Jamaica has become used to having one of the highest murder rates in the world. So it takes the sort of murders we have had in the past few weeks – men killing women who wanted out of a relationship, followed by their own self murder; and the stabbing to death of an Anglican priest – to create any interest in those of us who must spend part of each and every day, praying both for our own survival and that of our nearest and dearest.
Murder-suicides have become common enough that the “explanation” for it is no longer questioned. Many Jamaican men feel they have a right to control women (and for these men it is always women – not woman) whether those women are wives, girlfriends, passing objects of lust etc. When a woman who they “control” wants to get on with her life without him, a few men respond by killing her and then killing themselves.
When this happens the particular gory details are discussed for a day or two, a thought is given to the motherless children, and the general consensus is that this is just the way of the world. It is fate, albeit a peculiarly female fate….
Then,two weeks ago, Father Richard Johnson of St. Jude’s Anglican Church was found stabbed to death in his home. There was shock and outrage and mourning, even amongst those who did not know the priest. Then the police revealed that the killer was known to them and that he had turned himself in. The killer, a man in his early 20’s known as Bomber, told the police that Father Johnson “attacked him” and he killed him in self-defence – the 45 year old priest was stabbed more than 25 times….Father Johnson was nude at the time of his death and allegedly attacked the young man whom he had “conned” into removing his trousers (to try on a new pair).
Naturally there is no suggestion that Father Johnson was armed or that his attack constituted anything more than a crude, inappropriate and overly aggressive sexual advance, of the type most Jamaican women have experienced from Jamaican men.
But once it was suggested that Father Johnson had made a sexual advance to another man, public opinion immediately turned against the murdered priest. Homophobia kicked in, and not only was the killer released immediately on bail, but he has already been tried and exonerated in the court of public opinion.
Pity us Jamaicans, male and female, who need to believe that God has given permission for at least this one type of murder (killing of men that lie with other men) and therefore this is one time we need not sorrow.
Pity the Jamaican women who are in relationships with violent men and have Dr. Orville Taylor exhorting them to stop complaining about violence against women as Jamaican men are only killing Jamaican women at one tenth of the rate that they kill other Jamaican men.
Unfortunately, it is clear to some of us that this road leads nowhere good.
Since Leviticus also says that “thou shalt not suffer a witch to live”, should this be the new excuse for men that want to kill women, but don’t necessarily want to kill themselves afterwards ?
Should young women confronted with unwanted sexual advances from men twice their age start walking with guns in their handbags ? So they can kill the man if he grabs them ?
Every so often it seems that we have reached a new level of cruelty, hatred and insensitivity to life, as a people and as a society. But then we take it higher…..
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