Saturday, 18 July 2020

Caribbean Writer Webinar explores the past and the future July 18 and 19 2020


"Imagine your own future, or someone else will do it for you"




The University of the Virgin Islands held a two-day webinar on July 18 and July 19, 2020 to launch Volume 34 of its annual literary publication, The Caribbean Writer; it also held the space for the annual Virgin Islands Literary Festival.

The theme, Diasporic Rhythms: Interrogating the Past, Re-imagining the Future was anchored by writer of children's books and the Editor-In-Chief of The Caribbean Writer, Alscess Lewis-Brown. As segment host, writer and storyteller, Elaine Jacobs, complimented the organizers in the re-imagination of the annual Virgin Islands Literary Festival as a teleconference.
DAY 1
On the first day, July 18, the rhythms and the past came early in the programme in the form of Calypso with a discussion on the forthcoming book "God, The Press and Uriah Butler", by its author and the first speaker for the event, Calypso King Hollis, "The Mighty Chalkdust" Liverpool.  Tubal Uriah Butler was a spiritual, labour and political leader in Trinidad and Tobago who participated in decisive public issues between the 1930s and 1950s. Hollis views the mission of Butler as incomplete, and this book serves to open discussion about the man, his work, and the role of media in bending the public view. Butler himself was given great honours during his lifetime. He holds the country's highest honour, the Trinity Cross. To show the magnitude of respect, the North/ South highway on Trinidad is named for him; while the East/West highway is called the Churchill-Roosevelt after the 1940-1945 war years world leaders of the United Kingdom and the USA.

The Speculative Fiction workshop featured writers Cadwell Turnbull whose most recognised work is the novel "The Lesson" and Tobias Buckell whose Halo novel was listed on NY Times Bestseller List for Paperback Trade. 

This workshop was more a discussion between the two authors who interestingly spent parts of their young lives in the USVI and also fielding questions from the audience. When asked how they believed the Caribbean experience could fit into persistent themes in science fiction, both agreed that living on an island was akin to living in the shadows of an empire, and facing immanent alien invasions. Such invasions can be viewed from the past with the migration of Central American peoples through the islands- as pursued and pursuers - to the arrival of the Europeans and the peoples they introduced. For the present, these invasions can be interpreted as tourism and expatriate workers.

Turnbull and Buckwell also insisted that works of science fiction was an an opportunity for Caribbean people to imagine a future of our own. Buckell retold his feelings of dismay when he read a serious passage about islanders building a spacecraft, and realized that the audience found it funny and even ridiculous. Hurt, he did not read that passage for many years until he was invited to the Caribbean. The response of the Barbadian audience to the same text was understanding and appreciation. Caribbean people have no difficulty imagining ourselves as world leaders in any space that we choose to occupy. For this, Turnbull and Buckell insist that if you do not imagine your own future, someone else will do it for you. Such imagining seems even more relevant now during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Attendees were invited to visit a blog with a bibliography of Caribbean Science Fiction writers: http://caribbeansf.com/

Canadian university lecturer born in South Africa, Rozena Maart, hosted the workshop Memoir Writing and what she calls Life Writing. In her guidance, Maart urged writers to place themselves at the centre of their stories, but to consider the writing process similar to that of peeling away layers of an onion to discover and to present "what is hidden, what is forbidden and what is repressed".

Maart also encouraged writers to deeply explore the language that they will employ to tell the story in the memoir. She notes that she gave privilege to the patois that she spoke at age eight in her first life story writing project.  Maart herself grew up in a world where English and Afrikaans were the official languages where she lived.

Encouraging writers, Maart put forward the position that each individual inherits not only the physical traits and perhaps talents of ancestors, but also their dreams and that it should be among the pieces of evidence that a life writer must research.

Interspersed with the workshops, writers whose works have been published in The Caribbean Writer read their stories and poetry. Among them were poets Biko McMillan author of "Writing on Roots" (StCroix); Timothy Hodges (Anguilla); Andre Bagoo (Trinidad and Tobago); Corrine Binnins (Woodside, St Mary, Jamaica) and Joshua Nelson (India).

Short story writers and novelists included Natalie Corthesy (Jamaica); Mary Rykov (Canada originally from Puerto Rico);  Joanne C Hillhouse "Musical Youth" (Antigua and Barbuda).

