When things fall apart
Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold; /Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/ the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned
- William Butler Yeats
These lines aptly describe the violence and abuse being meted out to Jamaica's children and the loss of innocence for many. For years, I have been saying that if we do not deal with the rapid erosion of the moral
fabric of Jamaica, we would be reaping a whirlwind of destruction. We are now experiencing the whirlwind.
I remember saying in the 1990s when there were so many reports about children in the USA being abducted that at least in Jamaica, we look out for our children. This has rapidly changed. Now we are afraid to have our children play out in the yard without adult supervision, feel fear when we see children walking on the streets alone, and no longer fear for just our girls, but also for our boys.
The recent incidents of two 14-year-old girls being impregnated by adult men and then murdered by them indicate how far we have fallen as a nation. Following on that is the report of the 11-year-old girl in Clarendon who was raped by two men and the lack of response by the police when the matter was initially reported. This approach by the police is the result of a systemic lack of regard to the sexual and physical abuse of our children.
We have heard repeatedly that when rape or sexual abuse cases reach the courtrooms, there is hardly any offender who is given the punishment that he deserves by the jurors because the attitude is, "A nuh nutt'n, a likkle sex." In addition, when some of our girls who have been abused by family members - father, stepfather, brother, cousin and try to let their mothers or grandmothers know, they are verbally and physically abused and told they are lying. This is particularly so when the accused supports the mother financially.
There are many stories of girls being abandoned by their mothers because the mother's babyfather, who sexually molested the daughter, says that the girl is lying. Some mothers do not even go so far as to question the man, but immediately becomes defensive in fear of losing the 'bread and butter', and even kicks out her daughter. Then there are those mothers who, when confronted with the situation by a teacher or guidance counsellor, says, "A nuh nutt'n. Me go tru it, she nuh can go tru it too? It never kill me." Even more reprehensible are those who actually pimp their daughters to men who can give them money and support their families.
Many of our children are so intimidated by the power structures in our society that they never speak out about the abuse that they are experiencing because of fear of reprisal, of being accused of lying, of being abandoned by their families, Church or school. Too many times when persons in authority in the Church are involved in sexual abuse, the victims and their families are made to feel like outcasts.
So, insult is added to injury when the abuser is defended and protected and the abused suffers rejection and cursing. There are too many instances where because of the sexual abuse our girls suffer at the hands of men, they begin to turn to other girls or women for emotional and sexual intimacy.
I am thankful that the Child Care and Protection Act has been put in place and more persons are being sensitised about the rights of the child. There is still, however, a lot more that needs to be done legally to ensure that our young girls are protected from predator parents and men who want to use them to fulfil their warped financial and sexual needs.
A recent report from the police speaks to the practice of teenage boys robbing people in downtown Kingston. Investigations have revealed that parents are sending these boys out to rob and bring their proceeds home. Laws need to be enacted and enforced to punish the parents who are using their children in this way. Furthermore, I am tired of hearing that these men who are impregnating young girls cannot be identified because the families and the girls protect them. There must be ways that investigation can be done to find out this information and bring the men and the parents to justice.
Jamaica's name is fast becoming a byword internationally because of our high level of crime, violence, corruption and our economic woes. This latest phenomenon of big men murdering underage girls whom they have impregnated has brought us to an even lower level of disrepute. We must begin to restore the moral fabric of our nation so that we will display the right values and attitudes that will uplift us as a people.
We need to realise that money is not the greatest good. The example of that message being touted in Jamaica is seen in Digicel using Michael O'Hara in a marketing stunt at Champs. The rampant buying of students by well-endowed schools is another such example. If corporate Jamaica and principals are chasing winning at any cost what can we expect the young to do? We need to use our music, dance, and media to teach our people consistently to honour God first, their families, nation and themselves above money. If we continue to make it excusable for people to be lawless on the roads, in daily transactions, on the buses, in government business because to obey the law means "Yuh a bax bread out a dem mout," then we are sowing further to our own destruction by holding up money as the highest good. If so, "dawg nyam we suppa".
We need to remember that righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.