Sunday, March 8, 2020 will be celebrated as International Women’s Day under the theme: I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights.
Being a woman in Jamaica our lives are filled with constant fear, fear for yourself and other women in the country. We all know a story, whether our own, or of someone close to us, or one that we’ve heard on the news, of how violence has maimed or taken the life of one of our fellow women.
Living in jamaica, as a woman, has become one of the scariest things to do. Whether we are walking on the streets, where we are called at, harassed, groped, touched, taken away or whether we go home to partners who don’t respect us, who hurt us and believe they own us.
Being a woman in jamaica means that my body is not my own. It means that I must take what ever abuse is dished out at me, especially since speaking out might affect me more than who I am speaking out against.
This is hard to write and it has taken me a long time to put pen to paper. The thought of what we go through, simply because of who we are, is painful and brings tears to my eyes. I have my own stories, I have the stories of my friends, I have the stories of women around me and I have the stories that are shared on social media and in the news.
Why is it that when I google ‘woman’, ‘news’ and ‘jamaica’, all that pops up are stories of murder, abuse and kidnap. It feels like every day something happens where we are not valued, we aren’t protected, we aren’t loved.
I want to live in a place where I don’t have to be careful of what I wear, how I carry myself, where I go, who I choose as a partner, or of the things I say… because no matter how careful I am, it still happens. We know the problem is not the length of my pants or skirt, the height of my heels, the cut of my blouse, whether I choose a man of high regard, good education and a good home… or if I go home before the sun sets. It won’t stop the victimisation of women, because these are not the reasons why we are targeted, we are not the reasons why we are targeted, why we are killed, why we are abused.
On International Women’s Day, it’s hard not to be sad, especially because all we can think about are all the women who have died, who have been taken or who are missing in Jamaica. These women could be anyone of us, because we are not safe. We are not protected.
I don’t know how to end this article, I don’t know what plea to make. I don’t know what to ask…I simply wish that I could live my life unapologetically and without fear.
I just have wishes. That we women could just live, be and excel..
Samantha C. Johnson
Featured photo taken from UNWomen.org and is credited to Paula Kindsvater CC BY-SA 4.0. Please click the link to find out more about International Women’s Day.