Wed | Sep 28, 2022

Ethon Lowe | Jamaica: A culture of violence - 14 children killed and 83 raped so far this year

Published:Tuesday | June 4, 2019 | 12:00 AM
Dr Ethon Lowe

‘Thou shall not rape and kill young girls’ is not one of the Ten Commandments. How could God miss this one? Even prayers emanating from ALL the churches beseeching Him to stop the killings of our young girls remain unanswered. God is either indisposed or presumably has better things to do with His time.

Jamaicans are certainly no angels. Sorry, all the angels are in Heaven. Here is one very staunch diehard fan of Usain Bolt replying rather unflatteringly to my article ‘Bolt: the fastest but not the greatest’ in the Jamaica Observer, August 31, 2016: “What him have to do (to be great), lick the ground wid him tongue? Why don’t yuh f… yuself!”

Not being a contortionist, I couldn’t comply.

The article which fuelled three pages of mostly venomous comments on the Internet actually extolled Bolt’s athletic prowess, but argued that his potential for greatness would come only after he retired (á la Muhammad Ali).

Still not convinced? Imagine you are a motorist unfortunate to hit down an equally, if not more unfortunate pedestrian, who blindly stepped in front of your car. You might be sorely tempted (if you value your life) to head for the nearest police station, rather than stopping at the scene of the accident. Admittedly, a tragic accident. But better to be a criminal motorist and alive, than a law-abiding motorist and dead. For this is Jamaica and there is no shortage of machete wielders. They don’t take prisoners.

The Jamaica of world-famous athletes, entertainers, slick con artists and lotto swindlers, and back in the day, there was the notorious Jamaican Shower Posse, which made the Italian Mafia look like Boy Scouts.

Consider our national music, reggae/dancehall, which glorifies sexual immorality and violence, impacting on our impressionable young minds (N. Am. J. Med. Sci. March 2010). Trashy lyrics masquerading as stylish, we should ignore if they weren’t so violent. Here is Mavado: “so the AK stay boy head buss like bomb bay. Kill boy inna church when the pastor a pray. Murder our likkle bredda pon yuh funeral day. Cut the newborn throat”.

Shouldn’t we take him seriously? Even our beloved swear words, R/C and B/C, are greatly admired worldwide and highly effective in dealing with minor annoyances – obnoxious humans and duppies.

With all this pedigree, who wouldn’t have high self-esteem? And with high self-esteem comes aggression and high self-confidence. Although most people with high self-esteem are not violent, when one’s favourable view of oneself is disputed or undermined (due to poverty, lack of opportunity and unemployment,), this is a potent recipe for violence.


Economic inequality rather than poverty seems to be the problem. When African-American teenagers living in underclass neighbourhoods where violence is common, move into better neighbourhoods, enjoying equal economic status as white teenagers, they are no more violent and delinquent.

Jamaicans are temperamental people, volatile, excitable, quick to smile, but also quick to anger. They tend to have high but unstable self-esteem. They think highly of themselves in general, but are especially prone to act defensively to ego threats, resulting in hostility, anger and aggression. History’s greatest oppressors, notably Adolf Hitler, Stalin, Ida Amin and Saddam Hussein, weren’t exactly humble, modest guys with deflated egos.

Our nearest animal relative, the chimpanzee, the most aggressive mammal, raises the possibility that the forces of evolution prepared us for violence. Physiological processes, such as the hormone testosterone, are also implicated in aggressive behaviour. Young males have high testosterone and are responsible for the bulk of the violence.

The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology, (Vol 92 Issue 7 July 2007) showed no difference in testosterone levels between Black and White men, but levels were higher in Mexican Americans.

Correlation between violence and testosterone levels in Jamaican males is not known, but it has been shown that fathers with higher testosterone levels tend to have a poorer quality relationship with the mother of their child (Journal of Human Nature: ‘Testosterone and Jamaican fathers’).

Rape is not only about sex and lust, it’s about aggression, power and humiliation, using sex as a weapon. The rapist’s goal is domination. Jamaican men adhere to rigid views of gender roles and masculinity (for example, belief that men need more sex than women, sex is a prerequisite for being a real man, and men should dominate women). Not surprisingly, Jamaican men are notorious women beaters.

Man’s discovery that his genitalia could serve as a weapon to generate fear must rank as one of the most important discoveries of prehistoric times, along with fire and the use of tools. And, if size matters, shouldn’t we see Jamaican women running for their lives?

Email feedback to and