Stop blaming the victim


December 20, 2016
This woman was moved to tears after seeing the body of her neighbour, Kerry-Ann Wilson, at the Crystal Towers apartment complex in St Andrew.

Over the past two weeks, Jamaica has seen reports of about 12 horrific killings of women at the alleged hands of their partners/ex partners.

One woman, Kerry-Ann Wilson, was allegedly beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend then wrapped in tarpaulin in a failed attempt to dump her body. She was four months pregnant. This case was specifically horrendous to me because a very close friend of mine has been intimately affected by it, and so I have been exposed to great details about the deceased and her killer.

Understandably, the incidents were reported on the front page of the major publications and between the questions of 'What did these women do to spark such anger in their men?' to 'Why did the men just leave them instead of killing them?'

I really have to look at a more fundamental issue: Why are we trying to find a way to blame the victim?

Why are we not focusing on what is it about the way men view women and how boys are raised, to find out why so many of them are taking lives? According to the Centre for Children and Families in the Justice System in the US, there are certain characteristics that abusive men possess, including control, entitlement, selfishness, superiority, among others.


If we examine the way young boys are socialised, we will see evidence that our culture of hyper-masculinity has raised them to be emotionally deficient men who are simply ill-equipped to express any other emotion except anger.

Looking at some of the comments made by men after reading about these incidents, I see expressions of empathy, even support towards the perpetrators of these acts; and I also see a lot of blame being dished on the victims because these women know that "men can't tek bun".

As a society, we continue to give men a pass and justify why they are "naturally going to be unfaithful" and why, when they are on the receiving end of infidelity, it's somehow worse because "women don't just have sex, they get emotionally involved".

From dancehall to the Bible, we have somehow decided that women are to be 'submissive', accepting and supportive of the unsavory behaviour of men while making sure that we are always faithful to them, sometimes to our fatal demise.

With investigations still ongoing, it's not possible, at this point, to confirm all the circumstances that led to the killings of these young women. What is clear, however, is that our society is still not ready to deal with violence against women in a way that stop these incidents from reoccurring.

Much of the blame continues to be directed to the victims as many persons wonder why these women didn't act differently to save their lives.

Some spend much of their time reminiscing about a time in our past when men were men, women knew their place - uneducated, pregnant in the kitchen - and she never questions his authority, because the Bible says the man is the head of the house, so his word is final.

Unfortunately, even back then, women were still subject to much abuse and violence. She had to 'bear her cross', because she had nowhere to go and even if she did, leaving her man was not an option, no matter how abusive he got.


Fast forward to modern life where, thanks to some consistent advocacy and enlightenment, women don't have to stay in abusive relationships, there is more support available and there is some recourse since the law has being amended to include domestic violence legislation.

I am happy to report that about a week ago, the Senate approved a joint select committee to review laws relating to violence against women, children, the elderly, and people living with disabilities. While this move is a great first step towards addressing a part of the problem, there is still much progress to be made in addressing violence against women in our society.

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