Commentary: Domestic Violence and Homophobia: A call for more purple over the blue Caribbean shores:

By R. D. Miller

This month saw many races and runs against domestic violence. In my community, members of the public safety services, treatment providers, and advocates came out in purple for a 5k annual run.

This warm beautiful day navigating a busy trail, a gay couple holding hands smiled and nodded in encouragement to finish. Their plight, struggles, and those who have been lost to crime from decades of irrational hatred and fear from heterosexual groups or HIV/AIDS have come a long way as society has evolved.

As this winter approaches, fewer footprints tread the trails, the changing leaves will disappear as hibernation sets in until the next 70-degree weather arrives and the purple re-emerges.

Despite huge strides for equality, more needs to be done, especially in places where it is difficult to wear an extra layer of heavy clothing – even to disguise one’s identity or the scars from abuse – places where 70 degrees can be scorned as a cold day.

Along the beautiful shores of the Caribbean, more purple races and trail walks are needed to help victims escape their trapped abusive relationships, spread awareness, and generate more resources to support change in the ongoing waves of domestic violence and entrenched history of homophobia.

Addressing domestic violence and homophobia as a single category is not a farfetched idea. It is a strategy that recognizes a correlated connective feeling, similar attitudes, and struggles. First, it is a mechanism to inform and focus. Second, a way to carry out more intervention to cut both domestic and family violence. Third, it encourages respect for differences.

Wherever you have sexual assault, exploitation, child trafficking, and targeting of people for who they are, these are in a category with domestic violence, and all at times can lead to death. Violence creates a pattern of psychological and economic impact, especially when children are involved. Such traumatic experiences have long-term critical consequences.

These luscious greenery, breathtaking sunsets, and blue water symbolize a liberated vacation for many visitors, but outside their villas and hotel rooms, victims are routinely teased, bullied, and even killed thanks to ignorance – even by ‘straight’ perpetrators who may have their struggles with homosexual tendencies, as studies have shown.

Structural and mental deficiencies continue to create a roadblock. This not only limits overall economic growth and opportunities to further highlight these colors without fear, but it also causes discrimination in employment and encourages polarization.

“All people deserve to live with dignity and respect, free from fear and violence regardless of their gender and sexual orientation” – an excerpt from a proclamation by President Obama on May 29, 2015, at an LGBT pride event.

Domestic violence can take place in heterosexual or same-sex relationships anywhere. The victims are abused and yet forced to stay silent in this epidemic. The economic, social, and moral consequences still linger.

There are plenty of definitions of domestic violence and homophobia; I will not force you to read yet another. We are discussing any situation where masculinity and femininity are narrowly defined in a way that discourages objectivity and the rule of law, removes basic rights, and renders individuals powerless.

If it feels wrong, it is wrong!

These frightening and terrorizing attitudes are not simply confined to the external scars. According to leading scholars, even when disputes are being mediated, families are still at high risk. With limited resources in rural areas, victims remain unprotected even after court decisions, and sometimes death still occurs. Harassment through the court system in these male-dominant systems allows coercing and can lead to lower penalties for offenders.

When society begins to discuss making strong statements and supporting groups that help victims reclaim their dignity, encourage legal reform to reduce crime, and educate others in understanding the motivation, then purple will find its true place and the vulnerable will not be lost.

This is not simple morality and life expectancy. A xenophobia pattern still exists in purple (victims). Socio-economic status, race, and cultural identifiers of violence continue to plague poor communities. Victims are intimidated against coming forward and the only confirms the victim’s taboo of the moral consequences.

A poor gay person abused in Africa, or an individual who lives under a bridge in Jamaica, are each as important as Rihanna’s publishing scars from the abuse she received during her domestic troubles. Violence hurts everyone, anywhere.

No one is immune from violence.

Repeated victimization can force a victim to rationalize between love and violence, blaming themselves and thinking he or she can change the other’s violence. Those uninvited visits, being tracked by GPS, is not love, it is simple stalking.

The dark side:

Some blame slavery’s dark period and the dehumanization of black women as a factor in how some women are treated today. Despite their accomplishments, a few still believe the place for women is in the kitchen, where they should be pregnant, while homosexuality is a sin and morally wrong.

