warped.

Cramped quarters, financial need and economic deprivation have fostered widespread depravity.

While Kayalicia did not live in the inner city, take a look at the picture of her home!

If she was of the economic means to have an inside bathroom, she may still be alive. Pervasive poverty, and no economic activity or growth in many of our communities, is killing off our people.

• Aubyn Hill is CEO of Corporate Strategies Ltd and chairman of the Economic Advisory Council of the opposition leader.

Email: writerhill@gmail.com

Twitter: @hillaubyn

Facebook: facebook.com/hillaubyn