As usual, when Jamaicans have a conversation about sex, it all goes sideways.

The current debate on the definition of “rape” and age of “consent” has majored in the minor (pun intended).  The word “rape” has its roots (Latin “rapere”) in 15th century England and is related to the Latin verb “stuprare” which means “to defile, ravish, violate,” and the noun “stuprum” (literally “disgrace.”) meaning “to abduct (a woman), ravish;” also “seduce (a man)”.

So, the origins of “rape” are gender neutral and the word carried more of a kidnapping or stealing connotation (“to seize and take away by force”; “to snatch, to grab, to carry off”) rather than any sexually explicit intent .  The essence of rape has always been the taking of innocence by force rather than the modern semantic obsession with “penetration” and “vaginas”. Following British legal tradition like sheep for 500 years, we’re now debating whether Statutory rape should be decided by a number (age) or an orifice.

While we argue endlessly, young women and men of all ages are regularly abused sexually by persons society hold in high esteem. Not only do we seem unable to stem the apparently ingrained cultural tide we’re incapable of recognizing the problem.

Dance and shake your tambourine;
your funky tambourine,
tambourine, tambourine…

A “Tambourine Army” seemingly dominated by female victims of sexual abuse, marched recently to “protest violence against women”. Apparently, a grand time was had by all and I’ve seen evidence on social media of this Organization’s facility with condemnation but I don’t recall one concrete proposal towards understanding or addressing the issue.  Even leading feminist diva Annie Paul admitted, in one of her columns: “For the victims of abuse who participated, the march was part of the healing process. For others….it ‘… felt like a valuable…exercise. As children, we never learnt of organised demonstrations/protesting as an option for us to show disapproval of any social problem…”  Showing disapproval is easy; finding solutions uncommon.

Take the age of consent, currently 16. Sparrow was spot on when he pronounced age to be just a number.  All any patient pervert needs do is wait until the child is 16 years and a day (and “consents”) before making his move.  The silliness of this legal numbers game is exposed by any 17yo girl who can “consent” to sex but can’t vote or enter into any other adult transaction.

We’re obsessed with rules but blind to principle. We misguidedly focus on defining “rape” when Jamaica’s real problem is one of sexual abuse.  That monster has many faces, operates in a wide spectrum and knows no number, gender or orifice. It simply is.

A 64 year old Pastor buys groceries for a 19 year old’s mother and, in exchange, is given free rein with the young lady (who is more than willing to co-operate).  In my opinion, Pastor sexually abuses that 19 year old. His status as God’s messenger and superior financial and educational resources puts him in a special relationship with the family which makes undue use of his influence sexual abuse (no need to prove “penetration” or “age”).

Jamaica needs to stop flattering about in a centuries old, colonial-based dogma-driven box where we obsess about proving ugly and embarrassing details in order to enforce gender-biased laws of “rape”. We must get to the root of our indigenous problem whereby Jamaican men consider it a proud achievement to “play with” a fifteen year old girl and believe sex with a virgin cures venereal disease. If we study our cultural perversions dispassionately, we’ll discover there’s only one true offence, sexual abuse, and begin developing a Jamaican jurisprudence where any situation involving force, unequal power, status or influence to coerce sexual gifts creates the offence.

True story: A six month old baby boy whose mother was imprisoned is placed with a family that includes a mentally deranged male who “rapes” the little boy to get “the cure”. The baby, damaged beyond repair, is belatedly turned over to the police and medical personnel. Who among you needs a legal definition of “rape” or proof of the orifice used or gender to make a finding of sexual abuse in this case?

Michael Abrahams, a talented satirist and insightful columnist, wrote (Gleaner; June 27, 2016; Child abuse can cause cancer):

According to local data from the [2008] National Reproductive Health Survey, 34 per cent of adolescent girls in Jamaica reported [to the survey]their first sexual encounter was coerced.”

A 1998 USA study conducted by Dean Kilpatrick PhD found “Rape is the most underreported crime in America”. Between 67-84% of rapes of women over 18 go unreported (13% reported). In another column, Michael Abrahams reported he once saw four adult female patients in office and three complained of sexual abuse as children.

Get this: we have an all-embracing child sex abuse problem that’s destructive of the nation’s soul.  These young people carry their post-traumatic stress disorders into their own parenting to produce more dysfunctional families.  We must disrupt this evil cycle NOW. Lisa Hanna has been bravely speaking out on what clearly needs treating as a national emergency but colleagues appear to yawn and drift off to sleep. Proving how deep the rot has set in, she received a flood of abuse for her efforts including being advised to perform any number of unnatural sex acts on her mother.

While lawmakers fiddle, Jamaica burns in a conflagration of sexual abuse. It’s time to stop the semantic squabbling and devise a Jamaican solution to this very Jamaican problem.  Get our lazy University-bound academics off their rear-ends and commission a scientific study of the root causes of sexual violence. We must answer some fundamental questions without reference to religious dogma:

Why’re males the rapists and females (usually) the victims?

Why is rape a horrendous experience for the victim?

Why does the mental trauma vary with the types of sex acts?

Why do young males rape more often than older males?

Why are rape victims more often young women than older women or pre-pubescent girls?

Why is rape more frequent in some situations, such as war, than others?

Why are people (especially husbands) often suspicious of an individual’s claim to have been raped?

Why have attempts to reform rape laws achieved only limited success?

Until we make serious, scientific efforts to answer as many of these “whys” as possible, we could take the Inner City Express; march and shake tambourines to our hearts’ content; or name and shame whoever we want; we won’t locate a sexual violence antidote.  Currently, our knee-jerk, ad hoc, slavishly plagiaristic legal prescriptions, based on visceral feelings of revenge, haven’t made a dent in incidents of sexual violence.

We need to trace man’s evolution, using Darwinian theories of natural selection, and discover what evolutionary adaptations resulted in violent attitudes and why they seem far more prevalent in males. I’m not saying we evolved naturally to rape women but I am saying evolution happens for a “good” purpose but changing environments can render results “bad”. “Good” and “bad” are used as evolutionary NOT moral adjectives.

A tree evolves so its seeds ensure reproduction. Along comes man who constructs a concrete sidewalk.  The tree’s seeds, perfectly designed adaptations created by Darwinian natural selection over generations for a “good” purpose, fall onto man’s sidewalk and have no chance of surviving or reproducing in that environment.

When we scientifically pinpoint rape’s proximate cause (usually psychological or sociological) and ultimate cause (natural selection), we’ll be better informed and can develop the required medical/therapeutic procedures to treat the problem and a unique jurisprudence to deal with offenders.  I believe the problem’s ultimate root is evolutionary.  But, what are the peculiar evolutionary adjustments causing Jamaican men to take such a warped approach to sex? Is it related to our African ancestry? Or our British environment?

Eventually, Jamaica’s jurisprudence should include only one sex crime (“sexual abuse”). Parliament should permit Judges to decide which anti-social actions fall under the “sexual abuse” umbrella and provide a pot-pourri of sentencing options (to be applied depending on the severity or savagery of the offence) including chemical castration; a sex offenders’ registry; and restitution. Clinics should routinely offer legal abortions to rape victims. No point ranting and raving against the demon.  Let’s understand and counter-act its origins.

Will we begin? Or do we prefer dancing with tambourines and spitting in the wind?

Peace and Love


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  1. petchary Says:

    I agree with every word.

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