However, abusing one’s partner over a disagreement, and treating a person as property while preaching that God is love from the pulpit while dictating who should be loved and how is not much different from 16-century colonial laws enabling exclusion and imperialism.

Assessment:

The cycle of power and control is seldom talked about, yet many scholars have argued that when a woman’s only meal depends on whether the man comes home that evening, this creates a strong incentive to stay in an abusive situation.

The authorities are key to the survival of these victims: Not acting due to the lack of physical scars is common but problematic. The role of emergency services should continue after the call ends and the first responders leave.

The lack of intervention only creates more victims. Aunt Suzie up the road can provide a temporary shelter, but she too hates gays and lesbians because of her parents’ views. She now lives in an abusive relationship and never discusses it because of fear, shame, and more abuse, and how it looks on the family.

Insufficient data: A leading international journal noted that domestic violence accounted for about 19 percent of the total burden of healthcare for women aged 15-44. They use the health care system more than others do, and for several years after, even when the violence has stopped.

Men are victims of nearly three million physical assaults each year in the U.S. according to experts

One in four women will experience domestic violence during her lifetime.

More than three million children witness domestic violence in their homes every year.

Children who live in homes where there is domestic violence also suffer abuse or neglect at a higher rate.

The World Bank, about 20 years ago, highlighted that in Barbados, about 30 percent of women aged 20 to 45 reported having been battered. In the British Virgin Islands, 29 percent of 330 women surveyed by the Chief Minister’s Office reported physical abuse by partners. In Jamaica, police-reported 39 percent of murders committed in 1998 involved domestic disputes.

In Trinidad and Tobago, incest reports increased by more than 200 percent in 1998, according to a local coalition on domestic violence.

Today, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and requests for restraining orders are much higher, in the thousands. Domestic violence costs people, the state, and businesses about $23 billion based on several advocate studies that quantified pain and suffering costs as well as the costs of services used by victims and the reduction in economic output.

Inside the LGBT community, there are several reports of an increase in murders since 2010. Youth and young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 years old were 2.41 times as likely to experience physical violence.

The new monument designed by Anthony Goicolea will honor the LGBT community and victims of the Orlando massacre. (Courtesy of the artist and the office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

looking in:

When media sources politicize domestic violence and homophobia, including conferences on violence open to a selected few, what people hear often confuses loud, mindless, opinions for leadership. These issues cannot be used for political gain when several reports have shown that the region still lacks policies to protect victims in general.

Anti-Homophobia day celebration at the Fondation Serovie in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Photo by Katie Orlinsky

Today’s violence along the shores is not simply due to poverty alone, but decades of unresolved social issues, where even the offender has been a victim and there are scarce resources for treatment and accountability. Reporting crime should not put victims at higher risk.

See you at the next walk or run, or even standing under a banner for safety for those still only searching for survival, and the soul of their community.

The outrage that has disappeared, the complexity of sexual assault, kidnapping, human trafficking, and exploitation of our children.`

BY R.D. Miller

The data that cannot be minimized

About 800,000 women and children are trafficked each year across international borders. Studies have shown that over 90 percent work for pimps. “Globally, more than half of all children aged 2–17 years, about one billion children in total, experience some form of violence, including sexual exploitation.

Data data shows that someone disappears every 90 seconds, in most parts of the world. Boys are also experienced sexual violence, and exploitation, but at a rate lover than girls experts noted.

Each year 3 million people take a trip in order to have sex with minors. Some predictors do not engage in the sex act, but equally exploit the victim’s lack of resources and opportunity to sell them like illegal drugs, or what experts called modern slavery.  

Many traffickers will befriend your family, built trust and offer better quality life, and later sold your kids into slave labor early marriage, and prostitution.

These victims, who escape normally do not have a voice and need a safe place to talk about their experiences without being stigmatized. Studies have shown that less than one percent of these cases end in prosecution.

Sexual trafficking of minors is not only a South East Asia problem, as many often believed. Customers no longer have to visit Nepal, India Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, or even Western Europe like Bulgaria, where sex trafficking and exploitation remains a severe problem according to the expert. Additional reports have shown part of Africa has become a major problem.

