Orville Taylor | New Year’s crime wishes; women have the key
Two days to go before the new year, one main problem divides or unites us - violent crime. Whatever we might choose to do with it, we have only one tongue, and thus, can't say two things at the same time. On the one hand, there are sycophants, who think they are doing themselves or the country a service by spreading the word regarding how unsafe this place is. We simply have to be truthful among ourselves regarding the status of things in Jamaica. This is so for crime and other areas such as human rights and freedoms.
Well listen this, if we are saying that tourists are in dire danger, returning residents are very likely to be murdered, women are significantly marginalised, LGBTQ people have marked for death tattoos on their backs and that the Government does not have control over a 'spiralling crime rate', then we cannot argue that there is no precondition for a state of public emergency (SOPE). However, if we are saying that there is no 'emergency' but we have put in place enhanced security measures, then there is no justification for the maintenance of the SOPE.
For all the negatives about this country, spewed even by Jamaicans who put their ugly mouths on their mother country, this is a beautiful place to live. There has been measurable economic growth, mega construction projects are taking place, investor confidence is up and many of the fiscal and other economic data really do point in the direction of the Government's appropriated word, 'prosperity.' Freedom of the press is one of the best in the world, corruption among our judiciary is much lower than the US and UK. In the continued purge of lawlessness in our constabulary, we have arrested and charged more police officers per capita than many of our international critics and our democracy is stable.
Despite the hullabaloo from gay tribalists, who seem to have a different 'agender' from the sensible majority who want justice, equity and non-discrimination, our homicide rate of LGBTQ individuals is significantly lower than that of the US and many other countries who describe us as homophobic.
HIGH INCIDENCE OF FEMICIDE
Interestingly, one of my main beefs with these extremists is that they never seem to have a real interest in matters affecting women. For example, how come the message is almost never heard that females, who produce more fluid during female-female sexual encounters than male-female, are at risk of transmitting HIV to each other by this method? Yet, we warn heterosexual men and women of the dangers of fellatio and cunnilingus.
Similarly, since outlawing anal sex supposedly drives the epidemic into the background, why aren't we also advocating for the decriminalising of prostitution? Thus, ironically, the discrimination against women is perhaps highest within the very groups which push for human rights.
What we have in Jamaica is a high incidence of femicide. True, the majority of people who are killed and killers themselves are young men. However, the numbers of women and girls who are killed or abused annually in Jamaica is a bigger problem than 20 men who the security forces have in custody and cannot seem to find evidence to charge them.
In 2014, when gang-related homicides were falling, domestic violence and violence against women and girls increased. No SOPE is going to cure the deeply endemic virus which feeds violence and I am urging the Government to start paying more attention to the work of the behavioural scientists in the 'intellectual ghetto'. A large part of the solution to the phenomenon of crime is women. Women raise gunmen, murderers and model citizens. Women give support to their criminal boyfriends but also are key informants. They teach our children, torture them, turn them into barrel children and show them to either love or hate or that lives matter or don't.
That the enhanced security measures of 2018 are correlated to a reduction in homicides is not up for question. Nevertheless, as academics and scientists, we cannot simply jump on a bandwagon or political platform and say that 300 lives have been saved.
Every first year social and natural science student knows that correlation and causality are not the same. So we cannot honestly say that it is the SOPE itself which led to the reduction of homicides.
What I want in 2019 is more direct and honest conversations about crime and security and not knee-, or any other type of-, jerk reaction to the homicide rate and that is whether we think we have a hand on it or not.
Nevertheless, my deep wish is that the prime minister's extended hand to the leader of opposition be taken in good faith. However, dialogue does not mean that one should bend over and accept the other side's position on the SOPE. Hopefully, they also get some independent women into the discourse to help lead them to a comfortable middle ground.
- Dr Orville Taylor is head of the Department of Sociology at the UWI, a radio talk-show host, and author of 'Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets'. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.