Do you know about Bob Marley? How about Red Stripe? These are globally acknowledged facets of Jamaican culture, but what else is there to the tiny superpower this island represents?
Jamaica is widely known as a paradise for retreating billionaires and friends of the powerful. The tourist haven is home to a diverse subset of people, including but not limited to expansive Syrian, Irish, Chinese, Arabic, Jewish and diasporic African communities. Fabled for its creative dialogues imparted through timeless musical works and criticized for its brief experiments with socialist democracy, the land of Jamaica is better known for its use of marijuana than its human rights cases. Women, however, have been at the forefront of an ongoing war against denial of rights as citizens rather than rights as property here since the 1400s.
For women who represent a majority population of this tropical terrain feminism is not a word. Social stratification disavows internal criticism of the largely male narrative surrounding the subject of the female sex. Mobility for women in low-income communities is more often than not the freedom to use their bodies as tools for providing economic stability. Girls as young as five are encouraged to trade sex for sustenance in an effort to contribute to their families. Pedophilia and child rape are endemic to areas frequently refered to as “garrisons”. There are no rites of passage involved in coming of age and as a result the young are left to fend for themselves at times of transition. Conformity with a mysoginistic model of women and girls as unrapeable is institutionalized and this repression exists at a structural level. To date no combatant systems have been made to function against the paternalistic stategy of governance. No systems of resistance within inner city communities seek to explain the identical nature of manufactured consent and rape. Children hereby experience a culture of submission to sexual initiation as part of the value system. It is further implied that female worth is determined by ability to consummate desires of the male sex. These aspects of this culture have deliberately been made invisible.
Predilections of capitalism under the influence of colonial occupation are rife. In this culture women are owned. They are property of a heirarchy that dictates by right of regulation over reproductive power that the female sex is not assigned the priviledge of self-determination inside or outside of communities such as these.
Image credit Lili Bernard, Writing by Zena Nicholson