DAY 2
The featured speaker for the second day was Caribbean storyteller Paul Keens Douglas (Trinidad and Tobago), who encouraged writers not to think about conforming to the language as written in texts, but to use the language as a tool for for real creativity. He even went to say that he may wish to recite one verse of a poem and dance the second verse. He acknowledged being greatly influenced by the writing of Louise Bennett Coverley whose Anancy Stories written in patois were published in the 1940s in The Daily Gleaner in the newspaper of record in Jamaica.

The poetry workshop was led by writer Ana Portnoy (Puerto Rico) with two writers from the USVI Tiphanie Yanique "How to Escape from a Leper Colony: A Novella and Stories" and Richard Georges "Epipheneia".

Yanique, read two of her poems which led to a question of whether she was suggesting male dominance. One poem was about a bull awaiting a mate and the other about an island, which was referred to in the feminine. Yanique said that each poem was a separate reflection on issues relating to the sexes. Georges read from his award winning work about the effect of Hurricane Irma on the Virgin Islands which upheld the view that devastation does not mean destruction.  

Content writer and blogger, Ellie Hirsh, led the workshop on Writing for Children and books that are targeted to young audiences.

Charlene Abramson Joseph (USVI) read her book, The Vienna Cake Mystery where the guilty has to be found out and restitution done to restore good order.

Winnifred "Oyoko" Loving (USVI) read her book "My Name Is Freedom" which is conversations of self-awareness and encouragement between children and the older members of their family. The book creates an opportunity for the discussion to continue in the minds of the readers.

Publisher, Denene Milner, gave a background to her mission of being a publisher for Black children's stories written by and illustrated by persons in the Black community. Milner's mission is to publish books that place the humanity of contemporary black children at the centre. She read from Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut written by Derrick Brown and illustrated by Gordon C James. The book highlights the  affirmations and well-being that flows with a boy's visit to the barber shop.

Other readers who were listed included Kirk Ramdath (Canada and T&T); Shenny De Los Angeles (Dom Rep). 

View the full programme of the webinar at the link below.

END



Monday, 23 March 2020

The Liturgy Speaks the Gospel

The Liturgy Speaks the Gospel



I attended a business event in Downtown Kingston one morning in late November, 2018.
A Minister of Religion stepped forward to offer the opening prayer as is customary in Jamaica.

He did not offer a prayer. He went through a series of actions that put a smile on my lips because I recognised it as a scaled down version of the Morning Prayer liturgy that is driven by passages from The Bible. 

The Morning Prayer tradition has scripture lessons assigned for each day of the year. Taken together, they provide a lesson. After a few years of following this practice, worshippers become familiar with the The Bible, the Old Testament and also the New Testament.

For example, the format for the Fouth Sunday in Lent which fell on March 22, 2018, the four readings covered hope provided by God's promise through Jesus.
 1. It told the story of the anointing of a shepherd and youngest boy in a family to become the leader the nation needed; 
2. The reading is reassurance of God's presence in your life, a told through the Shepherd's Psalm; 
3. The evangelist Paul's letter of hope through Jesus, the light of the world;
4. The parable of the Blind Man as the authoritative source that Jesus is the Light of the World. 

The cleric that morning downtown could not follow the liturgy of Morning Prayer as he had been allotted five minutes, and this is how he used it. He said:

“Revelations reign upon the earth. Reading from the book of Revelations, chapter 5.

'Then one of the elders said to me, Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed. He is able to open the scroll and its seven seals'.

"Recently, I was walking on the streets and saw art on the roadside. It was the Jamaican flag, but a lion was carrying the Jamaican flag and my mind went back to a song that I know very well, I will teach you.


'The Lion of Judah shall break every chain,
The Lion of Judah shall break every chain,
The Lion of Judah shall break every chain,
He will give us the victory, again and again'.


“As we come together at this conference, think of the goal and think of the victory at the end. In scripture, the Lion of Judah was Jesus himself, he was slain on the cross, and became victorious and there was the resurrection after death. Have that picture this day as we say the National Pledge.


"Before God and all mankind, I pledge my heart, my mind my body in the service of my fellow citizens. I stand for justice and for peace. To work and think so that Jamaica may advance the welfare of the whole human race.
And that puts together why we are here today, Amen.”

In five minutes, the Reverend delivered an opening sentence, scripture reading, hymn, prophetic homily, intercession and benediction. The hopeful message was that the seminar will achieve its purpose.


The purpose of the seminar was to help development practitioners overcome social barriers and that the lifestyles of people living in depressed communities will dramatically improve and keep getting better.

