I took Jamaica’s minister-minister to task for seemingly being glib in his citations of why young people should be glad to be Jamaicans. It’s not hard to become seething with anger on the matter of youth vulnerability, which makes Jamaica a decidedly unpleasant place to be.
Young people have their governmental cover split between the ministries of education, and youth and culture. Some have argued that these ministries should be merged. That’s not my current contention, though I can set merit in merging education and youth; culture could find its place better in some ministry they focused on development.
That vulnerability was put into one of its ugly contexts by a report in the Sunday paper today. It focused on the appalling level of sexual assault. It was supported by other stories of fathers preying on daughters and rape by a landlord. Those assaults are running near 1000 cases. That’s close to the number of murders each year. In many senses, they are similar crimes–taking away a life.
Sexual assault and the fact that much of it goes on inside families is one of this island’s dirty little secrets. Last October, the Children’s Advocate noted how sexual abuse needs to be perceived differently in Jamaica. One problem noted is that many people view it as ‘just sex’, and not having much long-term effect on the victim. For that reason, while alleged victims often believed, their assailants are rarely prosecuted. Another problem, is that some men see initiating sex with a girl child as part of the ‘right’ coming from raising that child. I’m no psychologist, but both notions seem really out on a beam.
Sex with minors has created a bad social cycle, as research shows that four out of five girls born to underage mothers also become underage mothers.
Add that to the pile of dysfunction that exists in Jamaica.
Land that we love it may be, but plenty goes on that doesn’t jive with any idea that the place is just bursting with life like video clips from Pharell’s ‘Happy’.