Gordon Robinson | Chucking responsibility on rape
It’s pathetic how obsessed we are with other people’s sex lives, how afraid we are of reality, and how careless we are with our children’s futures.
So Delroy Chuck, in opening a parliamentary debate on the report of a joint select committee appointed to review the Sexual Offences, Offences Against the Person, Domestic Violence, and Child Care and Protection acts, focused on adult sexual or sex-related ‘offences’, condemned biblically. Probably unwittingly, he exposed a pervasive fear of confronting the Church by separating God from Caesar:
“If we touch buggery or abortion, it’ll affect the saving laws clause in the Constitution, so Parliament must make its recommendation, whether we want to remove the saving laws clause. ... But once we touch these two particular offences, it immediately has constitutional effect and, therefore, this Parliament must bear that in mind.”
Really? Seriously? Whatever we do, for God’s (oops, sorry, Church’s) sake, don’t ‘touch’ those contagious pandemics, buggery, and abortion! Best to bury our heads deep in Hellshire Beach the better to pretend current criminalisation eliminates these God-forbidden abominations and keeps society clean, healthy, and morally pure. As usual, he’s afraid of an illusion. The “savings law clause” that makes Chuck, a qualified lawyer and criminologist, cringe in legislative fear ONLY protects existing sexual offences laws (like buggery) from constitutional attack. NOTHING in the Constitution restricts or prevents repeal/amendment of these laws. If they’re repealed, there’ll be nothing to attack or protect.
But, for me, the most disappointing part of Chuck’s presentation was the blatant manipulation of many Jamaicans’ fear of different sexual orientations and terminations of unwanted or dangerous pregnancies to ignore or trivialise much of the committee’s deliberations regarding child abuse. For example, we retain an obsolete definition of rape that’s restricted to non-consensual vaginal penetration which, because we’re petrified of somehow accidentally legitimising the ‘abominable crime’ of buggery, ignores the mental and physical torture endured by victims (including children and especially boys) forced into sexual relations not involving vaginal penetration.
Buggery carries a much lighter sentence than rape and doesn’t discriminate between consensual or forced penetration. But cowering in fear of inadvertently legalising all consensual adult sex, we continue to expose our children to dehumanising, degrading, violent introductions to sexual relations not punishable as rape. Government asserts that states of emergency “save lives” yet doesn’t (or won’t) see its reluctance to deal realistically with sexual offences against children as having the opposite effect.
Introduction to forced sexual penetration of any kind at an early age is a soul-destroying fate worse than death. Murderers send their victims home to God. Dirty old men (of all ages) condemn victims to a lifetime of psychological trauma and sexual repression. We must abandon our perverse, fear-driven fixation with buggery and anti-abortion laws and, instead, educate our young girls regarding the evils that lurk in the hearts of sexual predators.
Young girl gwan ah school ya.
Nuh follow nobody
‘Cause that man weh a call yu sexy
could be twice your daddy!
Mi know time ruff like grater.
Plus yu Momma don’t have it.
But please (mi ah beg yu)
nuh mek dem come mess up yu body!
In our culture, poverty is used by mothers as an excuse to rent or sell their daughters to murderers of self-esteem and happiness. Daughters are taught at puberty that the way to a better life for the family is to become pregnant for the Big Man. Instead of its brainless fantasy with adult sexual practices and adult choices, Government should address these realities. Educate parents (parenting requirements) and children (sex education) FIRST.
Hey, Mommy, yu fi listen to your daughter
when she tell yu she nuh happy
Yu see di signs & turn a blind eye
Mi ah beg yu fi stop it!
That man weh yuh have ah come check yuh
When yu lef’, him still ah tarry ...
You left yu young girl all alone
Nuh tek you daughter sell out to ...
Your dutty man.
Yu dutty man
leave di people pickney dem alone!
Yu dutty man
y u know it’s wrong.
Leave di people pickney dem alone!
It’s a disgrace, man ...
You’re just a waste man ...