The reverend himself is assigned to an extremely tough neighbourhood.
/ghd
March 23, 2020


Sunday, 22 March 2020

Curbing Intimate Partner Violence in Jamaica- The Way Forward

She said no, on March 19, 2020 when the police gave her an opportunity to make a report about being beaten up by her lover. The beating happened during daytime in the street in their community, seen by onlookers and a video recording was shared. Still, the lady refused to start a legal process that would protect her and bring her justice.

Observers may be forgiven if they consider a probable life trajectory….
She lives with low self esteem, having grown up being abused and belittled; she will be beaten by him again, and if she leaves him, his abuse will be replaced by that from another, and again. Her case will include substance abuse, child neglect and or child abuse; and maybe her story ends as a homicide and or suicide. I hope not, but what does statistical research tell us about intimate partner violence in Jamaica?
  
What we Know – Situation Analysis
Mr Anthony Harriott was the lead author of the 2012 Caribbean Human Development Report (CHDR), reported that there was a 4% gap between men and women in situations involving domestic violence. Both sexes are victims and perpetrators in the culture of violence. The figures do not tell us the cases when the violence involved persons of the same sex and persons who are not in intimate relationships.

Harriott further says that the questionnaires suggest that victims of domestic violence by intimate partner to be a victimization rate of 2.3 per cent of the population.






The 2016 IDB Report Crime and Violence in Jamaica by Anthony Harriott and Marilyn Jones further distilled these figures and said that 15.4 per cent of women who were victims of gender based violence reported the matter to the police.
The document gives remedies but a significant pull quote is, ‘Proactive, pre-emptive policies need to target at-risk groups, eradicating violence before it starts.”

The Women's Health Survey 2016 authored by Carol Watson Williams, published jointly by the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN) and UN Women also repeated that "Jamaica has no reliable estimate of the prevalence of violence against women, including intimate partner violence. The statistics do not allow an examination of intimate partner violence as a discrete category of interest." 

Watson Williams, using a model that was developed for CARICOM, sampled 2,145 households from rural and urban communities and included all parishes. Her results indicate that 27.8 per cent of all women in Jamaica have experienced intimate partner violence. If you use the traditional way to round up numbers, that would be one third of the female population, but UN Women reports this as one quarter of the population.

There were 1,017,697 females over the age of 15 counted in the 2011 Population and Housing census that was undertaken by the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN).  At the highest level, about 250,000 females would have been affected.
 In 2017, UN Women said that one third of women, worldwide have this experience. It would then appear that Jamaica falls within the global norm.

Watson Williams identified the three strongest risk predictors of intimate partner violence as: childhood experience of violence; controlling behaviour of a husband/partner; alcohol use by the perpetrator.

Institutional data from hospital sources quoted in the survey show that between 2013 and 2014, 2,975 patients were treated for injuries resulting from assaults. Of this amount, 2,677 (89%) were women and girls, 1,765 (59%) being females between 10 and 19 years old.
The survey also mentions a Draft National Strategic Action Plan with Strategic Priority Areas, that if followed, is expected to create an environment in which gender-based violence is eliminated, or at the very least, significantly reduced. The highlights of the plan are set out below:
  • Preventive actions to re-programme the cultural practices away from acceptance and tolerance of gender-based violence, to one in which there are significant social, cultural and legal disincentives to violence against women and girls.
  • Improving services available to victims and improving investigations, prosecution and enforcement, are also expected to help reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence.




The 2015 UNDP publication, A Study of Women, Politics, Parliament and Equality in the CARICOM Countries – Jamaica Case Study  makes a damning statement, that I have not been able to find support within the documentation. It says, “The law and the legal environment in the Jamaican judicial system is itself characterized by gender inequality. Because of this, incidents of sexual harassment, abuse, rape, and incest are frequently treated lightly and not as serious offences.” I am puzzled by this outlook. In Jamaica, rape and incest lead to criminal convictions. Abuse with intent to physical harm is an offence. Harassment, I could agree, is not a criminal and perhaps not a civil offence.  

On March 25, 2020 the Human Resources and Social Development Committee of Parliament which started its work in 2016, and chaired by a clergyman, recommended the removal of abortions from the Offences Against the Person Act and that a civil law Termination of Pregnancy Act be brought into force; this is a major indication of support for females who do not want to carry a pregnancy to term.

