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Conversation with Montserrat: Part 3

Shirley Osborne

Shirley Osborne

By Shirley Osborne

Oh! Miss Mon! I get myself caught up in a little thing here; I have to tell you about it.

You know how sometimes you start a conversation about something, and then somebody says something and somebody else says something else and then all of a sudden you are talking about something different altogether and the whole thing, everything, changes? Well that is kind of what’s been going on with me, Miss Emmie!

You remember the whole story about the elections and nasty politics and bad politicians, right? And you remember how I said that your daughters should be nicer to one another and that there should be women in the government? Well, I tell you! You should have heard some of the things that people said, Miss Mon. Most people were interested and concerned and really wish that the situation would improve, but some other people!!?? Oh!

Being a Montserratian woman myself, Miss Mon, being one of your daughters, not much of what was said was unfamiliar to me. Neither were the attitudes which evidenced themselves in some of the conversations. I was not at all surprised that one or two of the men who took part in the conversations, both online and in person, did their best to distance men in general from complicity or from responsibility – one even had the nerve to say, “Don’t blame the men.” Well, I tell you, Miss Mon, I just about blew a gasket when I read that!!

We were talking about statutory rape, and domestic abuse and the other forms of violence that are perpetrated against women and girls in Montserrat, and the fact that most of it, even the violation and exploitation of very young girls goes unpunished, even unremarked most of the time. One of your sons had the nerve to say that since there are so many women in the systems of authority and support, i.e. the police, the medical and justice systems, and in the homes, and they do nothing about it, then “Don’t blame the men.”

And you know what he did, Ma’am, when I asked him what he means by “don’t blame the men”? He told me, “Don’t get it twisted.”

Okay! So, I figure that he did not really mean that the men were exonerated because the women failed to hold them to account, but that sequence of words should never have even risen up in any chamber of his brain! The women would not have these things to worry about or to punish anybody for if the men didn’t do the bad deeds in the first place!

It made me wonder if that is, perhaps, some of the reasoning behind some of attitudes of people towards statutory rape. Could that kind of reasoning be why some people don’t really see that it is a big deal? Could that be the argument that some of these paedophiles make? That if the parents are not protecting their girl children, then you can’t blame the Lolita Complexed people for their wrong-doing?

But the other part of that, Ma’am, is that I actually heard some women say words to the effect that some of the little girls “playing woman” placing the blame on the victims of paedophilia, rather than on the perpetrators, and implying that these girl-children deserve what they get. Or that they want and seek the attention that they get.

Grown women blame thirteen and fifteen and seventeen year old girls for “seducing” thirty and forty and fifty and sixty-year old men! Which the girls might actually be doing, given that things have gone on like this for so long that the little girls grow up with the understanding that it is what they are supposed to do, and that it is an acceptable way of getting ahead. That’s what they see around them, so they accept it as normal! And some of their mothers do not teach them anything different.

I am aware, too, that still, even today when we “run things” – as that one daughter of yours informed me – women continue to be hostile to others and younger women almost as a matter of course. Some sociologists would say that it is remnants of the primordial struggle to mate.  Some historians might impute it to our legacy from centuries of enslavement.

All of this happens in wolf packs and among wild and savage beasts, Miss M! The dominant males, the ones with the prestige and the status make it their business to mate with the young females, and to ensure this, they evict young males from the pack. The older females continuously pull rank on the younger females and attack them sometimes to defend their  their positions as lead females – with access to the males that are further up the hierarchy.

March to end child sexual abuse - break the silence

March to end child sexual abuse – break the silence

And you know, Miss Mon, that as human beings go, it is not only among Montserratians that this happens. Even in the United States of America, which declares itself the most progressive nation in the world, by far, even here, when a girl or a woman gets raped, the onus is on her to prove that she did get raped, and not so much on the rapist to prove that he didn’t! Even in the US of A, women still say things like “She shouldn’t have dressed like that.” If you have ever sat in a courtroom and heard how the victims get revictimised it would bring you to tears. And let’s not talk about how the media often mistreats the victims, because the “media” are members of the society who mostly think and act like the society.

Some of the people who joined in on the conversation even used this argument  – it doesn’t happen only in Montserrat, as if that is supposed to make the fact that it does happen in Montserrat any easier to handle, or any more acceptable!!

