The Development Challenge

Jamaica must achieve sustainable economic growth in order to eliminate the root causes of crime and violence. Even though poverty has decreased substantially over the past 20 years, this is attributed more to the impact of migrants’ sending money home as opposed to any economic growth. At the end of 2002, the country’s debt had reached 140.3% of GDP.

The percentage of government revenue used to service debt remained essentially unchanged at 63% as compared to the previous year, an indicator of the stifling impact of debt on the government’s ability to invest in today’s citizens and the leaders of tomorrow. Furthermore, extremely high interest rates on the government’s domestic debt are stifling other more productive economic activity. Meanwhile, the government continues to grapple with ways to control sharp exchange rate fluctuations, while working to reduce the potential negative impact of inflation (12.2% in October 2003 versus 6.7% one year before).



Jamaica and Crime has become synonymous as this activity continues to dominate the lives of Jamaicans. In 2005 the number of murder hovered over 1670, breaking a previous record – again. Most Jamaicans are now living a life filled with fear. The capital city of Kingston is largely deserted at night and it is without a doubt that the impact of rampant crime and violence is being felt across the Island.Many have consciously, or unconsciously altered their lifestyles in order to enhance the little security there is.

Some for the most part intentionally avoid driving through ‘volatile’ communities, disregard traffic signals at late night, refuse to walk even a quarter mile in the day and nights, install low cost to expensive security mechanisms and arm themselves with knives, machetes, and for the lucky few guns. How much longer can Jamaicans continue to live a life consumed with fear?. How long can living in the ‘murder capital of the world’ be tolerated? Social Structure Theories

Heavy-handed policing will not break the back of Jamaica’s crime dilemma. The negative social and economic factors such as high unemployment, underemployment, shabby housing, high school drop out rate, single parent households and teenage/young adult gangs need to be addressed more than an influx of aggressive policing tactic.
The Social Class Divide

Scholars, politicians, commentators and the man in the streets have spoken ad nauseam on the causes of all the spiraling crime and violence. There seems to be an emerging consensus on all sides that social and economic conditions along with the criminal justice apparatus must to be improved, before crime and violence can be brought under any real control. Despite this however much of the debate on a solution to the huge number of crime and violence plaguing Jamaica, centers on the utilization of Jamaican style heavy handed policing and its typical offshoots of extra judicial killings and the deprivation of human rights.

Like any society across the planet, middle and upper income Jamaicans engage in criminal activities albeit they do so at a much lesser frequency. It is a fact that the most violent crimes occurs in poor inner-city communities. Arcadia and Grants Pen are both located in the same geographic area, yet Grants Pen residents are accustomed to standard violent flare-ups whilst Arcadia residents are largely unscathed by such violence. The only nuisance related to violence experienced by Arcadia residents is the sound of gunfire coming across from Grants Pen. The same phenomenon exists across many parts of the Corporate area, St. Catherine and Montego Bay.

In this economic context, social pressures are inevitable since after debt service and payment of public sector salaries, only 5.5% of the government’s yearly operating budget is available for all other expenditures. Crime and violence remain high, with Jamaica having the third highest murder rate in the world as well as significant amounts of domestic violence – this is significant because Jamaica is technically not experiencing an form of full scale war, external or even internally. These high levels of crime and violence erode the social fabric, chip away at the concept of rule of law, and weaken the very foundation of the bond between a government and its citizens.

Further, high crime and violence lead to exorbitant financial costs that divert otherwise productive resources into increased security measures, and for managing in the aftermath of criminal acts. Moreover, crime and violence are symptoms of much more fundamental social ills such as weakened family structures, poor education, high unemployment, failed justice systems that are unable to bring redress in a timely manner, and political tribalism.Since 2002, high unemployment at 15.1% remained essentially unchanged from subsequent years. The quality of primary education remains generally low in the public school system, due mainly to a shortage of resources.

Fueling the fires
in the party-dominated societies of the first (third) world including Jamaica’s, there is an unjustified overbearing pressure to go along with the views of this or that party even when great wrongs are being committed by those parties. There is an overbearing and unjustified pressure on the “small man” or “woman” to opt for the party of the “lesser evil” and so on. Who ordained such approaches? Who are the individuals saying we “must” support this or that party? To vote for this or that Party?