Furthering the argument that the society is not inherently violent to women, lecturer in Social Anthropology, Department of Sociology, Psychology and Social Work, the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. Dr Herbert Gayle in an article published in January 2020 said, “Violence against women: Lead with Science versus gut feelings and campaigns.”
He said, “The number one reason women die in Jamaica is because men are at war, and women get caught up in it. This accounts for two-thirds of all female deaths in Jamaica. Women die as a result of being branded informers, as gang sleepers, as background war strategists, to trigger or upset the opponent, or in family or corner wipe-outs. In simple terms: if we focus on the gang violence that kills over 1,000 males each year, we would save the lives on two-thirds of the women who die each year in those wars. We could then successfully focus on femicide – which does exist. By treating the problem of violence against women as an isolated issue we are exposing a lot of women to extreme violence. Such approaches also waste money for as long as the war continues it will take more money to continue fixing women without looking at men.” 

A Gleaner article that was published on September 11, 2016 said that Dr Gayle, and others conducted a study that found, “approximately 70 per cent of domestic disputes are centred around finances, and while men are more likely to physically abuse women, it is the women who are generally more likely to instigate the conflict.” The article headline was Men: Silent Sufferers - Male Victims Of Domestic Abuse Less Likely To Cry Out
“A local study has found that approximately 70 per cent of domestic disputes are centred around finances, and while men are more likely to physically abuse women, it is the women who are generally more likely to instigate the conflict.

The recently completed study looks at power and conflict in the home and represents a serial snapshot of society.

It was carried out between 2007 and 2014 by Dr Herbert Gayle who said, "What we found is that men are twice more likely to batter the women and women are twice more likely to initiate the fight then lose the fight."

"The problem we are finding, though, is that we make this assumption that once it's domestic violence, it's the woman who is the victim.”

The 2012 Caribbean Human Development report that was mentioned before seems to bear this out in the table that shows a four to six per cent gap in crime reporting between men and women.



  
The 2020 UN Human Development Perspectives: Tackling Social Norms, A Game Changer for Gender Inequalities presents data that shows an appreciation for the complex nature of gender inequality, and that it may not always be a manifestation of injustice and oppression.

What the document says about Jamaica is that the country is in the High Human Development category and that between 2010 and 2018, seven per cent more women were more educated than men; in 2018, 19 per cent of parliamentarians were women; and 13 per cent more men participated in the labour force.

The data presents no area in the world as an example of gender utopia.

Europe and Central Asia has the narrowest Gender Inequality Index of 0.2, but 25 per cent more men participate in the labour force and 21.2 per cent of seats in parliaments are held by women. Sub Saharan Africa has women in 23.5 per cent of the parliamentary seats and there is a nine per centage gap between men and women in the workforce, but the Gender Inequality Index is much higher at 0.5.

The report suggests that social norms maintain inequality and work needs to be done to “change unequal power relationships among individuals within a community or challenging deeply rooted gender roles.”

It presents a three-pronged tool to dismantle gender inequality: education, awareness and incentives.
Jamaica already has in place many of the recommendations of UN agencies to reduce gender based violence such as legislation protecting each gender in access to education, inheritance and land ownership. There is access to reproductive health resources, excluding, up to now, legal abortions on demand. There is promotion of gender equality in employment.

In Summary

This is what we know from this limited selection of surveys and reports:
·        Jamaica does not count the number of cases in Jamaica of intimate partner violence;

·        A survey done in 2016 reported that 27.8 per cent of females surveyed said that they had experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime which would number about 254,000 females if expanded to the population as a whole; and this is very close to the 30 per cent norm reported in 2018 by UN Women;

·        The rate of violence victimization of 2.3 percent of households affects roughly 15,000 households across the country while it should not be ignored that some of the violence is caused as an offshoot of male conflict. Women are twice as likely to initiate behavior that results in violence and them being labeled as victims;

·        Nearly 90% of assault victims seen by hospitals are female; and 15% of victims make a report to the police;

·        The reasons why women do go to the justice system for help, in the majority is not recorded but it excludes fear of being beaten again and fear for the safety of children;

·        One study says 70% of domestic discord is over finances, so these decisions to seek help could be influenced by decisions about money.

What are the recommendations:
·         Harriott and Jones: ‘Proactive, pre-emptive policies need to target at-risk groups, eradicating violence before it starts.”

·         Williams: Preventive actions to re-programme the cultural practices away from acceptance and tolerance of gender-based violence, to one in which there are significant social, cultural and legal disincentives to violence against women and girls.
  • Improving services available to victims and improving investigations, prosecution and enforcement, are also expected to help reduce the prevalence of gender-based violence.  

