It’s concerning how pedophilia is normalized. It’s so ingrained into the Jamaican culture to the point where people either don’t realize it or they just don’t care to identify it as an issue. During my early years of high school, some of my schoolmates had something called ‘a taxi man’. This so-called taxi man would treat the girl (for example; buy her gifts or meals) and attempt to build a close relationship with the girl. Umm. Okay? I thought it was creepy from the get-go, and at first, I scoffed at my female colleagues. Don’t they feel ashamed of themselves? But realized that I was pinning the blame on the wrong person.
One thing that is experienced or understood throughout Caribbean girlhood and womanhood is how we are vulnerable. Vulnerable as in most likely to be preyed on or targeted. So we were trained to build habits and a system to protect ourselves. Don’t get in cars with strange men. Don’t walk alone on the street when it’s late. Don’t walk on that side of the road where those group of boys is. If they call out to you, it’s best to smile and reply. Some might get mad if you ignore them. It is tiresome; having to take such precautions as a woman.
And some of the men in our society don’t make it any easier. Specifically, ‘the dutty man”. I’ll like to think of the dutty man as equivalent to the boogeyman. He’s slimy and creepy. He preys on children. Your mother warns you about him. Yeah. But he also blends in so well. He could be your teacher. He could be your taxi driver (very common disguise), he could be anywhere in fact. He will offer to buy you KFC and offer you rides to school. And you might think, “Hey, this guy seems nice. He’s looking out for me” and then it gets ugly.
I think one of the issues with grooming and pedophilia in Jamaica is that it isn’t recognized for what it is. Even when the statistics scream it at us. It has gotten so bad, that in our society, it is culturally accepted as a norm for older men to have relationships with younger females. It haffi stap. The next time you see a pregnant girl down the road, don’t jump to the thought: “She force-ripe!” or “Likkle girl love run down big man” but take time to consider the social situations for some of them. They probably live in an environment where there are no positive parental figures and sometimes they are unfortunately preyed on.
I can only pray that more actions will be taken to protect our children. Parents and guardians alike should take more measures as well. Let us all do our part to stop normalizing this. Imma end this post with this banger because it basically sums up everything! Peace!