In the 1970’s Jamaica struggled for a way out of poverty, economic dependence, joblessness, racism and as a result she became a pawn in the Cold War, between America Inc. and the U.S.S.R. After Michael Manley replaced his father in 1969 and defeated the JLP (Jamaica Labor Party) there were great changes made to domestic and foreign policy. Michael Manley’s People’s Socialist National Party (PNP), represented the have-nots fighting to hold ground against Edward Seaga’s conservative Jamaican Labor Party (JLP), representing the haves.

In the 1976 election, the PNP campaigned against oppression, imperialism, and capitalism, strong attempts were made to include the urban poor, blue-collar workers, youth, and the unemployed and underemployed in politics. Philip Agee, former CIA officer (in an interview on the documentary, “Rebel Music”) confirms that the CIA was supplying guns and anti-PNP propaganda to the conservative JLP. (Some Jamaican’s began calling Seaga “CIAga.”)

Agee states, “The CIA would look upon the radical political content of reggae as dangerous because it would help to create a consciousness among the poor people, the great majority of Jamaicans.” In 1976 Bob Marley was approached and agreed to play a concert entitled ‘Smile Jamaica’ which had been organized by the Government of Jamaica, in order to quell much of the violence taking place in the country particularly between rival political bandits who lived in areas controlled by political parties who would exchange food and homes for political allegiance.

Three days before the intended concert Marley along with his manager, his wife Rita and others, were all injured in an assassination attempt. The PNP administration wondered if he would go through with the concert, but despite Rita’s reservations Marley did play at the concert, and used his music to show defiance. Manley’s supporters claimed that the CIA was supporting Seaga and covertly supplying him with arms, while Seaga’s supporters characterized Manley as a closet revolutionary who would turn the island into another Cuba.

It eventually became clear that the voters blamed Manley for the country’s economic crisis. During his eight years as Prime Minister had made some significant contributions to Jamaica: a minimum wage, free education, equal pay for women, newly built health centers and 40,000 units of low-income housing. But endemic poverty remained, and critics charged his administration with woeful mismanagement. His relationship with Fidel Castro frightened the middle class as well as foreign investors. Soon Jamaica found itself with a severe brain drain and an inability to finance the increased cost of oil imports. Food shortages, in fact, provided Seaga with a key theme. “We are in a country that produces sugar, and you can’t get a bowl of sugar.”

The election soon boiled down to a choice between proffered economic solutions: Manley’s Third World socialism vs. Seaga’s Western-backed free-enterprise monetarism. Reckless rhetoric from both parties also tried to turn the election into a false battleground between “godless Communism” and “sinister fascism.”
Edward Seaga.

A Harvard graduate (in sociology), Seaga -now retired- spent several years in a rural part of Jamaica studying child development and also wrote a book on the island’s spiritualist cults. At the age of 29 he became the youngest member of the legislature, where at the time he was considered more leftist than Manley.

He held Cabinet posts in both the Labor governments that ruled from 1962 to 1972; as Finance Minister he earned a reputation as a tough administrator, especially in plugging tax loopholes. He and his wife Mitsy, a former Miss Jamaica, have three children. In an interview sometime back, Seaga dismissed accusations that over the years have painted him alternately as a Communist and a fascist. “The fact of the matter is that I am very much in the center”. His immediate problem, he explained, would be to renegotiate the country’s $1.5 billion debt and deal with the country’s virtual bankruptcy.

As to continued violence, he had expressed optimism that he would be able to bind the nation’s wounds “Once the decision has been made.” he said, “the people who are the losers usually move out of the way because they don’t have anything to fight for any more.” Some of Seaga’s decisions included sending troops to help the US invade Grenada in October 1983. As the PM of Jamaica at the time Seaga had always been part of the problem that Jamaica had been facing since Independence.