Where Do We Go From Here?
The Prime Minister's 2020 Budget Presentation was delivered on March 19, 2020, the same day that the battered woman in Westmoreland rejected the opportunity to bring charges against the man who beats her and hurls insults at her in public, and in whom she places her affections.

The leader’s presentation stated the work that is being done to reduce violence in the society such as converting police stations into modern, citizen-friendly workspaces and bringing in more crime fighting technology. He also noted that to control violence the social culture has to change.

His remarks were focused on areas that are currently under the Zones of Special Operation (ZOSOs) when he said, "While we can reduce murders by controlling the space, controlling violence is more difficult as it has become a part of how we interact and behaviours have to change. We have seen that the change in the environment - improved physical infrastructure, waste disposal practices, willingness to resolve conflicts through restorative justice - has had a lasting positive impact."

Watson Williams' survey noted that domestic violence has no social boundaries, so I can tentatively foresee that these very important and much needed measures in violence prone communities will still not significantly reduce intimate partner violence.

Last year, the Wife of the Prime Minister moved to make Jamaica deliver the pilot of a regional Caribbean Women and Child Initiative (CariWaC) initiative, that is specifically targeted at reducing intimate partner violence. The vision is to have a space in the community where a woman who is living in poverty can receive empowerment services from trained health specialists. The initiative became the subject of severe criticism because of the timing of the launch of the initiative for Fathers' Day, and its laudable mission is still to be realised.
   

Let us return to more useful material from the Women's Health Survey and what it can teach. The recommendations are precise:
1.     Strategic and ongoing research and application of the findings is needed to make the National Strategic Action Plan on Gender-based Violence successful;
2.     Increase the capacity of the police and health services to help women who are ready to receive help;
·         The survey suggests that health and justice professionals can and do identify victims and make referrals, but sadly, half of these women reject help until they are broken down from abuse, in desperation, they become receptive. Indeed, counselling centres and shelters in each parish are vital to building up confidence in women who are at risk or who are already victims. Women and girls, the survey says, speak about their experiences to people who can actually offer help, and who do help when the women are mentally and emotionally ready to accept that help. CariWaC hopes to be a part of this solution.

·         The move to empower the justice system to press charges on a suspected abuser when the victim has not made a report can be interpreted as an intrusion on an adult female’s rights. One woman's personal terror is not a risk to a population. Our society has made a long journey towards increasing sovereignty of self. Forcing an adult female to participate in a legal process for her own well-being is reducing her status to that of a person who is incapable of making a decision or a minor. Even if it is reasonably sure that this will benefit her welfare, it is an infringement of choice. Time will decide whether we accept this as a society, or not.
3.     Structured and sustained behaviour change campaigns that continue the shift in thinking around gender norms and roles to create a society in which violence against women, including intimate partner violence, is openly rejected and firmly addressed.

Thanks to local, Jamaican research, such as the Women's Health Survey, and international surveys, there is sufficient information to inform broad decisions that can reduce intimate partner violence in a population. The balance of my essay is how I would structure a communication campaign where violence is openly rejected and firmly addressed.

Dr Herbert Gayle, in his article Violence against women: Lead with Science versus gut feelings and campaigns.” in February 2020 highlighted solutions individuals can make to reduce their risk of domestic abuse. These can be adapted for both males and females:
1.      Address the entire frame of domestic violence in your home and community
2.      Manage money issues before they escalate
3.      Establish partnership
4.      Have a detailed history of the family of your partner
5.      The church should lighten up on patriarchy messages and provide services for victims
6.      End the privacy custom related to intimate partner violence.

The community of development practitioners have been addressing the scourge of
violence and have collectively been discussing how to enable communities to have a
culture that regenerates of non-violence.

Professor Harriot’s 2012 UNDP Citizen Security Survey (CHDR), carries figures that
have been  very troubling to Jamaicans.
On page 13 it says, “In the In 2017, Jamaica’s homicide rate was 56 per 100,000; in
2018, the homicide rate dropped to 47 per 100,000, but remains three times higher
than the average for Latin America and the Caribbean. Forbes Magazine listed
Jamaica as the third most dangerous place for women travelers in 2017.

In 2018, Business Insider ranked Jamaica 10th among 20 of the most dangerous places
in the world. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently cited crime as the
number one impediment to economic growth. The Jamaican government concluded
that corruption and the transnational crime it facilitates presents a grave threat to
national security.” 

The 2014 National Security Policy goes into tackling organized crime in depth, but
does not mention domestic crime, suggesting that these types of crime are not an
ingredient of the homicide rates. Dr Gayle himself notes elsewhere that to solve
violence against women, violence against men needs to be solved.

