The recent murder in MovieTowne is the second to take place at that location. It has had several reverberations, which are as great as those that accompanied the first one, fourteen years ago.
On both occasions our Prime Ministers made insensitive remarks in the aftermath of the murder.
On the first occasion, the late Patrick Manning dismissed the murder by his notorious remark that the woman killed was “collateral damage.”
At that time, in a column published on 15 June 2003, I protested this and the foolishness of the belief that gang related murders did not directly threaten the average citizen.
Much of what I wrote then can be applied to this second MovieTowne murder. The column also foretold how our indifference to murder would undermine peace and good order in our country and I posed some considerations to Mr Derek Chin, the affable owner of MovieTowne.
Fourteen years later, it can now be plainly seen that, as predicted, we have descended into a state of bloody barbarism but on this occasion an additional issue has taken centre stage. That issue is the blaming of female victims of violence for the beatings and ultimately the murder of many of them.
There is a huge perspective change required from Caribbean men and influencing that change should be at the forefront, a coherent social development policy, if we had one.
Regarding the gender bias and oppression and the backlash against the current Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s remarks about women’s choices of men, this is best put in perspective by turning to someone far more qualified than I am to assist readers to understand the problem.
The acclaimed Jamaican born novelist Nicole Dennis Benn described the oppression last year in a piece in the New York times entitled “A Woman-Child in Jamaica.”
She describes how she became public property, something to be shared by men, as soon as she reached puberty:
“But I would soon realise that my (school) uniform could not protect me. This I learned one day as the sun bore down, hot and heavy, in the Half Way Tree area of Kingston. A man reached out and touched my buttocks when I walked by him in my school uniform. I sprang away too late, the touch lingering as long as the drought that year.
“On my walks home from school I would get catcalls from men on the street, men in buses, or men sitting in cars groping themselves—grown men old enough to be my father, who by then was living in America.
“When I’d pull away from strangers or say out loud, do not touch me! they would curse me and the people I came from, their jeers following me all the way down the sidewalk.
“In a remote corner of my mind, I knew that my body was public property—no longer mine. I knew this from the crudeness of that first man’s touch—the firm, possessive grasp. I knew this from our dance hall lyrics—songs that tell our girls that something is wrong with them if they cannot perform in bed or if they resist the pain of rough penetration.
“The looming sense that my body was not my own was a rite of passage that made me one with the fears of my mother and grandmother; Lady Saw’s rage; and the silent hums of other Jamaican women.
“I felt betrayed by my body because it dared to bloom under the eyes of predators that waited outside the schoolyard and in my community.”
“We often end up blaming ourselves. We swallow our guilt in the same way we swallow our truths, failing to realise that our silence, like our mothers and grandmothers and the law, cannot protect us.”
I make no apologies for the length of the quotation. Every word of it should be studied as an expression of a lifestyle from which we must turn away.
As to what I wrote at the time of the first MovieTowne murder: “When the blood of the assassination near to the useless guard booth had dried, Mr Chin was reportedly calling on all associations and citizens of our country to put pressure on the Government to take control of the crime situation.”
He was quoted as saying: “This is a situation which we are concerned about and I think we need to put a lot of pressure to do something about it now because enough is enough.”
I assume that Mr Chin will be in the forefront of those putting the pressure and that he will now leave the comfortable fold of silent businessmen who devote their political attentions only to cozying up to the party in power.
Please tell the silent businessmen to come out like you have done. However, tell them not to wait to come out only when there is blood in their own backyard.
Is it too late, too late for that cry?