October 25, 1983

This was the day when the Corporate United States, committed armed assault on Grenada. Grenada, is an even smaller and poorer Caribbean country than Jamaica. The invaders killed hundreds claiming they went in to “rescue” American students. The Jamaican Prime Minister at the time, Edward Seaga, a close friend of the US President Ronald Reagan, sent in Jamaican troops “to help” his American compatriot. Only a couple of other Caribbean countries followed Seaga’s example. To this day this Anglo-Saxon born in America still continues to have certain elements in Jamaica under his mythical spell, in a case of the colonized worshiping the colonialist
This is an excerpt from the excellent book ” High Crimes of Murder” by the Conscious Rasta

CIA involvement in the arming of the JLP-linked gangs

CIA involvement in the arming of the JLP-linked gangs was revealed by the former agent Philip Agee. By the end of the 70s, JLP and PNP politicians bought gunmen as a means of sustaining political influence and handing out jobs and favours. After the 1980 election in Jamaica which brought the CIA stooge Edward Seaga to office, Jamaica became a sweatshop for American manufacturers, with Nike paying 20 cents an hour to handpicked cheap labour. Seaga turned the police and army onto the gun gangs whose expansion he’d overseen. By the mid 80s, the Americas Watch human rights monitoring group estimated that one third of the island’s homicides were committed by the police.

The gangs moved to New York and Miami, and many of them became street soldiers for the Cali cartel. In 1976, Jamaica, because of the intensity of political violence, was under martial law. Political warfare was taking place in the streets of the island’s major cities. The populace was divided along class lines with the masses of the working class, poor and dispossessed supporting Prime Minister Michael Manley’s People’s National Party (PNP) and the elite backing the opposition Edward Seaga’s Jamaican Labor Party (JLP). Both camps made use of armed street gangs recruited from the ghettos of Kingston and outlying areas.

Additionally, offshore influences deepened the conflict; the leftist PNP in solidarity with regional socialists and the JLP backed by the wealthy Western powers. In reference to the 1976 peace concert the book states: There was a lot of jealousy. As a result, a number of people conspired to assassinate Marley in the days before the concert. The men who tried to assassinate Bob were never brought to trial; they were all murdered themselves. Vigilantes hung them in the ghetto long before the police could even find out who they were. It was pretty grisly. …After Bob was shot and he survived, he went on to perform at the concert, which was December 5, 1976, in Jamaica.

He was supposed to be under government protection, but many of those men vanished. He was supposed to take a plane out of Jamaica the following day under police protection. And those guards vanished. It was a very mysterious thing, the point being that he was left vulnerable again if someone else wanted to try to kill him. It was a very spooky, sinister set of circumstances. Pictures that were taken of Marley and people hanging around his house, where the assassination attempt took place, later vanished under very mysterious circumstances.”Any kind of record of who those people might have been just vanished.”

From High Crimes of Murder: “CIAga and Ronald “Raygun”
A confidential CIA airgram dispatched to the State Department from the American embassy in Kingston on April 28, 1981-about four months after Ronald Reagan’s inauguration-revealed the cynical motive behind Seaga’s oddly timed bestowal of the Order of Merit, to depict as disreputably unpatriotic Opposition leader Michael Manley’s People’s National Party. As the classified communiqué carefully explained: “Jamaica’s Governor General, Florizel Glasspole, was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II on April 17, four weeks after Prime Minister Edward Seaga had announced the Government of Jamaica’s decision to allow Jamaicans to accept foreign honors…(The Governor General received 150 congratulatory messages and cables on the first day after the announcement and many more on subsequent days.)

Government members in the House of Representatives paid tribute to and congratulated the Governor General when the House met on April 22. At the same time that Jamaica House released the news of the Governor General’s knighthood, it was announced that Jamaican reggae star Bob Marley, who is being treated for cancer in the Federal Republic of Germany, had been awarded the Order of Merit, Jamaica’s third highest honor. In responding to the government’s tribute to the Governor General, the Opposition moved to congratulate Marley at the same time and allowed itself to be maneuvered into a position of not paying tribute to the popular Governor General.”