In its early editions, the annual Best Practices for Community Development
coordinated by the Planning Institute of Jamaica has given focus to specific issues
that occur in communities.

In the 2020 edition, the focus was towards finding definitions for and identifying best
practices for community development and they indeed touched on reducing violence.
Notable among the presentations were from expert on violence reduction, University
of Ottawa Professor Emeritus Irvin Waller; and also the Mona School of Business and
Management Managing Director Dr Olivene Burke who outlined best practices.
Waller highlighted success in several cities where crime had increased and how he
believed that Jamaica can lower its crime rate by 50% in two years. Dr Waller’s
essentials are:
1.     Enable a National Violence Prevention Board informed by global portals and engaging regional and local violence prevention boards;
2.     Implement a plan with components of diagnosis, mobilization, implementation and evaluation; using mapping of areas of social data including deprivation; identify outcome goals
3.     Mobilise the relevant sectors
4.     Provide adequate and sustained funding including training
5.     Engage the public.
Giving a graphic example of investment, Waller said that the investment in the plan should be funded to the value of a cup of McDonald’s coffee for each individual in the population.
In March, 2020, a McDonald’s cup of specialty coffee was about US$3.30 and the population, according to the 2011 census conducted by STATIN was 2.8 million individuals living in Jamaica. Waller’s recommendation is that the budget for the plan should be US$9.2 million, the equivalent of J$1.25 billion.
In her presentation, Burke said that the process to engage communities should follow the following practices:
1.     Evaluate community readiness, which Burke says is the extent to which a community is adequately prepared to implement a development intervention or programme. 
·        Awareness and understanding of issues by the community
·        Motivation by the community to get involved and buy into the intervention plan;
·        Evidence of social and psychological ties within the community;
·        Capacity of local leadership to undertake developmental work;
·        A governance structure in the community with rules;
·        Presence of resources;
·        Knowledge of the ecological environment with regards to sustainable economic livelihoods;
2.     Establish workable collaborations through partnerships, as these can strengthen organisations through long term cooperation and collaboration and the ability to combine human and other resources;
3.     Develop a practice where data informs policy and decision making. Data analysis should be fundamental to programme monitoring and evaluation;
4.     Plan for sustainability by identifying the financial and social impact on the expected social value.

To achieve the goal of reduced domestic violence needs to address violence in the society in general, which must include outreach to males, but not exclusively to males.
No one programme can address this, but a wholistic approach which no doubt must also be integrated into almost every other social programme to include education, health, national security, labour and employment, wealth creation, housing, poverty reduction, housing and land ownership, just to name a few.
Although the approach must be far-reaching, the sustainability and regeneration will be achieved with the change in cultural norms. The rest of the essay will give suggestions on how to make that change.

 
Taino carving of a woman crying
Planning For Results
Without delay, the mission is to rapidly reduce domestic violence by motivate the influential segments of the society to socially reject the provocation and beating up of spouses and partners as reprehensible behaviour.

Waller says that a violence reduction plan should cost J$1.25 billion, the implementation cost will be multiple times this amount. A creative cost estimate which will include filmmaking, events, artiste development, theatrical productions and wayside advertising would probably be ten times more in a year employing the very best talents and expertise who can deliver the very best outcomes.

There are many valid models of behaviour change that could be examined and adapted for specific communities. These models, in different ways, consider the reality of prevailing lifestyles, and the importance and role of self-discovery and reflection. The models allow for some degree of relapse and do encourage consistency and refreshing action. Perhaps there is no right way and no wrong way, just the way that is best for the health of the person and of the household and community. The health sciences have professionals who competently deliver on these theories and have models for prediction and they make good theoretical sense and have yielded encouraging results.

Alongside this, I also have noted the tremendous resources of time, people and money that these theories employ and which need a high level of external support in order to be sustained in the long run; they seem not to readily rejuvenate. It almost feels like a form of dependency. Without the external sustenance, there are heartbreaking stories of recidivism or relapse or reduction in rate of progress. The HIV/AIDS behavior change reports offer some examples.

Global AIDS Update 2018  for the Caribbean noted in its At A Glance column that, “Renewed commitment to combination prevention that is tailored to populations and locations with the greatest need is required to accelerate reductions in new HIV infections.” And in its investment summary, “The financial resources available for HIV responses in the Caribbean increased until 2011; since then, it has declined, largely due to scaled back international support. Between 2006 and 2017, the availability of domestic resources increased 123.7%, while international resources have decreased by 16%. In 2017, the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) provided 57% of the total HIV resources in the region; the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria (Global Fund) provided 8%.”

