Issue Brief: Homophobia and Violence in Jamaica

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J-FLAG has recently published an Issue Brief on the state of Homophobia and Violence in Jamaica. Please see report below.

Since July 2013, subsequent to the murder of 16-year-old Dwayne Jones – a transgender teen in St James – there have been several news reports of brutal attacks perpetrated against LGBT people across the island.

In August 2013, a group of five LGBT persons were marooned by an angry mob in a community in Manchester; a transgender female was attacked and had to be rescued by the police in Portmore, St Catherine[ , and two gay men were evicted from their home in Central Village, St Catherine. There have also been allegations of murders including the killing of a popular transgender performer in Spanish Town, St. Catherine.

These news reports have reinforced the argument that LGBT people live in very difficult circumstances and are at great risk of discrimination and violence. However, many Jamaicans argue LGBT people are no more at risk of violence and abuse than anyone. Some, including persons aligned to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), have also said that incidents of violence against LGBT people are perpetrated by LGBT people themselves.

There is however, little evidence to substantiate any of these claims. The police has very little documented reports of violence against LGBT people and those recorded by J-FLAG have not all been investigated.

This briefing paper aims to provide information on the total number of reports documented by J-FLAG since 2009 and the similarities with national data provided by the JCF. It is intended to guide a more informed discussion about LGBT discrimination and violence. Finally, it is hoped that this paper will provide the impetus for the Ministry of National Security and Jamaica Constabulary Force to take further steps to empower persons to report all incidents of violence and conduct thorough investigations.

Read here: Homophobia & Violence in Jamaica – J-FLAG 2013

My Womb: Who Owns it?

I am deviating a bit in this piece from my usual LGBT-themed posts to talk a little about women and their reproductive rights.

Blog procreationI write about this because somewhere in the minds of a few (?) Jamaicans (and I suppose other nationalities) it is a woman’s duty to procreate and replenish the earth with offspring unlimited.

Whether as women we believe it is our duty to procreate through planning or if “wi happm fi get ketch”, it does not give us the right to discriminate against other women who do not share that view regarding the function of their anatomy. Not all women care to ignite their maternal instinct (if they have it). Not all women have the desire to mother a child or children. And certainly not all women are equipped with the skills to be an effective parent (I suspect theignostic1 is one of those).

Blog procreation 2Furthermore, if a woman “happm fi get ketch”, it should be her right to determine if she wants anything (or anyone?) to be housed temporarily in her womb. It’s hers, right? Well, I would like to think so. I am not aware of any law in Jamaica that makes a woman the mere occupier of premises where her womb is concerned, on the supposition that the Crown has absolute ownership of all wombs much like property/land. If that law does in fact exist, all in favour of abortion should begin the process of seeking asylum.

A woman, in my opinion, is the ultimate decision-maker with respect to her womb. At an early age I made a decision not to procreate and was duly informed that as soon as I entered mid-twenties my perspective and philosophy on same would change. Sadly (?), I am in my 30s and I still choose not to “multiply and replenish the earth”.

Blog procreation 3Why does every woman need to replenish the earth? Are we aware that there is “an overall increase in the number of reports [of abuse and neglect of children]…over the period [2007-2011]” according to the Office of the Children’s Registry [2012]? Are we aware that persons who give birth are abandoning the beautiful ones who have been born? Are we aware that the state does not have a handle on child abandonment? Like seriously, what is this fuss about women who do not want to procreate or women who do not want their wombs occupied, or women who just don’t want to mother a child? Get over it!

—I think this is ranting, not blogging. My apologies.

Peace.