Queen Ifrica has empathized with survivors of sexual violence who have come forward to tell their stories, as for her it hits hard, having experienced horrific molestation and sexual abuse herself.
The Fyah Mumma who has long been one of Jamaica’s most outspoken and strident voices against rape, child sexual abuse and other acts of debauchery, described Jamaica as a country where predators carry out their dastardly acts on unsuspecting victims with impunity.
“We live in a predator’s paradise Anthony, where it’s OK to rape and to live a full life after and to be lauded,” the Lioness on the Rise artiste told Television Jamaica’s Anthony Miller.
“Big up yuhself Tanya Stephens anyweh yuh deh mi girl. Mi feel yuh energy and wi share it as well. There are so many of us in this island who carry really dark stories of predators who get away with everything,” she said.
Hinting that she could speak about her own abuse sometime in the future, Ifrica said ordeals like her compatriot Tanya Stephen experienced are only a drop in the bucket of acts of depravity meted out to women in Jamaica.
“I have been molested many times in my life, from as early as I can remember and by very close people to me as well,” she revealed.
The Montego Bay native explained to Miller that sexual violence has a long-standing and highly deleterious effect on the psyche of victims, many of whom have thoughts of suicide.
“I could use suicidal as an experience of what it does to you. It brings you to the lowest level you could find yourself. And if you are not able to come back from that lowness, you stay there for the rest of your life,” she said.
Tanya Stephens last week listed accusations of lying, public victim blaming and shaming laid against victims of rape who come public, as the fundamental reasons she will never reveal the name of the Reggae artist who sexually assaulted her some 30 years ago.
Ifrica agreed wholeheartedly with the points raised by Tanya, and pointed out that the way victims of abuse are often vilified, keeps many from coming forward to share their experiences or bring the perpetrators to justice.
“Being a victim myself of rape and molestation, mi waan talk fi di victims. Saying this is the reason people who are raped and abused and molested don’t talk about it. Because there is a society that rape them all over again, out them through the turmoil all over again,” she said.
Though she did not refer to persons by names, Ifrica alluded to the recent case of General Ling, who has identified herself as the person at the epicenter of the rape allegations against Reggae artist Richie Stephens.
“In the case of the lady that mentioned the name, we saw the artiste come out and we see the artiste saying that, you know, some a it a true and some a nuh true. Wi can’t talk fi di artiste either,” she said.
“This lady was crying and anyone that was watching it could see that something happened there. People lie Anthony. I know people who have told wicked lies on men and that is why I’ve always said that I personally defend men good men – men who would never ever think of – in this industry too,” she said.
“I don’t hear enough people reaching out to these women and giving them the type of comfort that they really need right now. When I look in some a di comments, I mostly see people talking about whether or not Tanya ‘took too long to say it’, or in the case of the lady ‘it look like she and him had something’… In the case of Tanya, whomever she is talking, and in the case of the lady that mentioned a name, I can’t tell them that dem telling a lie.”
The Yad to The East artist offered some emotional support and coping suggestions for women who come forward to state their ordeal, noting that if they plan to come public, they should psychologically brace themselves for a backlash.
“And so I woulda just love fi concentrate until every victim can be strong enough fi demself – if you know yuh nuh strong enough can handle the backlash when you call a name, work pon yuhself first. Work pon strengthening yuh inner reserve. Work pon how yuh a guh manage if yuh tell somebody and dem tell yuh seh a lie yuh a tell,” she said.
“Yuh deh deh and a see wha a happen every day, as Tanya seh, when shi teck di big old long shower dem and di suppm still naw come outta har head. Love yuhself first through it too. Loving yuhself and accepting seh ‘this thing happen to me, but a nuh me dis’”.
She also said victims should never, ever blame themselves or condemn themselves as the only person who should accept full blame, is the perpetrator.
“I am not what happened to mi. suh yuh know she from yuh start have dah perception den towards yuhself, den yuh a guh start show pon yuh outside as well. People a guh start si yuh clarity. Don’t rape yuhself ova. Don’t beat yourself ; don’t kill yourself; don’t cut your throat because somebody rape you. Their time will come. Caw mi nuh ready fi talk bout mine. Mi have one to. Probably darker dan fi Tanya dem,” she said.
Like Ifrica and Tanya, similar concerns about the attitudes of many people towards rape victims were expressed in August 2019 by Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte, a former sexual offences prosecutor and judge.
The Attorney General had said people have a tendency to first believe and then disbelieve rape reports, as “doubt creeps in once attempts are made to take the matter to court”, with people wondering whether “the woman had brought it on herself’.
At the time she had said that the Government had gone beyond the tabling of the Sexual Harassment Bill, as even before the atrocities get to “the physical attack, there is often the verbal, the psychological, the emotional attack”.