This over reliance on external support should be a matter of concern to that community. There are anecdotal stories of when the social intervention support is removed, the community deliberately reverts in order to force the NGO or the state to keep the support going.

Then there is the information blitz approach, which is sometimes used to shame the society into behaviour change. This action is without behaviour change theory and probably shows absolutely no significant return for the effort that is put in. I am deliberately withholding giving examples of this high visibility and low return approach.
  
Community Buy-In, Tie-In, Accountability and Support is the Solution

The communication support here should focus on bringing together consensus on domestic violence that reaches every corner of the society. This is what we are going through right now.

Supporting storytelling will give examples, show, tell, provide opportunities for discussion. Use the data to devise what stories to tell when, where to place them and the media to use in each case.

Opportunities for reward whether through winning competitions and being provided an opportunity to further ones dreams should be built into the rewards and payback. This is the discipline of marketers.

There will be members of society who do not respond to either, and this is where punishments and reminders should come in, probably through the justice system.


March 2020 marks the full awareness of countries outside of China to the threat of the COVID-19 virus and at the point of my writing, there is no good prediction as to what the full disaster will be for the lives and livelihoods lost and economies damaged. What I have seen, around me, is how fear for immediate personal safety is impacting behaviour change. With nary a whimper, the mature segments of entire societies have accepted a common threat and have put up little resistance to changing established ways of life. Ramping up behaviour change comes with a sharp prod to an emotional trigger.

I stood at a food takeout counter a few days ago, about a metre away from a woman and we were the only customers in the store. She scrutinized me and landed quizzical and challenging glances on me; I was too close for her comfort. My mission was to be close to the counter because the staff in the store are not the most alert when it comes to customer service, so pity the feelings of my fellow patron. Normal is now abnormal. All right is now all wrong.

We have witnessed this time and again in Jamaica. An item is stolen and it is returned because a community leader sent a message that it was a mistake or wrong behaviour. There was an understanding of acceptable behavior.

The video recording of the Westmoreland couple was peopled with supporters of the violent man. He did not hit her in a moment of rage, it came after several minutes of loud confrontation. He felt comfortable with his planned actions because he had backative, strength in the number of men around him who were lauding his behavior and berating the woman. To change this, the man must truly believe that he will be socially ostracised for beating his girlfriend, even if she had done him wrong. The supporters who he wants in his life must but be the persons who will starve him of social comfort.

I have participated in a community response that kept a woman safe until she was emotionally strong enough to change her situation. In that matter, the man's football crew stopped welcoming him into their midst. He received the pain of rejection and that kept her safe.

Hidden from our understanding is the reason for his rage, but we should also accept that provocation can escalate a situation to extreme violence. This is where the value of culture comes in, for persons to use discernment and see danger and how to avoid it. Storytelling and evocative language to teach survival is a very powerful tool which has become disused in recent times. It is a mistake, I think, to allow a higher standard of behavior to one side of a relationship, and not another. If you are having a relationship with a partner who will flirt, be prepared for emotional pain. If you are causing emotional pain to a person who has a history of getting into an explosive rage, assess carefully what you are willing to endure in the relationship.

If this sounds like I am projecting personal responsibility, I am, but I also acknowledge that many of us do not fulfill our own personal expectations all of the time, which is why the community is important.

The community can be paid professionals or meddlesome family members, friends and neighbours who offer an open door policy. One will be non-judgemental, the other will give their unwanted views as they offer care and support, or simply act to protect themselves against a threat to good order in the society.
  
To get a community to have a standard of accepted behaviour, we need stories that tell us what is wrong and what is right; that identify the victim, the villain, the hero. Factless fables should not be told as if they were truth, but told as wisdom in fancy dress so that it captures the imagination. Most stories can be for entertainment, but in many, there are stories that bear far more riches, and we should unearth them, place them where they will have impact and use them to define what is acceptable and what is not.

Unfortunately, for decades, an unsuspecting Jamaican audience were exposed to perhaps, too many harmful, and glamourous soap operas and TV mini-series from the USA that were bereft of sustaining nourishment. I would say the mini-series genre from India, derided as melodramatic, contains much more value.

I give much praise to the theatre community in Jamaica which have had a longstanding history of projecting relatable stories to mixed audiences, leaving them with smiles and hope. I like to highlight the vividly named Tek Yu Han Off A Mi, one of many stage productions which addressed and gave resolution to domestic violence.

