By Helena R. Edwards
We all hear the rumours about politicians in St Vincent and the Grenadines requiring women and young girls to trade sex for favours. These allegations are not new to the Vincentian society. Some individuals may prefer to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that these things are not going on, but the truth is, if you are a woman and you live in the Caribbean, it’s more likely than not that you have been sexually violated by a fella in a position of power.
A position of power doesn’t automatically equate to a man who is in leadership or has political power. It can be as simple as the average van driver who has the power to offer a young lady a free ride in exchange for entrance into her vagina. St. Vincent is not unique in this way. There are many countries throughout the world where women lack power and as a means of survival they are forced to use their vaginas.
The situation for women in St Vincent and the Grenadines has been more pronounced than some other islands with more economic power. A bigger economic pie will result in a greater chance of women benefiting. As a former British colony that can only boast of land and sea as resources, St Vincent and the Grenadines is at a greater disadvantage for economic failure. Without capital, it’s difficult to develop and market these commodities (land and sea) to attract foreign tourists with money. Countries like Jamaica, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago have a greater advantage in marketing themselves to the world. St. Vincent has to compete with these more developed Caribbean nations for tourist dollars and without the amenities to attract tourists, the economy remains greatly underdeveloped.
Traditionally, men have been in control of power throughout the world. They still very much run things, although in more developed countries women are having a greater role and voice in leadership positions. As women’s economic power increases in these developed countries, so too is their social and political power. In St Vincent and the Grenadines, social and political powers seem to be impossible feats for women who lack fundamental economic power.
Historically, Vincentian parents invested in their male children. An investment in a male child was deemed a safer investment than in a girl child. You see, a boy can’t get pregnant, but a girl can. Many Vincentian parents who invested in their girl children by way of an education have lost their investments when these girls became pregnant in high school and had to terminate their education. The boys who fathered these girls’ children were allowed to continue their education while these girls’ futures along with their parents’ investments went up in smoke.
Thus, the boy child became a safer and more valued investment for poor parents. In addition, boys carry on their fathers’ surname and family legacies, so they became much more important to the family as a whole. A wife who couldn’t give her husband a son was looked upon as a sort of failure. Thus, women within the society became a sort of de facto second-class citizens who were conditioned to be servants to men either as wives, in the case of “the good” women or “whores” (the bad women) simply to be used for a man sexual pleasures.
We can see this “good woman” versus “bad woman” duality being played out in Vincentian society whereby men will choose the “virgin-like” women as their wives while they engage in behaviours that reform innocent girls from poor economic backgrounds into cultural prostitutes. These poor girls live in a materialistic society where self-esteem hinges on items such as fashionable clothing, cell phones, social associations, etc., etc. They have the ambition to achieve these things so that they can feel important within the society. The men within the society who control these means, exploit these young girls sexually as a result.
Without the economic power to become self-reliant, women lack the ability to fight back. Women are in competition with one another for the ability to survive economically. There will always be a woman who is willing to suck a man’s dick for a job, a scholarship, a cell phone or some other material gain. Therefore, the women within the society are at a gross disadvantage. The men know this and they are not willing to reform their behaviour. They seem to relish the power to be able to have this power over women.
All women within the society, even the most educated, is at this disadvantage. An educated woman who needs a job has to suffer the same indignities as an uneducated woman who might simply need food. Thus, women at all levels of the society are voiceless. If they speak out, they risk becoming economic suicide victims. To change this generational exploitation of women, it will require men to take a strong stance against the exploitation of women and punish those men who exploit women. These men are going to have to envision all Vincentian women as their mothers, sisters, daughters, etc., and commit themselves to fight for the liberation of women. It requires a selfless commitment for which men will be prepared to die. How many Vincentian men are willing to take this challenge? Remember, when you sexually exploit someone else’s daughter, another fella will do exactly the same thing to your daughter. Fellas, can you live with that!
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to email@example.com.