Jamaican women, take matters in your own hands!
February 13, 2008
So, yet another one of these “man kill woman because she dey wid anodder man” stories. Didn’t Trinidad have a wave of this madness a couple years ago? Seems like this is becoming a bit of a fad among Jamaican men who clearly think that women are their property to dispose of as they wish.
And I hope that the man’s friend and partner-in-crime is charged with conspiracy to murder. He deliberately spied on her, knew what his friend was going to do, and participated in it. Women of Mount Zion, which so happens to be my family is from, should turn on that man and make an example of him. Men who kill and hurt women, and those who are accomplices should be made to pay. Yes, when it comes to defending women and children, I do support some kinds of “vigilante justice”.
Jamaican women and children are constantly being victimized by violence, and yet this is never mentioned in all the handwringing, 10-point plans, and “debates” about crime in the society. Rather than waiting for the government to recognize and to rescue us, women need to be creative and take matters into their own hands. I certainly don’t like the idea of waiting to die. That’s just not cool. We need to refuse to allow ourselves to become victims or corpses so that individual men can live to crow about, and that can be swept 6 feet under by the powers that be.
So, here’s some completely unsolicited, action-oriented and unconventional advice to Jamaican women who live in these dangerous situations:
1. Take it seriously when he says he will kill you. He will. Jamaican society is pretty accommodating to men hurting women; I would even say it is socially acceptable to do so. And more people will silently accept your death than publicly condemn him. Don’t go out without a fight.
2. Take yourself seriously. Learn how to defend yourself. Create exit plans of all sorts e.g. remove all your important papers out of the house; know where you running to when you leave the house.
3. Let your family and friends know what is going on; make it clear that you are determined to be free of this terror, and insist that they support you until its over.
4. Mobilize all your friends – women and men – those in high places and those in low places. Make sure they all know what he has said, done and plans to do. Make it clear to them that you expect them to defend and support you through this. Some men, just like that the one in the article, will support him beating and stalking you. Look them in the eye and ask them how they could look at you, call you friend, and think its ok for another man to kill you. Make them take a stand, with you, on this issue. Have them talk to him, and if necessary, teach him a lesson, individually and collectively. You shouldn’t care how they do it, although they probably shouldn’t kill him. You don’t want yourself or your friends to go to jail for this type of person. He will have won. Just make sure that the message is clear: he is to leave you, and all other women, the hell alone – forever.
5. Document the threats and violence. Write a detailed letter, including pictures, of all that he has done and said to you. Mail copies of it to the Prime Minister, the Commissioner of Police, the domestic violence unit of the police, your pastor, your family, his family, friends etc. Make it very public. He grows more powerful when you hide and protect him from scrutiny.
6. If you see any weapons in the house – gun, bullets, knives, etc. – take them and turn them into the police with a copy of your letter. If you’re not sure, take a picture and then hide them someplace very far from your house.
7. If you don’t think that you can be the first one to put your hands on and use the kitchen knife, scissors, razor blades, machete, etc., get them out of your house. Men who brutalize women are cowards, and often rely on weapons to help them. You can gain more leverage in hand-to-hand combat.
8. And of course, learn how to protect and defend yourself. Yes, a razor blade deftly applied to the right part of his neck can give you just enough time to get away from him and flee, nightie or no nightie. But, you might not have time to do that. So here are some self-defense tactics to know:
a. Outsmart him: i. Watch which side he uses and stay to that side of him; if he uses his right hand, then circle towards his right. He will have to work harder to get at you.
ii. If he grabs your wrist, pull your wrist back so your hand is in a waving position (palm facing forward) and twist it toward yourself and pull your arm away. It is not easy to hold onto wrist bones that are moving in that way. Chances are, he will stumble towards you. Use that to your advantage and knuckle him in the forehead, nose, or teeth.
iii. Either grab on tightly to him (and give him a bitch bite and a knee in him crotches while you at it!) so he can’t swing out, or stay far away so he will have to run to catch you. Either way, you have opportunity to strike back.
b. Protect yourself:
Use your hands to protect your face and your head. And keep your jaws clenched; this is no time to cuss badwo’d or tell him bout him rass. If you survive this, you can let loose later.
c. Mek ‘im feel it:
- Pinch ‘im! If you are grabbed around the waist from behind, pinch him either under the arm between the elbow and armpit or in the upper inner thigh – HARD. He is not likely to forget this for a long time.
- Kick ‘im! Use the bottom of your foot – not your toes! – to kick him in the knee, groin/crotch or lower abdomen. Kick straight ahead as if you were kicking in a door. Or kick straight back like a mule using your heel. You can also knee him in the testicles/groin, elbow him in the face, throat and neck, and stab him in the eyes with your fingers.
- Bruk im finger dem! When he puts his hands up to you, grab his first two fingers and bend them back as far as possible with as much pressure pushing down on them as possible. This will may very well bring him to his knees. Kick him in the face while he’s down. And then douse ‘im wid di chimmey of stale piss that you have been saving just for this occasion.
9. Work [quickly!] to get over your feelings of pride or shame; you want to live to tell the tale of how you survived. Nobody can do that except you. And trust me, you are strong enough to survive.
Some advice to men and women who witness these situations:
- Intervene every time you see something happening, whether or not she asks you to. It is never ok to be a silent witness. If and when he kills her, you were party to it if you did nothing to try to stop it. I hope you can live with that.
- Insist that the man stop brutalizing her. Demand, in whatever way that you can, that he should leave, walk away, and not look back.
- Talk through strategies with her, and encourage her to have an exit plan. Help her make a plan.
- Educate yourself. If you find that you are more likely to justify the beating and maltreatment of women – STOP! Think about what you are saying. Consider the effects of your ideas on the people around you. Seriously. What does this attitude say about you? Your regard for humanity?
- Talk to your friends and coworkers about violence against women. Denounce it at every opportunity and offer yourself as a source of support and compassion.
- Make it part of your duty to promote non-violent ways to resolve conflicts. Walk the talk: refrain from verbal and emotional abuse of the people around you.
- Work with organizations, community groups, churches, even in your own family to educate and bring awareness to violence against women and children.
- If you are not part of the solution, then yes, you are very complicit in keeping the problem alive.
Places that [should] have more information:
WOMEN’S RESOURCE & OUTREACH CENTRE – 47 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5; 876-929-8873
WOMEN’S CRISIS CENTRE – 53 St. James Street, Montego Bay; 876-952-9533-4
WOMEN’S CENTRE – 42 Trafalgar Road, Kingston 10, Jamaica. Ph: 876-929-7608; 876-929-0977
If you can’t find what you are looking for, get a group of folks together and create it yourself! There can’t be enough awareness or collective action around these issues!