Boys abused in silence
Barrington Flemming, Gleaner Writer
A senior official of Women Incorporated in western Jamaica has decried the cloak of silence that results in many cases of sexual and physical abuse against boys going unreported in the society.
Elise Thomas, western regional director of Woman Incorporated, whose office covers St James, Hanover, Westmoreland, and Trelawny, indicated that many persons have blatantly refused to report cases of sexual abuse against boys because they believe the boys will be too ashamed in a society that celebrates ideas of masculinity in its males.
"Our boys are under serious attack, physically and sexually. However, because of the Jamaican culture, it is not reported, as it ought to be," said Thomas. "We keep silent a lot of times, because, to hear of a boy being molested and you are in the community and people know, it's worse to talk about it than when it happens to a girl, so it is kept quiet and that is a shame."
Thomas argued that the silence has proven detrimental to the victims, as it allows the perpetrators to continue to abuse them because nothing is said or done about it.
"When you keep silent, perpetrators continue to abuse these boys, because people say they are too ashamed to talk. However, I would encourage them to speak up, because when you speak up, you open up the situation and expose it, so it is no longer a secret, and the perpetrators lose their power over the victims," said Thomas.
She reiterated that confronting the issue head-on would ensure that the relevant interventions are taken to treat and restore the victims to their rightful function in the society.
Thomas said while for the first quarter of this year no cases of sexual or physical abuse against boys were reported to her office, research and information obtained from other sources indicated that boys were being abused.
She said there appeared to be greater levels of abuse of girls and women and that many cases were reported to her in relation to girls that would subsequently be referred to the Child Development Agency, as her office only deals with cases of persons 18 years and older.
Thomas blamed the continued incidences of abuse on a devaluation of morals, where God is taken out of the lives of people and there is a celebration of violence in songs, which is then accepted and played out in real life.
"What we find is that some boys and men say they are already dead, so they will hurt and maim and kill without a care in the world," stated Thomas. "They have become callous ...; they think it is the norm to do this, and in many instances, they get away with it."
Thomas further argued that many children are not attending Sabbath or Sunday school, where moral values and attitudes are taught and affirmed, so they grow up without any moral direction.
Thomas said while men and boys are the perpetrators of sexual abuse and violence against women, some women are accepting of the harsh behaviour of men and boys.
"Sexual abuse is dominant and some women are accepting of rough treatment. They verbally express it in conversations with peers, and in songs, women beg you to come and hurt them. They want hard, rough treatment, so men are psychologically and verbally goaded into giving them what they ask for," Thomas said.