We Are the Mothers

By Betty Ann Blaine
The Jamaica Observer
July 11, 2006

Dear Reader,

Even before I was asked to view the video footage of the 14-year-old girl who was gang-raped recently for my comments on the incident, I already felt an overwhelming sense of sadness and despair, and I didn't even know if viewing the tape was the best thing to do.(By the way, I am urging the media to treat matters like these in a very sensitive and caring manner, in the interest of the young victims and their families.)

On my way to the location, I received two telephone calls, one of them from a complete stranger. The lady said that she and her co-workers had been discussing the case all day, having seen the broadcast on television the night before. In the middle of the conversation with me she started weeping, confessing that she had been unable to sleep the night before, and felt, along with the other women on her job, that they couldn't absorb any more of the pain and heartache. She wanted to know what we were going to do about the abominable situation facing our children.

No sooner than she hung up, another telephone call came in from a friend I hadn't heard from in a long time. She was distraught, but ready for action. She too expressed the fact that she was no longer able to withstand the day-to-day atrocities against the children of our country, and felt that we have definitely reached the tipping point. I allowed my own tears to flow freely throughout both conversations, because I knew that I too needed the release and the healing.

I sat nervously on the edge of the chair as the technician prepared to play the tape because I knew that it was going to be very emotional. It was. After a few minutes, I asked for it to be stopped. I just couldn't watch any more. In all my life of seeing movies and hearing of the worst cases of sexual abuse, I had never experienced anything so heart-wrenching. I walked out of the building, numbed and in a daze. I began to pray and the tears flowed inside and out.

My fellow Jamaicans, I am a mother, and I am completely heart-broken. As the teenager begged for mercy from her attackers, I wished I had the power to put my hand through the television screen and pull her to safety. I wished I had the power to have saved her from the terrible ordeal.

The question is, what is this evil force that is driving our teenage boys, from all social classes, to violate their own peers so brutally? What kind of young men are we cultivating who would sexually assault one of their own schoolmates, even while she begged for mercy, and then proceed to videotape the assault? What is causing our teenage boys to be so cold and callous, and what exactly is driving the sexual frenzy that we are seeing?Undoubtedly, there are many factors that lead to sexual deviancy and sexually violent behaviour, but among the leading ones has to be the influence of the media, especially the exposure our children are getting to what I call "the dark side" of cable television. If I had my way, not one bit of that filth would be brought into this country. Quite frankly, it is not only the children who must be protected right now, it is also the parents. If adults are incapable of making the right choices, then clearly, somebody has to make it for them. At all costs, our children must be taken out of harm's way.

I am told that there is a thriving market for sex and hard porn, and that adults are paying good money for sexually violent tapes like the one filmed by the two teenage boys. Obviously, the church deacon who facilitated the attack was a key player in this growing sex market. I'm also told that the more violent the act, the bigger the money, and it is obvious now, that the younger the victims, the more thrills grown men are experiencing.

Only recently a friend brought a tape for me to see, containing footage from a dance held here in Kingston. I have been trying to pluck up the courage to watch it based on the forewarnings of emotional harm. I imagine that it is one of those tapes that like powerful medicine should carry the label, "Eat well before viewing". I'm told that on it, a mentally ill woman was made to strip naked while the crowd cheered.

There is absolutely no doubt that Jamaica is experiencing a period of moral decadence of unparalleled proportions. What I find especially tragic is that the state which has the power to censor, monitor and regulate much of what is taking place, seems impotent in its response. The cumulative effect of the murders, the lawlessness on our streets, and the absolute "free for all" accompanying the dances, the music and the general porn in the media, are turning our children into sexual predators and sex objects, and reducing all of us to a state of moral degradation.

But what about us the mothers, what can we do? And are we willing to take a stand? Did we bear the rigours of pregnancy and the pain of childbirth to have our children destroyed in this manner? Can't we say, "Enough is enough", and find tangible ways to rescue our little ones from the ravages of the sexual influences and from sexual predators? Are our tears enough, or will we have to stand and fight?

And what about our men and our fathers? Why aren't you protecting us the women and children from the onslaught? Why are you allowing your daughters to be ravaged by evil men, and when do you say, "No more"?

With love,


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.