Janet Silvera, Senior Gleaner Writer
MoBay residents arm themselves against rape
Terror and despair have gripped young women in the west who have been reliving the brutal rape of the five females, including an eight-year-old in Irwin Point, St James, Monday night.
The women, mainly in their early 20s, say they now walk with pepper spray, knives, box cutters and sleep with machetes in their beds, ready to defend themselves against would-be attackers.
"I did not sleep a wink last night (Wednesday), as since the rape of the women I have become paranoid," 20-year-old Nickeshia told The Gleaner.
The university student said she has become tense and frightened, particularly whenever she hears any sounds at nights.
"I went downtown Montego Bay on Tuesday and the first thing I bought was a pepper spray," she stated, taking the instrument from her pocket as proof she wasn't lying.
Originally from St Elizabeth, Nickeshia has lived in Montego Bay for the past three years and describes the criminal activities now plaguing the Second City as shocking.
"This is not normal where I'm from. The only challenge we have in St Elizabeth is ganja growing and praedial larceny."
Nickeshia is just one of the many young women with whom The Gleaner spoke yesterday afternoon.
Yanique, another resident of St Elizabeth who now lives in Montego Bay, said she stayed up until 2 a.m. Wednesday night when she finally slept, she had to leave the lights on.
"I am traumatised. I bought pepper spray, I have a mini-knife and box cutter to protect myself," she said, the sadness glaring in her eyes.
The 21-year-old said before moving to Montego Bay she never expected this type of criminal activity.
The university student said she was not about to get caught off guard, and the first thing she has done is change her routine in relation to the times she arrives or leaves home.
Karesha, a 21-year-old Kingstonian, said Monday night's incident has totally changed her mindset about Montego Bay.
"This was not my expectation. This incident has opened my eyes that women are not safe, no matter what age."
In terms of protecting herself, she said she now checks to ensure that her doors and windows are properly closed.
"Coming from Kingston, which was once the crime capital, coming down in this environment has really thrown me off totally. It's as if my womanhood has been crushed."
All three women said they feel as if they can't trust the people in Montego Bay and agreed that as soon as they complete their education, they are going back home.
Twenty-three-year-old Chevolee said she has stopped going out at nights.
"Seven o'clock does not find me on the road."
She has also bought a taser and pepper spray to protect herself.
"I know both are illegal, but so what? When a man is coming to rape me, the police are not there."
Life in the Second City for her has become extremely frightening, she said.
"I don't take taxi anymore. I am afraid that the taxi driver may be a rapist."
Twenty-two-year-old Ashley said she was so scared that she has lost her trust in men.
"Even if it is someone I know very well, I don't trust them either."
The young adult woman, who has lived in Montego Bay all her life, said she was forced to sleep with a machete in her bed.
"That is how scared I am. My life has been taken over by paranoia."
In the meantime, the Montego Bay police last night confirmed that a number of men were being questioned in connection with the Irwin attack.