Wed | Dec 8, 2021

Don’t treat women as personal property – reverend

Published:Friday | March 8, 2019 | 12:12 AMNadine Wilson-Harris/Gleaner Writer

Church leaders are being urged by one of their own to reconsider the narrative that women must be submissive to men as it gives cover to spousal abuse and the objectification of women as property.

The Reverend Jayson Downer, founder of Men of God Against Violence and Abuse, believes that the submission philosophy is a leading factor contributing to gender-based violence and the spate of murder-suicides tearing many families apart.

“Unfortunately, some of the narratives coming out of the Church have contributed big time to how men view women,” he told The Gleaner yesterday.

“Submission does not mean ‘beat down’. I have heard men hide behind it, and in other words, it comes off that women are property, which they are not,” he said, hours ahead of today’s commemoration of International Women’s Day.

According to a Women’s Health Survey 2016 report, one in four Jamaican women have experienced physical violence by a male partner. The report was published by the Inter-American Development Bank, the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women.

The study showed that almost one-fifth of women who experienced physical or sexual violence remained silent, and of those who spoke, the majority, 40 per cent, told a friend.

“Worryingly, over one-third (39.1) per cent of the women who sought help indicated that they received no help,” researchers found.

“Only 7.8 per cent of women received help from the police, although almost 20 per cent had reported the abuse to the police,” the report stated.

Downer said that his 50-member group has been focused on trying to promote positive masculinity in an effort to get men to be better fathers and partners. This initiative has seen them going into prisons and juvenile institutions to speak to men and boys.

“A lot of these men who are abusers, it is that they were abused themselves also by their mothers, single mothers, who acted out of frustration,” he said.

Added to this, he said, is the fact that “men can’t manage the fact that women are getting more empowered and can do without them”.

The group, which was started six years ago, also partners with the Bureau of Gender Affairs to host workshops in schools. The aim is to model positive masculinity so that boys can learn from early how to coexist with their partners later in life and be good fathers.

Nashan Miller, who is the lead representative for the Special Service Desk for Men at the Bureau of Gender Affairs, has extended an invitation to men in need of help.

“Most of the time, it is cases where they do not know how to communicate, they do not know how to get their point across, and that is also being influenced by a toxic culture of masculinity where a man feels like he needs to be the dominant person and he needs not to take advice and seek assistance,” he said.

“Listen, you can come, you can talk. Whatever help it is that you need, you would be able to get that,” he said.