Second, educated families will insist thatParliament protect their children from sexual predators (Jamaica’s REAL sex problem) by real-life legislation. It’s also a complex problem since ‘Dutty Man’, as condemned by the talented Romain Virgo, comes in all sizes, shapes, and social status. He’s often helped by victims’ families and witnesses who turn blind eyes because of a particular ‘Dutty Man’s’ stush standing.
Unoo fi talk up; talk up
if unoo know dem thing yah ah gwan!
No badda wait ’til it too late.
Ah right now we fi sound di alarm!
Unoo fi talk up; talk up if unoo know dem thing yah a gwaan!
And if yu know and yu nah say a thing?!
Yu wusser than … .
Di Dutty Man
Leave the people pickney dem alone
Yu likkle dutty man
Leave di people pickney dem alone
Romain Virgo, unafraid of seeing, understanding, and exposing the complexities of child sexual abuse, was surprised to see 10-year-old Teshae Silvera upload a video of her singing his as-yet-unreleased Dutty Man on Instagram. But her effort so touched him that he invited her to perform a duet with him at Reggae Sumfest 2019. Teshae suffered somewhat from stagefright on the big occasion, but they subsequently recorded a beautiful acoustic video of Dutty Man that’s not to be missed.
These same complexities frighten lawmakers into the safe political harbour of buggery and anti-abortion laws. Delroy Chuck was relentlessly academic in exposing his sexual myopia:
“Would you want to see rape remaining in its traditional definition and any other offence being a sexual assault carrying, probably, the same penalty?”
No, Delroy. That’s NOT an option unless you’re happy with the present state of Jamaica’s child abuse problem. Why’d we want to sweep realities of sexually predatory behaviour against children under a political carpet called ‘sexual assault’ while failing to protect our children with an accurate definition of rape? How’d your concept of sentencing harmony work? Would rape sentences be reduced to the same 10-year maximum as buggery by negotiated compromise among all ‘sexual assaults’ to keep sexual realities under that carpet?
Chuck continued (smirking): “Or do you think that, as many countries have done, rape should include not only penetration of the vagina, but, as you say, the nose and ears? It seems to me to be getting a bit wayward.”
Maybe you think it’s funny, Delroy, but rape victims don’t. Wayward? Christ on a crutch! Persons are raped with or without penetration in orifices not remotely resembling a vagina, but the law continues to pretend that only women can be raped and only in one orifice. One notorious murderer was convicted on forensic evidence proving that he forced his male victim to perform oral sex before execution. Isn’t that rape?
For years, Lisa Hanna has championed reality-based sexual offences legislation, and from as far back as April 3, 2018, brought this dogma-driven legislative muddle to parliamentary attention with an impassioned plea, particularly on behalf of young boys, for the definition of rape to be widened:
“There’s a disparity between how we treat sexual offences on a boy and on a girl. It’s something we’ve run around because for some reason, it’s an uncomfortable discussion that we have as legislators, but it’s a real problem.
“I have seen 11-year-old boys raped. I have seen 12-year-old boys raped by people they trust, and they are scarred because they can’t talk about it because of the stigma attached.
“Many of them, when they go to the hospital, or police, they tell them they can’t deal with that. So we have to find a way (if we’re really going to look at some of these things) to look at the discrepancies.
“There’s a real, honest conversation we must have about our boys … .”
Nobody listened, and it has taken another 18 months for the committee’s report to be completed and a parliamentary debate started. No doubt it’ll be sidelined by the political excitement of the next general election, forcing Parliament to ‘pull up’ and start all over again. Meanwhile, Delroy Chuck offers us Hobson’s choice, makes “nose and ears” jokes, and calls widening the definition of rape “wayward”.
When will parliamentary furshlugginers ever make a serious “assault” on rape which, by any orifice, traumatises as deeply as it penetrates? Jamaica’s unhealthy attachment to the buggery law is causing us to abandon our boys and girls to Dutty Men for fear that filling legal gaps will somehow legalise consensual sex between adult men.
We need to grow up. So our children can.
Peace and love.
- Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to email@example.com.