You know that American actor who died in a car crash a couple of weeks ago? Did you hear about him, Miss Mon? Paul Walker? Well, did you also hear that he was forty years old and his live-in girlfriend was twenty-three, which is bad enough, but, he had been with her since she was sixteen, which means that he was thirty-three when he seduced this teenage girl. My guess is that he was guilty of statutory rape, because I don’t imagine he waited two years to have sex with her, and the age of consent in California where they both lived, is eighteen.

Clearly, her parents or guardians ignored that little detail that this man who was after their daughter was twice her age, and that was probably because he was rich and famous.

I know for a fact that the same thing has happened in Montserrat. Young girls have come to me, and to other women I know, wearing their MSS uniform, asking for support in figuring out how to keep themselves safe from some important Mr. Somebody Or Other. They came to us because their mothers or fathers were not keeping them safe. Their mothers or fathers  found it acceptable for Mr. Somebody Or Other to impose himself on their young daughter, because after all, these were important Misters Somebody Or Other.

I hear that this sort of thing still happens, and in some cases it is the same men who were doing it twenty years ago!!

And that is one of the things that are bothering me most here, M!

These things run so deep in the fabric of our little island. These dark, dirty deeds seem to live in our very foundations, and they infect everything in our house. Kind of like woodlice!  They are so pervasive that you can’t even begin to figure out where the nest really is. And, so, no matter what the original topic of conversation might be, the discussion is always going to come around to this horrible canker sore. Everybody feels the pain, everybody knows it is infected, but the treatment seems to be half-hearted at best, and therefore totally ineffective. And it seems that many people think it’s a waste of time to even try to do anything, because no support will be forthcoming from those from whom it is supposed to come forth!

One writer asked me what I was going to do about it. In my reply, I asked him what he had done, but I didn’t tell him that years ago, a group of women and I had begun to work on this very thing, and that we had sought the support and cooperation of the police and the judiciary, and the politicians, and the media, and that they had all said YES! YES! Of course. Some of them even came to one or two of our meetings. But, then, they failed to return emails, follow through on their promises or do what they said they were going to do.

The media people had nothing to work with, because we, the women trying to put the thing together, got nothing to work with! And so the project just died. Sometimes, I think it was deliberately sabotaged because the men know who they prefer to protect.

But there is hope, I suppose, Miss Mon. You know that we have, finally – and officially -joined the Caribbean and indeed, the global, push to end child abuse!

What you think, Miss Mon? Maybe women next time?

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Shirley Osborne

Shirley Osborne

By Shirley Osborne

Oh! Miss Mon! I get myself caught up in a little thing here; I have to tell you about it.

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You know how sometimes you start a conversation about something, and then somebody says something and somebody else says something else and then all of a sudden you are talking about something different altogether and the whole thing, everything, changes? Well that is kind of what’s been going on with me, Miss Emmie!

You remember the whole story about the elections and nasty politics and bad politicians, right? And you remember how I said that your daughters should be nicer to one another and that there should be women in the government? Well, I tell you! You should have heard some of the things that people said, Miss Mon. Most people were interested and concerned and really wish that the situation would improve, but some other people!!?? Oh!

Being a Montserratian woman myself, Miss Mon, being one of your daughters, not much of what was said was unfamiliar to me. Neither were the attitudes which evidenced themselves in some of the conversations. I was not at all surprised that one or two of the men who took part in the conversations, both online and in person, did their best to distance men in general from complicity or from responsibility – one even had the nerve to say, “Don’t blame the men.” Well, I tell you, Miss Mon, I just about blew a gasket when I read that!!

We were talking about statutory rape, and domestic abuse and the other forms of violence that are perpetrated against women and girls in Montserrat, and the fact that most of it, even the violation and exploitation of very young girls goes unpunished, even unremarked most of the time. One of your sons had the nerve to say that since there are so many women in the systems of authority and support, i.e. the police, the medical and justice systems, and in the homes, and they do nothing about it, then “Don’t blame the men.”

And you know what he did, Ma’am, when I asked him what he means by “don’t blame the men”? He told me, “Don’t get it twisted.”

Okay! So, I figure that he did not really mean that the men were exonerated because the women failed to hold them to account, but that sequence of words should never have even risen up in any chamber of his brain! The women would not have these things to worry about or to punish anybody for if the men didn’t do the bad deeds in the first place!

It made me wonder if that is, perhaps, some of the reasoning behind some of attitudes of people towards statutory rape. Could that kind of reasoning be why some people don’t really see that it is a big deal? Could that be the argument that some of these paedophiles make? That if the parents are not protecting their girl children, then you can’t blame the Lolita Complexed people for their wrong-doing?

