Diasporic illogic and disrespect
Glenda Simms, Contributor
Glenda Simms, Contributor
In a recent edition of one of the local daily newspapers, it was reported that "a senior member of the Diaspora Advisory Board" had expressed his unhappiness with how the Jamaican public had responded to the apology of Prime Minister Bruce Golding in the ongoing saga of the Manatt, Phelps and Phillips affair and the related extradition drama of Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.
In declaring their disgust with the perceived inappropriate response of the nation, the chairman of the Jamaica Diaspora US North East Region, one Mr Patrick Beckford, made the headlines by positing, "only thing that I can equate it [the response] to is that Jamaica is like a battered wife; the man a beat you but every week him come and him carry $5.00 and we eat and we settle and we smile."
Mr Beckford needs to go back to the drawing board. First of all, he should apologise to every woman who has endured the savagery of the batterer. Second, he needs to acknowledge to the women of the world, in general, and those of North America, in particular, that he has no knowledge of the subject matter that he has chosen to trivialise.
The first objective of this article is to express outrage at the reference that Mr Beckford used to illustrate his frustration with the political impotence of the historically Jamaican tribalised arena.
The second objective is to fill in the gaps in the minds of both our diasporic friends and our home -grown misogynists.
Mr Beckford's five-dollar reunion must, intellectually and emotionally, be understood in any analysis of the impact of violence on women and girls in patriarchal cultures.
Brian Valee, an internationally bestselling author, has concentrated his research and writing skills in the exposure of the horrendous atrocities that are committed against women in the Western world. In his 2007 publication - The War Against Women - he focused on the situation in both the USA and Canada. He argued that we live in a "planet beset by wars".
These include the wars on drugs, terror and crime, wars in the Gulf and in Afghanistan, to name but a few.
Valee used statistics from the USA and Canada to illustrate his concerns. He pointed out that in the USA, over a seven year period, between 2000 and 2006, the total number of front-line military and law-enforcement casualties was 4,588.
He argues that during the same period "the combined total of all Canadian military and law-enforcement deaths was 101.
These fallen heroes, of both societies, are daily honoured by their governments, and the historical and archival records in both places will preserve their valiant and patriotic commitment to their country, fellow men and women.
Valee gave us these statistics in order to frame his concerns and to raise our consciousness to the fact that in both the USA and Canada, there is another battle front which is very deadly, but which is largely overlooked in any analysis of the impact of wars. This, he argues, is the war on women.
He strengthened his point of view by pointing out that in the seven year period which he reviewed, in the USA there were 8,000 women who "were shot, stabbed, strangled, or beaten to death by the intimate males in their lives."
When compared to the USA, Canada, by virtue of its comparative smaller population, has much less death and battering of women and girls than the USA . In spite of this demographic factor, the federal government of Canada "estimates the annual cost of violence against women at $1.1 billion in direct medical costs alone".
To further underline the fact that violence against women must not be trivialised, Valee reminds us that every war zone produces refugees and the war against women also produced 2,500 shelters for 300,000 women and their children in the USA, and approximately 235 shelters across Canada, where at least 100,000 women and their children flee from homes which are best described as "hell holes of fear".
The data on wife battering and other forms of violence against the women of Jamaica remain in the closet.
A bedtime reading
However, Amnesty International in 2006 published a well-researched and believable document entitled Sexual Violence Against Women and Girls in Jamaica: Just a little sex. I recommend this as bedtime reading for Mr Beckford. This will help him to understand that his five-dollar wives are not atypical. They are reflective of the battered woman syndrome. After incidents of explosive and acute battery, there is often a period of calm, loving respite often described as the "honeymoon phase". This is a phase of positive reinforcement and stroking. The battered woman at this stage is, more often than not, blinded by her emotional needs and her personal insecurities.
She will, therefore, suspend the horror of the battering episodes and pretend she is Cinderella being transformed by her knight in shining armor.
Mr Beckford, your five-dollar heroes are evil and menacing. I am now calling on you to either apologise to the women of the world or resign from your elevated platform in the diasporic front row.
Dr Glenda P. Simms is a consultant on gender issues. Feedback may be sent to email@example.com.