Thus, in one stroke, Seaga had both humiliated Manley’s democratic socialists and defused the explosive legacy of the Third World’s most renowned rabble-rouser. Once it might have been unseemly for Seaga’s Reagan-steered regime to have celebrated a musician who actively endorsed black leftist struggles for freedom and self-determination in Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique and South Africa. But Marley’s terminal illness and Seaga’s election mandate of October 30, 1980, had allowed the canny new prime minister to cloak the courage of the reggae firebrand’s convictions with a cultural garland that smacked of a gratuity.

We can thus conclude through such documentation that there had been quite an interest in the Rastafarian reggae movement and those who had risen to lead such a progressive struggle. And as indicated in the previous paragraphs, the issue of the British Crown issuing such titles to non-British subjects leaves room for suspicion and speculation. It’s very important for people to realize two things: The Third (first)World is most of the world, and that, from a philosophical standpoint, no one is free until everyone is free. People in government realize that. There’s so much of a focus on the Caribbean in the last 20 or 25 years as a strategic point in the Western Hemisphere, in terms of both military and cultural significance.

So someone like Bob Marley, who was supporting freedom struggles around the world, in Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, and behind the Iron Curtain, was a very threatening figure for the conservative presence around the world… The United States government disagreed with Bob Marley in terms of who he chose to support, and the way he saw the freedom struggles in South Africa or wherever.

In modem times, certainly in the post-war era, the United States government has been very conservative in its perspective. It has supported a lot of sleazy dictatorships, for cynical reasons, figuring that if the government that’s in power is friendly toward us, especially from a business standpoint, they’re the lesser of two evils. Marley felt that was a lousy way of looking at the world.

Excerpted from High Crimes of Murder
By Keidi Obi Awadu-Conscious Rasta

2 thoughts on “Jamaica- another revolution deferred, part 3

  1. Jamaican child-rearing practices: the role of corporal punishment
    Adolescence , Summer, 2003 by Delores E. Smith, Gail Mosby

    These outcomes not only have deleterious consequences for the individual but for families and society as well. In one study, 66% of the boys and 50% of the girls rated as highly aggressive were from home environments where physical punishment was the preferred disciplinary approach (Headley, 1994). Other studies have documented the long-term psychiatric and behavioral outcomes of physical maltreatment in childhood. Kamsner and McCabe (2000), in a review of the literature, found evidence of a strong link between physical maltreatment in childhood and later promiscuity, prostitution, teen pregnancy, and criminality. Specifically, male felons reported significantly higher rates of child physical abuse than their noninstitutionalized peers. The review also noted significant associations between child physical abuse and adult psychiatric illnesses such as Anxiety disorders (panic disorder, social phobia), posttraumatic stress disorders, and depression. Further, Kamsner and McCabe, in their own investigation, found that child physical abuse was “the dominant abuse variable to contribute significant]y to the prediction of trauma related outcomes” (p. 1255). Sharpe (1997), in addressing the issue of mental health and socialization in the Caribbean, focused on the problem of parental discipline and neglect. Based on clinical observations, she indicated that “conduct disorder and childhood depression were common among victims of abuse and that the only cases of posttraumatic stress disorders seen in the clinic were in victims of abuse” (p. 268).

    Heimer (1997) hypothesized that when adults use power assertive and violent disciplinary methods, they teach children that coercive force, aggression, and violence can be used to resolve conflicts and problems. Using longitudinal data, Heimer demonstrated that violent disciplinary measures against children translate into violent delinquency later in life; violence experienced in childhood accounted for 39% of the variance in subsequent violence. Similarly, Paschall, Flewelling, and Ennett (1998) found that exposure to violence put children at increased risk for violent behavior. Crawford-Brown (1999), although not specifically studying physical punishment, examined the impact of parenting on conduct disorders in Jamaican adolescents. She found a significant link between inadequate parenting and conduct disorders, with the child’s perception of the parent as a negative role model as a contributing factor. While Crawford-Brown’s research did not indicate the expressed features of the negative role model construct, Rice (2001) contended that parents are positive models for their children when they restrain their expressions of anger and demonstrate that hitting and other forms of violence are unacceptable. Conversely, parents become negative role models when they model aggression.

