Mon | Jan 21, 2019

Is abortion the answer?

Published:Sunday | November 2, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Chairman of the National Family Planning Board, Dr Sandra Knight, has called for abortion to be legalised. - JIS

Esther Tyson, Columnist

I commend Eve for Life for launching the 'Nuh Guh Deh' campaign dealing with adults having sex with children. At the launch, stories were told of what some of the girls that Eve for Life has helped have gone through. I read some of these stories online.

What is horrific about these tragic stories is that I have heard similar ones repeatedly. This practice of girls being plagued by the sexual perversion of men needs to stop. It is a cultural norm that is harming our society.

The nation keeps focusing mainly on teaching children how to use birth control, yet we need to address a wider cultural issue if we are to improve the lives of our children. We need to change the thinking among Jamaicans that says, 'Ah nuh nutt'n, a little sex.'

Shame on you!

Women who were sexually abused as girls need to start talking about it and explaining how the experience has affected them. Mothers and grand-mothers need to stop using their girls as cash earners, allowing men to use them sexually so they can get money and other material benefits from them. Shame on you!

Mothers and grandmothers need to protect their 'girl chile' from perverted men who believe they can cure disease by having sex with a virgin. Men who have sex with young girls need to be arrested, charged and sent to jail. They need to be made examples to others who have the same mindset.

What is being done about the young girls who are under 16 who are having babies? Victoria Jubilee Hospital is filled with them. What does the Ministry of Health do in these situations? Isn't there a law that says that girls under 16 cannot give consent to have sex? So why aren't we prosecuting those who made these 'girl babymothers' pregnant?

Once again we always seek to cut off the branches off the trees instead of digging out the root. Dr Sandra Knight, head of family planning in Jamaica, is proposing that we legalise abortion. I guess when the big men impregnate the little girls, they will now be able to get rid of the evidence legally and easily. Well, well, we add to all the problems we are having, including a high murder rate, more murder.

Dr Knight does not want the discussion to involve either religion or politics. Here again we keep trying to disconnect our bodies from our souls and spirits. What we do in our bodies affects our minds and spirits. The untold number of women who suffer from depression as a result of abortion tells this story.

Dr Knight admits that she is following the practice of the countries in which she was trained. In those countries, abortion is legal; therefore, it follows, in her line of reasoning, that it needs to be legalised here. The assumption gives us an insight into her thought pattern.

Can we seriously begin to deal with our root issues of how we value family, our women and our children? Can we deal with how our men see themselves? Can we begin a campaign to change how we value sex? Can we target the men, especially, who feel that they have the right to exploit girls? Can we teach mothers to protect and believe their 'girl chile' when they tell them that they are being abused? Can we teach them what signs to look out for that will give them some indication that their child is being abused?

Shocking frequency

My heart is burdened because the sexual abuse of our girls is too rampant and it seems that the emotional wounds are not being taken seriously. Too many girls have had their lives warped and thrown off track because of this malady in our society.

If a survey were taken of guidance counsellors and teachers in the schools concerning how many stories they have heard about girls being sexually abused by men, Jamaicans would probably be shocked by the result.

Apart from young girls who are still children themselves having babies, there are the sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, that these girls contract. The trauma that many of them live through has some turning sexually to other girls.

Then there are the older women who prey on these girls who are vulnerable to their attention because of abuse from men. These women provide material and emotional support for these girls before sexual favours are procured.

Would legalising abortion deal with these societal issues? Would this deal with the sense of low self-esteem that these girls feel? Would it take away from them the mistrust and anger that they feel towards men generally? Would it relieve the feelings of vulnerability and shame?

Let us face what we have before us and deal with it. We are too ready to follow what our North American and European cultural masters are imposing on us. We need to look at what we need to improve our situation.

Can we begin to use our art forms and the media to change the mindset of our people? Can we engage our musicians in creating songs that address these issues?

I am so glad to see that we have some advertisements on TV that show healthy family life, that show young people choosing to make right choices about themselves and their sexual practices. Can we do more of that?

Could we look further than accepting that we have a poor family structure, a skewed view of sex and sexual relations, and look to how we can educate our people on what healthy families and sex lives look like? I do not think that this is impossible, but the policymakers must first have a change in their thinking in order to see Jamaica's future in another way; they must begin to believe that it is possible to change cultural patterns and norms.

We need leaders who believe that our country can be different from what our North American cultural masters are feeding us.

Esther Tyson is an educator. Email feedback to and