The popularity of social media has allowed individuals to coalesce around their most comfortable subject areas and norms and empowerment and to swarm opposing views and brutally denunciate them online and beyond. This is a natural role of a society, allow members to know good from bad, harmful from healthy.

A quick check-in on thee deprecatory words that are popular in Jamaica, disgusting shameful, dunce and stupid show that they were in decline, but are now in modest to steep resurge. Perhaps this is evidence of the prevalence of "denunciatory culture" where you get brutally taken down for stepping out of line. It is not an enlightened way for a society to move, but it is performing a role that had been suppressed in modern times.

Disgusting had been declining in use until the late 1990s

Dunce started to grow in popularity in the 2000s

Stupid became more popular in 100 years and is still growing in use
I am against the use of deprecatory words to promote behavior change, what I see from these trends is that society is open to finding ways to define what is good, what is not good. This is information to be used in planning. I further say that the use of shaming and berating and fighting is currently prominent in Jamaican culture and this is an opportunity to perhaps promote other kinds of ways to find resolution.

The objective must be to reduce domestic violence, and for that it must be recognized that behavior of more than one person needs to be supported.

Tonight, April 4, I watched an apology from a member of the public, orchestrated by the police, for breaking the all-island curfew. The man used the words disgraceful and demeaning to describe his behaviour. Words that - I am very willing to underscore - he does not use in his normal speech. The public accountability - I am using this word instead of shame and pillory - as taken up on social media, looks as if it will be effective in stopping him and others from repeating the offence. 

The plan should map the places where the pockets of domestic abuse is likely occurring - reported and unreported - and develop data to do mapping of these areas. The research already done says that it is not restricted to one geographical area and it affects roughly 15,000 households and 254,000 females over the age of 15.
These females and their spouses will be the target audience.

The strategy should have a five-year lifespan so that it can enter the mind of one generation of youth from age 15 and carry them through adolescence to adulthood.

It should be anticipated that the quality of the expressions should become refreshed through demand. If one aspect is lacking resources, the message it can stay alive through another.

The strategy is to utilize storytelling to promote a discussion about matters that lead to domestic violence. The strategy would be to select stories from already published work, develop them into creative expressions, create platforms for engagement so that the responses can be measured and mapped.

To adequately create a sustained national discussion, there needs to be penetration across all platforms and all markets. The marketing plan would consider the number of radio stations with listenership of more than 15,000 at any time, the television stations.

It will create partnerships with the leading creators in film, music and music videos, public murals, theatre and events across disciplines.

There needs to be synergy across the platforms. A story selected must find expression on stage, in musical performance and music video, in public spaces through murals and transit, on radio, on games and in discussions online.

Targets for engagement on each platform has to be done frequently and should inform the next roll-out of materials. This will include social media measurement and listening; broadcast media listening and analysis.

The police stations and hospitals where assault victims come for treatment should have a protocol in place where reports and cases are logged and provided to the head of mission. These will be analysed to determine what it means for the engagement with society.

The wide sweeping investment in social behavior to be accompanied by rewards and punishments by members of society, through social media means and others, should be carefully set out with deliverables written out as numbers. If the numbers do not roll in, at the required rate, the exercise will be a failure and a waste of all inputs and resources.

Behaviour change should be accountable to numbers such as sales figures, immunisation rates, returns on investments and any other meaningful investments.

Right is rewarded and wrong is corrected and punished. Will the society want to buy into that? Let's try.








What this will look like is within two year roll-out of
1.     Three hit songs per popular genre with live stage performances and interviews
2.     Three major theatrical productions
3.     Three feature films taken from short stories
4.     Three one-year radio dramas
5.     Murals in targeted communities
6.     Associated Print and digital PSAs
7.     Games
8.     Literary events and competitions
9.     Inclusion of elements of the productions in every major national musical and sporting event or championship

Measurement Activity
1.     Demonstration of visibility of each initiative across popular platforms
2.     Demonstration of engagement of each initiative with target audiences
3.     Required level of participation achieved for call-to-action activities
4.     Web visits and click-throughs correlated with media coverage

Outcomes
1.     Increase in reporting of domestic violence cases
2.     Increase in reporting of domestic violence cases
3.     Increased demand in services for victims of domestic violence
4.     Use of data by health, justice and social service professionals
END



END


/gd
March 21, 2020
Updated April 3, 2020