But the other part of that, Ma’am, is that I actually heard some women say words to the effect that some of the little girls “playing woman” placing the blame on the victims of paedophilia, rather than on the perpetrators, and implying that these girl-children deserve what they get. Or that they want and seek the attention that they get.

Grown women blame thirteen and fifteen and seventeen year old girls for “seducing” thirty and forty and fifty and sixty-year old men! Which the girls might actually be doing, given that things have gone on like this for so long that the little girls grow up with the understanding that it is what they are supposed to do, and that it is an acceptable way of getting ahead. That’s what they see around them, so they accept it as normal! And some of their mothers do not teach them anything different.

I am aware, too, that still, even today when we “run things” – as that one daughter of yours informed me – women continue to be hostile to others and younger women almost as a matter of course. Some sociologists would say that it is remnants of the primordial struggle to mate.  Some historians might impute it to our legacy from centuries of enslavement.

All of this happens in wolf packs and among wild and savage beasts, Miss M! The dominant males, the ones with the prestige and the status make it their business to mate with the young females, and to ensure this, they evict young males from the pack. The older females continuously pull rank on the younger females and attack them sometimes to defend their  their positions as lead females – with access to the males that are further up the hierarchy.

March to end child sexual abuse - break the silence

March to end child sexual abuse – break the silence

And you know, Miss Mon, that as human beings go, it is not only among Montserratians that this happens. Even in the United States of America, which declares itself the most progressive nation in the world, by far, even here, when a girl or a woman gets raped, the onus is on her to prove that she did get raped, and not so much on the rapist to prove that he didn’t! Even in the US of A, women still say things like “She shouldn’t have dressed like that.” If you have ever sat in a courtroom and heard how the victims get revictimised it would bring you to tears. And let’s not talk about how the media often mistreats the victims, because the “media” are members of the society who mostly think and act like the society.

Some of the people who joined in on the conversation even used this argument  – it doesn’t happen only in Montserrat, as if that is supposed to make the fact that it does happen in Montserrat any easier to handle, or any more acceptable!!

You know that American actor who died in a car crash a couple of weeks ago? Did you hear about him, Miss Mon? Paul Walker? Well, did you also hear that he was forty years old and his live-in girlfriend was twenty-three, which is bad enough, but, he had been with her since she was sixteen, which means that he was thirty-three when he seduced this teenage girl. My guess is that he was guilty of statutory rape, because I don’t imagine he waited two years to have sex with her, and the age of consent in California where they both lived, is eighteen.

Clearly, her parents or guardians ignored that little detail that this man who was after their daughter was twice her age, and that was probably because he was rich and famous.

I know for a fact that the same thing has happened in Montserrat. Young girls have come to me, and to other women I know, wearing their MSS uniform, asking for support in figuring out how to keep themselves safe from some important Mr. Somebody Or Other. They came to us because their mothers or fathers were not keeping them safe. Their mothers or fathers  found it acceptable for Mr. Somebody Or Other to impose himself on their young daughter, because after all, these were important Misters Somebody Or Other.

I hear that this sort of thing still happens, and in some cases it is the same men who were doing it twenty years ago!!

And that is one of the things that are bothering me most here, M!

These things run so deep in the fabric of our little island. These dark, dirty deeds seem to live in our very foundations, and they infect everything in our house. Kind of like woodlice!  They are so pervasive that you can’t even begin to figure out where the nest really is. And, so, no matter what the original topic of conversation might be, the discussion is always going to come around to this horrible canker sore. Everybody feels the pain, everybody knows it is infected, but the treatment seems to be half-hearted at best, and therefore totally ineffective. And it seems that many people think it’s a waste of time to even try to do anything, because no support will be forthcoming from those from whom it is supposed to come forth!

One writer asked me what I was going to do about it. In my reply, I asked him what he had done, but I didn’t tell him that years ago, a group of women and I had begun to work on this very thing, and that we had sought the support and cooperation of the police and the judiciary, and the politicians, and the media, and that they had all said YES! YES! Of course. Some of them even came to one or two of our meetings. But, then, they failed to return emails, follow through on their promises or do what they said they were going to do.

The media people had nothing to work with, because we, the women trying to put the thing together, got nothing to work with! And so the project just died. Sometimes, I think it was deliberately sabotaged because the men know who they prefer to protect.

But there is hope, I suppose, Miss Mon. You know that we have, finally – and officially -joined the Caribbean and indeed, the global, push to end child abuse!

What you think, Miss Mon? Maybe women next time?