    In general, research has confirmed that physical force as a means of punishment increases children’s vulnerability to psychosocial dysfunction. The reliance on physical punishment to control behavior inhibits children’s development of internal controls, conformity to rules, and concern for the welfare of others. It also creates in children the propensity to misunderstand how power is appropriated and wielded, and teaches them to become beaters themselves (Swinford, DeMaris, Cernkovich, & Giordano, 2000). However, some studies have shown a differential effect of physical punishment along gender lines. While physical punishment predicts externalizing behaviors, such as later violence, in males (Kamsner & McCabe, 2000), internalizing effects, such as depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, and psychosis, are more prevalent for girls (Frias-Armenta, 2002). The Jamaican context does seem to lend credence to gender differences in behavioral outcomes; the overwhelming majority of violent crimes occurring in Jamaica are committed by males (Robotham, 1999). However, there is controversy regarding the discipline meted out to each gender. Some have noted that boys are flogged more often and more severely than girls, while girls are subjected to more verbal abuse (Leo-Rhynie, 1997). Others have maintained that mothers are more restrictive of their daughters, to protect them from sexual contact with boys and potentially deleterious outcomes (Barrow, 1996; Evans & Davies, 1997; Phillips, 1973).

    Excerpt full article here

    The literature has purported that the discipline typically practiced by Jamaican parents and caregivers teaches children to be violent (24, 25). Flogging, a culturally sanctioned form of punishment, is the primary disciplinary practice utilized by the majority of parents and caregivers, while spanking (as opposed to flogging) is practiced by only 3% (25). Adults “hitting [children] with a belt and sticks is omnipresent. There is also pushing, with children being flung bodily into furniture . . . [and] boxing, hitting, kicking and chopping children” (4). These are common responses to perceived misbehavior. “Children are regularly smacked, flogged, and even threatened with weapons” (26). In 1998, 80% of children in childcare facilities in Jamaica reported experiencing abusive incidents at the hands of caregivers (24). A study by the Jamaican Ministry of Health, found that 84% of children reported being beaten with an object at home while another 8% reported being kicked, bitten, or beaten up (4). In 2002, 2 183 children were treated in emergency rooms across the island for injuries inflicted by parents and caregivers; 70% of those cases involved the use of sharp or blunt instruments and 18% involved the use of bodily force (4). Undoubtedly, the pervasive use of harsh physical punishment in the home (and society) has legitimized the use of violence against children (1, 24, 25). It may be instructive to know that in a Jamaican study, 66% of boys and 50% of girls in the Jamaican sample rated as “highly aggressive” were from homes where physical punishment was the primary disciplinary measure (27). Scholars have contended that if society employed strategies to reduce abusive, hostile parenting, the incidence of societal violence would decrease significantly (21, 23).

    Jamaican parenting blog


  2. Here is a story of what Jamacian women are saying about Jamacian men

    Jamaica Observer

    Jamaican men are not ANGELS, say overseas Jamaican women
    Sophia Findlay Laidley, Observer staff reporter
    Monday, January 17, 2005
    (Last week Jamaican men overseas spoke about the reasons why they preferred Yankee women over women from their own country. They argued that Jamaican women living in the United States were jealous, conniving gold diggers. This week the women tell their side of the story.)

    The Jamaican man is considered a unique and very masculine specimen by women worldwide, but there’s an adage among Jamaican women living on foreign soil that most of the good Jamaican men are left back home.
    These women think that once the Jamaican man steps off the plane and gets to know the subway routes- everything changes.

    Some Jamaican-Canadian women – to their chagrin – are convinced that these ‘hardcore’ Jamaican men are not worth their while, for several reasons.

    “Firstly, they’re too lie. Most Jamaican men that I’ve come across are dishonest. That’s one of the reasons why I’ll never date another one again,” declared Donnette Morgan, a 38-year-old marketing supervisor, who has lived in Toronto, Canada, for over 25 years.

