Sun | Nov 29, 2020

Devon Dick | "She careless"

Published:Thursday | May 30, 2019 | 12:00 AM

“She careless” was the description, by a man in his late forties, of a young woman who he witnessed being robbed by a bike rider of her cellular phone in broad daylight. I witnessed the robbery and heard the statement by that man one day last week as I walked in Half-Way Tree in the vicinity of the Passport Office. This biker suddenly came out of nowhere with great speed and snatched the phone as this lady was talking. The biker also put her life at risk because he could have hit her down.

The statement ‘she careless’, because she was using her cellular phone in public, is a sad commentary on our society. There was no word of comfort or understanding towards the shell-shocked female. There was no condemnation of the biker as wicked, worthless and reckless. Instead, the victim was further victimised as the comment was made within her earshot.

One of the reasons cellular phones are popular is that, unlike landline phone, one is not confined to a specific place. One can be walking and talking on the cellular phone at the same time and be doing business. Why is this considered careless? Does it mean that one uses the phone in public at great risk? Indeed, there are places in developed countries, such as England, where one is warned about using mobile phones in public. There are thieves in Paris who could steal milk out of coffee.

But when someone is a victim of a robbery, the least that is expected from a fellow citizen is compassion and help. But what is happening? Blaming of victims. This mentality of blaming the victim will hamper crime-fighting and embolden the perpetrators of crime.

So, when a girl is raped by a man, instead of swift condemnation, there are oftentimes excuses that she got what she deserved because of where she was walking, or the dress she was wearing, or her attitude of ‘behaving like she nice’. This mentality of blaming the victims needs to stop and all Jamaicans must intentionally support the victims of violence and crime; make a choice to be on the side of right living and engage in a preferential option towards the one exploited.

This mentality of blaming the victim is what feeds the ‘informa fi dead’ culture. Instead of being so enraged by the plight of the victim of the crime that it leads us to say what we see and know, we become silent, and worse, we encourage others to be silent. And worse still, we threaten others who testify on behalf of the victim. This code of silence and oath of secrecy is life-threatening. It should never be ‘see no evil and report no evil’. This makes the wrongdoer feel that envy is a normal way to live life. It makes the offender believe he is entitled to a life of criminality.

Men are engaged in warped thinking and behaving and support each other. This is also happening in religious circles. Recently, five Catholic priests were charged in Michigan, USA, for criminal sexual conduct. And there was an instructive analogy used by a priest. One priest wrote about a fellow priest’s sexually abusive behaviour and said, ‘If someone drops an apple and the apple gets bruised, there are two sins, the first one belonging to the person who dropped the apple, and the second to the apple for getting bruised’ (Yahoo, May 26). By blaming the apple again, the victim is blamed equally as the offender.

So, who is really careless? The offended, the offender or those who blame the offended?

We are caring less for the victims when what is required is that we care for persons who are weak, exploited and abused.

Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of ‘The Cross and the Machete’, and ‘Rebellion to Riot’. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.