Women Rise Up Against Gender Violence in the Caribbean

Podur, Justin; Cummings, Joan Joy Grant

Publisher:  Socialist Project
Date Written:  23/03/2017
Year Published:  2017  
Resource Type:  Article
Cx Number:  CX20536

Podur interviews Joan Joy Grant Cummings, a women's right activist, regarding the severity of sexual violence towards women and girls in Jamaica.



JP: Tell us more about the movement itself, the problems it is dealing with, and the demands it has brought forward.

JJGC: Tambourine Army wants to talk about sexual violence more clearly than it is being talked about. We have people talking about "sex with a minor" -- there's no "sex with a minor," you're talking about rape. Jamaica has one of the earliest, what UNICEF calls "sexual initiation rates," as early as 8 years old, girls are being raped. It's a very premeditated act, because usually the abuse will stop just before they turn 16. In cases where the girl has become pregnant before 16, there have been femicides that have occurred. In 2014-15, we saw many cases where girls were being murdered because they had been sexually assaulted, got pregnant, and were then murdered. We had gone through in a three month period in 2014 when 25 young women were murdered. And in many cases they were pregnant.

The Tambourine Army is a new organizing force and a lot of young women are involved. One of the tensions is women who have been in the movement a long time compared to the kinds of strategies these young women have used. There's a tension in that sense, a few of us who understand that maybe we don't think these methods are best. But we understand the point that society needs a jolt about what sexual violence is actually doing, and what it's costing us.

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