Contending that Jamaicans should take the focus off of her own trauma, Tanya Stephens has again decried what she deemed Jamaica’s “Rape Culture” and concomitant “Code of Silence” especially when it comes on to rapes of little girls, echoing the sentiments of numerous State and civil agencies, that sexual abuse is rampant in the country.
A 2016 document on adolescent sexual and reproductive health issues in Jamaica, presented data which revealed that “almost half of all sexually active females in Jamaica between the ages of 15 and 24 years old were forced into their first sexual encounter”.
More recent statistics have shown that most of the rape cases involving children have seen a sharp increase in the number of children between ages two to 10 and 10 years old being sexually assaulted.
Excerpts of the data which was presented by the Jamaica Family Planning Association and the Jamaica AIDS Support for Life and the Caribbean Vulnerable Communities also noted that “in 2015, 33 percent of those between the ages of 15 and 24 years old in Jamaica reported having sex before 15” even though the age of consent is 16.
The report noted that boys were also seriously impacted, with 16 per cent of adolescent boys between 10 and 15 years old, saying they did not consent to their first sexual encounter.
The results were also carried in a Gleaner article titled FORCED RIPE! – Scores of Jamaica’s children are being pushed into their first sexual encounters, and which quoted civil-society advocate Carol Narcisse arguing that “too many adults are having their way with Jamaica’s children”.
On Friday evening, shortly before nightfall, Stephens took to Instagram Live to point out that Jamaica needs a “reality check”.
In expounding on her stance regarding Jamaica’s “rape culture” the Rebelution singer said, among other things, that the dialogue, narrative and the environment needs to be fixed.
“Help the environment and I benefit, change your words,” she said addressing Jamaicans who have been sending her supposed words of support.
The St. Mary native said that the assault that was exacted on her by a top Reggae artist 30 years ago, was only a microcosm of what she described as a cesspool of predatory behavior taking place across the country, which was where everyone’s focus should be.
“It has no bearing on fixing the problem because the problem is bigger than a one man. We have culture; we don’t have a predator; we have a predatory culture,” Stephens stated.
“So what we need is change is the conversations; we need to change the narrative, so that it becomes less accommodated. When it becomes less accommodated – when a predator feel like him have consequence, when him feel like nobaddy naw guh put up wid him fuckery, den it wi stop,” she added.
She also had some terse words for people who have been telling her they would support her in her quest for the prevention of sexual abuse of children, but that their support would be conditional.
“And oonu naw guh like mi, caw mi naw pet and pamper oonu.
“Becaw it a gwaan roun oonu an oonu know and are accommodating of it. And this is why it keeps happening,” she said.
“Because instead a oonu try fi guh fix di problem, oonu a try fix mi dialogue. Oonu a try fix mi vocabulary. Oonu a try fix mi emotions. And oonu a tell mi seh in order fi me be taken seriously, in order fi oonu actually join me and come fix it, me need fi first dress up di way how me approach oonu? Guh suck oonu mumma and bloodclaat guh weh. Oonu nuh help mi den. If mi fi form mi own army inna dis, nm iwi dweet. But nuh come unda di guise she you want help me but me haffi first conform to you. You a who?” she said as she hissed her teeth.
Contending that many Jamaicans were living in a “tight little bubble of ignorance”, she reiterated her warning that there is a lot of reckoning to do in Jamaica, as no child is insulated from predators.
“Mi seh fix oonu place. Caw you ova yah suh feel like seh yuh safe; yuh feel like your daughter safe. Your daughter nuh safe enuh bredda,” she said.
“Dem predator yah dem nuh respect geography enuh. dem nuh respect economy neither. Dem rape anything. And oonu a create some opportunist rapists wid oonu speech…,” she said adding that much of the abuse is embedded in some boys by trifling mothers who tell their sons that they “can violate girls as they like”.
In pointing how ingrained in the psyche of the nation the rape culture was, the It’s a Pity singer pointed to messages being subliminally and even overtly sent in music as evidence, which, as she pointed out, continues to be deemed acceptable as it was the way of thinking of many Jamaicans .
“One night mi deh a Asylum (nightclub) enuh and di DJ put on Beenie chune Battery Dolly – mi love Beenie to death enuh and him know dis,” Tanya said.
“But yuh si when dem put on Battery Dolly – ‘six man back har dung last week Saturday, caw shi a battery dolly’. Das why dem back har dung? Cause she a battery dolly? Not because dem a rapist? Watch oonu language. Watch oonu language!’ she warned.
On Monday morning a day after she shared a plethora of screenshots from rape victims who had been messaging her, Stephens reiterated her call for people to not try and help her, but to channel their energies to help poor Jamaican girls who are being molested, and corrective behaviours for the country’s men.
“This is one of 2 objectives. Both equally important…healing, and the end of rape culture. Don’t try to fix me. Fix rape culture,” she noted.
She re-emphasized a well that she refrains from calling her abuser’s name as she was thoughtful about his family members, who had only treated her with kindness.
“Everytime I thought about my rapist head back lick out i thought about his mother who would be in pain. His sister who had ONLY been nice to me. A years me compartmentalize. Sporadic therapy grabbed when I could find time outside of Jamaica because I don’t trust ANYONE here. Fix oonu bumboclaat man dem,” she said.
In June this year, the Gleaner published an article titled Jamaica Forced to Face a real problem, which noted that, “the very real problem of a culture of silence and almost acceptance” has seen the continued rise of sex crimes against Jamaica’s children.
“The number of children being sexually abused dwarfs our murder rate and the number of girls being impregnated from rapes and carnal abuse threatens to do the same when compared to our road fatalities statistic,” the article noted.
Days before, the Gleaner had also noted in another report that there were “hundreds of minors impregnated from rapes, carnal abuse since 2020”, with what it described as a ‘staggering 249 girls” being impregnated from rapes, carnal abuse and other sex crimes between January 2020 and March of this year.
Over the period, 3,265 children sexually were sexually abused over the period, with hundreds believed to have contracted sexually transmitted infections in the process.
The Child Protection and Family Services Agency (CPFSA) had assessed that the numbers could be greater as a 26 per cent dip in reported cases compared to 2019 could be the result of COVID-19 stripping children of having access to their teachers, who were a common reporting outlet, according to The Gleaner.
“Quite a bit of sexual abuse that we encounter clinically has to do with filial abuse – brothers and sisters, near relatives; and familial abuse, meaning fathers and stepfathers and girls or boys; or mothers and female relatives and boy children,” Dr Karen Carpenter, director of the Sexology Clinic and head of the Institute for Gender Development Studies at The University of the West Indies (UWI) had told the newspaper.