    “I’ve just had it with them. I’m with a Grenadian man now. Whenever Jamaican men see us, they try to put me down by saying that I’m with a ‘small-island man.’ But I tell them that I’m going out with a small-island man with a big mind and not with a big-island man with a small mind,” she said.
    According to Morgan, she would never commit to another of her countrymen again.

    “The last Jamaican boyfriend I had was just the last straw. When I first met him, I asked him pointedly if he was married and he told me no,” she said. ‘After his wife found my telephone number on his cell phone bill and started calling and harassing me, I confronted him about the situation. His explanation was that if he could do it again, he would have lied again because if he hadn’t done so he wouldn’t have gotten me in the first place.”

    Morgan was angry at the complaints made by the Jamaican men in last week’s all woman article titled: “Give me the Yankee woman over the Jamaican”. In that story the men stated clearly that Jamaican women were jealous, envious, golddiggers and conniving control freaks.

    She was also disgusted at their blatant attempt to place the blame squarely on the Jamaican woman.

    “They have to, as it says in the Bible, ‘ pick the beam out of their eyes first’ before they pick on the Jamaican woman.”
    “Most of the uneducated Jamaican men here definitely do not treat their women good,” said Sonia Crooks, a nurse, who migrated to Canada 26 years ago.

    It’s her view that the Jamaican man’s irresponsibility and his inability to adapt to the different situations abroad make it seem as if they (the women) have changed after migration.

    The main problem of many Jamaican men living in Canada was that they abused their women, she argued.
    “One of the things about Jamaican men is that they love to beat their women and when they discover that they can’t get their way, then they stray and blame everything on the woman,” said Crooks, a mother of four, who on her own has bought a home in the suburbs.

    Lorna Simms, editor of Dawn Newspaper, a Canadian multicultural bi-monthly magazine, agreed with Crook’s observation of family conflict and domestic abuse in some Jamaican households there. She has tried counselling them herself and continues to do so through her publication .

    “Domestic abuse is taken seriously abroad,” she writes via e-mail. Speaking directly to the men who complained in the article about the Jamaican woman being conniving control freaks, she advised: “You have to discuss issues with your wife or woman. The days of ‘thumping her in her mouth’ or ‘boxing her down’ will land you in jail and yes, if you don’t change your ways, there will be a restraining order against you, so that you can’t even go within twelve feet of the house you’ve bought.”

    The women she says, adapt more easily to the culture and are glad they can call the police, or go to “shelters’ if they are being abused.

    “I have spoken to a few men who become extremely angry when they are slapped with restraining orders and can’t go near their homes, until they agree to take ‘anger management’ counseling. I try to counsel them, when they drop by to complain that they only “gave her a little slap,” she explained. “I feel sorry for their financial position. Many men feel the North American laws ‘gang up against men”, but they have to put aside the old ways. Sometimes the women do sympathise, take them back, disobeying the court’s orders, only to be beaten more severely.”

    “The complaints voiced by these disgruntled men in the barber salons reflect the archaic “rights” they thought they deserved…For the most part I have dealt with wonderful upright Jamaican men and women who have nothing but respect and honour for each other,” Simms said.

    The constant conflict that exists between the sexes results from a reaction to the men’s disrespectful actions, the women say.

    “I am personally offended by the men who continuously bash Jamaican women because of their own inadequacies,” a Jamaican female resident of Queens, New York said. “Just because they are now in the land of the free and home of the brave then they themselves have become brave and have taken to “white woman and Latino women” all because these so-called better women bring no drama.”
    Crooks takes it a step further.

    “And yes, many women of other races and nationality will pick them up because they are sexually uninhibited. The Jamaican man likes that because now, he can get lots of oral sex, no question asked.”

    A Fort Lauderdale female resident who asked not to be named agreed. She said that Jamaican men needed to examine themselves to see why they prefer romantic involvement with other women than their own.

    “Jamaican men fail to be honest and admit that it is not the drama that Jamaican women bring to them that sends them running to other women but the fact that a White or Latino woman is quick to fall on his penis, no matter when he pulls it out. Is that what makes them so-called “better” than we are? she asked. “We want to know where it was last, and when last it was tested. American women are really grateful when it comes to having a man.because men are in such shortage here and half of them are in jail that it is better for these women to have a deadbeat, wanna-be that keeps coming home to have sex. It’s like heaven to them, but not so with our Jamaican shortage or not.”

