Extra Lesson: Part III

Forced Sexual Initiation, Babies and Babylon

Good day fellow Jamaicans. Note that “good day” is simply a salutation in this context and not a reflection of how I feel about today and the state of our Jamaica. It’s only the third edition of this column (admittedly an extremely late one, more on that later) and my ability to parallel dancehall song lyrics with the happenings or develop phraseology that provides some level of comedic relief (in hopes you’ll continue to read my brain vomit) is running low. Nonetheless… As Protoje seh “mi nah watch no face or beg no more pardon”, time fi carry news… #BlxxdMoney

On the syllabus for today is: sexual intercourse, how it seem like somebody never put on dem eye glass when writing the Child Care & Protection Act and why babylon (yes, mi know mi name Matalon) come in like your girlfriend’s other boyfriend (bereeee jim screechiee). As usual, we a go talk up di tings! And then of course, provide some resources through which you can advocate for meaningful change.

Alright so, mek mi “bruk bruk bruk it down”…

In short: young people in Jamaica are prevented, through a variety of formal and informal mechanisms, from accessing emergency sexual health care and family planning services.

Here’s the situation.
The age of consent in Jamaica is 16 years old. The age at which young people can access healthcare without parental consent or post care information sharing with parents or guardians is 18 years old. You see already how the maths nuh really add up (18–16 = 2)? We soon talk ‘bout dat…

According to the Ministry of Health (MOH); 33% of young people have sex before age 15. According to CARICOM; 48.8% of women between the ages of 15 and 24 years old report that their first sexual encounter was coercive. Mek mi seh dat again for the gentleman in the back of the room, clutching his rosary thinking about abstinence education, forty-eight-point-eight per cent C-O-E-R-C-I-V-E. 16% of boys between the ages of 10- 15 years old “did not consent to their first sexual encounter”.

In other words, if we consider these statistics a representative sampling of the overall population; 48.8% of Jamaican women and 16% of Jamaican men are essentially being RAPED the first time they have sex.

Sadly, the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities coalition notes that many of these forced sexual initiations (FSIs) are committed against youth by members of their own household. You also see then, how it welllllll sheg up that the doctor have to go call the pickney guardian (who may or may not have known about the FSI or who may have committed it against the child) and tell them wah gwan…

But hear the MIX UP AND BLENDER now… As we learned in the last Extra Lesson, Jamaican law dictates that rape can only be committed by a man and can only be committed against a woman. In other words, the Jamaican judicial system disputes the FACT that men can be raped. This is problematic on too many levels to count right now but you have the information so let me continue to layout the foolishness wah gwan…

Sidenote: the law states that married women cannot be raped by their husbands (check your calendar, cause as far as I’m concerned, it feel like we live in 1918).

Jamaica has the fourth highest teenage pregnancy rate in the Caribbean. In fact, the Ministry of Health estimates that 18% of all births result from teenage pregnancies. For all pregnancies in which the parents cannot afford to pay for healthcare, the government pays approximately USD2,000 (per pregnancy). You know how many patties you woulda haffi tax fi tek care a baby? Gwan nyam you box lunch…

But what *the beep* does this mean? High rates of FSI and teenage pregnancy, coupled with the fact that most Jamaicans report having sex at 15 or younger, we inevitably can expect to (and do) see: high costs to the Ministry of Health and increasing rates of contraction of HIV/ AIDs and other STD/STIs. So just to mek this crystal clear… every man who bun out condom, have to bun off other tings from certain body parts, youuuuu zimi?!

Who the hell is thinking about and dealing with this mess? As usual, non-governmental organisations. And, a few select members of parliament (Tufton, you is a good yute!). Big up Jamaica Youth Advocacy Network (J-YAN), Caribbean Vulnerable Communities (CVC), J-FLAG, and a bag of other way up, stay up NGOs!

How dis can fix? The original social rights, system-restructuring advocate, donnnesssss, the Hon. Carolyn Gomes (Executive Director of the CVC) says Comprehensive Sexual Education is one major way we can begin tackling this intensely complex issue.

In my opinion (if you never want it, why you deyah??)? We need the following things…

  1. Comprehensive Sexual Education in schools and communities most at risk of being victims to these statistics.
  2. Lowering the age of consent to meet the average age Jamaicans engage in sex, approx. 15 years old or slightly younger (yes, I know this is a hot topic right now, happy to catch a fire in the comments section… #talkupditingggsss) COUPLED with: a) a lowering of the age at which young people can access sexual healthcare services specifically, without parental consent and… b) a redefinition of rape and an abolition of the terminology “forced sexual initiation” — call di blouse and skirt ting RAPE!
  3. A-W-A-R-E-N-E-S-S and greater civil participation in the political process! As usual… Stop eat ackee and fried dumpling a mawnin’ time if it a mek you too tiad fi protest !

So after mi read dis, wah mi fi do?

  1. Call the Ministry of Health, let them know what you know and the kind of change you want to see! You nuh see Digicel a gi weh bere credit? USE IT! 1- 876–633–7433.
  2. Volunteer with dope organisations like J-YAN, JFLAG or the CVC. Every mikkle mek a mukkle…
  3. Advocate at your local community meetings, church ceremonies and schools for greater protection of youth in our judicial and healthcare systems.
  4. Tell yuh friend dem wah gwan.
  5. And remember, as youth, we have to bun out the idea that “cockroach don’t business inna fowl fight”, cockroach deserve dem rights too!

Herein ends today’s Extra Lesson. Big up yourself for being present!

Please do share sexual assualt help services that you know of or find useful in the comments section, on Twitter or on Facebook. I would like to stress that I am available by email at alimatalon@gmail.com and want to provide support for anyone who may have felt uncomfortable, saddened or triggered by this article.

Again, apologies for delivering this edition on Jamaica time… Turns out I had a stalker and had to lay low for a minute.