    The women argued that instead of casting blame the men should focus on cleaning up their act.

    “Believe me, Jamaican men are no angels and it is definitely no walk in the park to deal with them on a romantic level,” said Dionne Dixon, a Jamaican female, living in the United States. “They are stubborn and quite as much control freaks as they claim we are. They have no morals on fidelity. They believe that their promiscuous behavior is justified because they are male and have no regard for their companion’s feelings. They are ungrateful and often take their women for granted.”

    “I strongly believe that some of the experiences described in the article may have been triggered by Jamaican men’s demeaning behavior towards women,” she said while explaining that all Jamaican men are not the same.

    “I don’t think all Jamaican men should be classified by these few examples. Likewise I cannot extrapolate my few experiences to represent all Jamaican men,” Dixon stated.
    Marcia Donalds, a 38-year-old data entry clerk, who married her Jamaican childhood sweetheart and took him to live with her in Canada, is disappointed at her husband’s lack of involvement with responsibilities of the family. Not only that, since he has migrated to the country over 15 years ago, he has had extra-marital affairs and has even bore children with his mistresses. Five children later, and still living together with the bulk of responsibilities resting on her shoulders, Donalds feels betrayed.

    “Jamaican men expect a lot from their women. They don’t believe in equality. They believe that you should have 90% of the responsibilities and they 10%. They are lazy and most of them only worship vanity such as the latest pretty clothes, fancy car and just looking good,” she said. “I think that when most of them leave Jamaica, they don’t adapt to the Canadian lifestyle. Nothing is wrong in being patriotic to your country but the Jamaican man is dead-set in the Jamaican culture and offers no flexibility.”

    Josephine Beckford, a 44-year-old Events Coordinator in Toronto, Canada, is adamant that once abroad, the core of the Jamaican woman does not change.
    “I don’t think the Jamaican woman change per se. Instead, I think she has just gotten exposed to different opportunities. She adapts faster to her new environment and establishes herself quickly. She realises soon that she has more choices, so she is not totally dependent on her man,” she said.

    “Back home in Jamaica, it’s more difficult for the average female in a relationship to be liberated because if she voices her opinion too forcefully, she might get hit or have her weekly household allowance withheld from her. Now, the average person in Canada can do all of the above without having to be from an elite class, or even to be middle-class,” Beckford continued.

    But there is more to it according to Barry Chevannes, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus. He explained that the Jamaican man living abroad is in a complex situation.

    “He is subjugated in a patriarchal society (a man’s world, man ruling man), where he is seen as a threat to take over. It’s men posing a threat to other men that causes the marginalization,” he said. “An additional problem that the couple faces is racism but the brunt of that is directed at the black male rather than the female.”

    Chevannes explained that the man has less negotiating skills, while faced with the burden of racism in those circumstances and that the women are accepted easier, simply because she is not a threat. He said that it is easier for the woman to adjust and manipulate the system, upon migration, if she is educated.
    “Another thing, if a woman is developing at a faster rate than the man, then they’re bound to break up because of misunderstanding in the family,” the sociologist said. “The two will have to grow together in order to stay together, or else they’ll grow apart.”

    Chevannes offered coping tips and suggested that couples work together in understanding the system.

    “It is better to have a proper understanding of what is taking place. If more and more couples understand the system then they can act together and that can change it. But if the genders split off from each other, nothing can be achieved,” he said.

    “That positive relation has to start with an understanding of a more complex situation-less education and racism,” Chevannes said.

    Crooks agreed. “It’s not necessarily that we want to abandon our men. It’s quite the contrary, but we are frustrated. We can’t find a match overseas to match our intelligence. Perhaps the good, and educated Jamaican men are back home after all,” she said.

    Copyright© 2000-2001 Jamaica Observer. All Rights Reserved. Terms under which this service is provided to you.


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