Photo by Ryutaro Tsukata

Many African counties have seen a significant rate of sexual violence and exploitation in places like Cameroon, Senegal, Chad, Kenya, Malawi, and other Central African nations. These reports also show that over 40% of adolescent girls are forced into marriage.

Additionally noted the Caribbean region has become an exotic spot for nefarious reasons regarding sex trafficking underground world tourism, both imported and exported.

This is not about criticizing anyone’s system or nation, but highlighting the need to invest more time and resources to disrupt these operations.

Wherever you have a substantial number of missing young girls, sexual assaults, experts noted will contain a high concentration of sexual predators grooming for human trafficking and other local exploitation.
 

The perception that all visitors arrive in these islands shores scarcely for relaxation and the good vibes on these islands offer is a farfetched idea. Sexual assaults, statuary rape, and the exploitation of adolescent girls and boys present an urgent problem and, for a price, you have an abundance of sellers and buyers.

Photo by shalender kumar

In Jamaica alone, the number of missing children in 2015 is estimated in 1984, according to the Jamaican Children’s Registration Office. It is a national health crisis when one compares the size of the population to other nations. These numbers offer the potential to increase if there are limited resources to properly solve these cases.

Most people are too pre-occupied with work, play and other issues.

Part I-

Earlier today I began to scan a few headlines to gain a sense of the dominant world news. Many articles and images ranged from terrorist attacks in France, Kuwait, and Tunisia, where over 30 British citizens were killed, Greece’s financial pressure that threatens the international economy to Puerto Rico’s efforts to pay a reported 72 billion in debt, and it is only six months in the year.

Additionally, the Confederate Flag fierce debate reactivated about what it represents on both sides with passionate opinions; should it remain flying in our modern history, or be removed after a White supremacist teen gunned down nine African Americans? They were at a prayer meeting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, in South Carolina as he hoped for a race war?

This is the first independent black denomination in the United States, was founded in 1816

On the pulpit side of town, many evangelists fought with the modern era of same-sex marriage decisions regarding equality. There were also bets on the speed at which the Jamaican track star Usain Bolt will run this year.

While society grapples with these socioeconomic, discrimination, crime, justice, and sometimes uplifting stories, that can change the course of a nation or a community we carry on regardless of locations, and these issues quickly dissolved or are forgotten.

What stuck with me most in these news cycles was a four-minute video. This video reverberates another dark side in our society’s backyards, that often gets washed out to the sea like debris after a storm, but keep coming back more and more, and before you complete this article, there will be another case like this.

Her story is one of many and a silent emergency

I watched in horror an undercover operation where a 13-year-old schoolgirl was being sold by her uncle for cash in Kingston, Jamaica, to a Caucasian male who posed as a tourist being sold for sex by her uncle. Even though he was arrested, this event will have negative psychological consequences long-term.

This is a young victim of exploitation: She is not the real child in the undercover operation

What is so problematic, this event is not unique to Jamaica alone, but a global issue, and as many experts noted, sexual assault is a serious crime and is known to have short- and long-term effects on victims and those who love and care for them.

Later I will highlight other areas.

It is emotional ongoing anguish that diminishes her assertiveness to gain back courage, confidence, resilience, and beauty. But it opens the door to this hidden world, where many communities are helpless or stay silent from fear and the lack of resources to combat these atrocities.

Even more difficult, or individuals who are targeted and abused because of their sexual orientation and the re-victimization attitude by some, as if they had it coming.

Often in our society, conversations on these cases begin with the interrogation of the victim.

“She could have run out of the situation or nothing happened to her.”

She was too easy and dressed provocatively

What caused her to be abused?….. Why didn’t she leave?
But no one ever asked him in jail, at school, church, or in the community; why he targeted her?

How many children before her have gone missing, abused, or murdered, and those stories remain unsolved?

Every so often a family member recognizes the truth or the offender, but because of fear of vigilante justice, will go on silent or defend the perpetrator.

Sadly, the silence and these unsolved cases hoping that with time it will go away does not make the local community safer. As many experts noticed, it causes more pain and re-victimization to the family who continues to seek closure.

The mental manipulation to gain access to their victims

These criminal assaults, statutory rape are normally linked to a broader network, kidnapping, and human trafficking. Perpetrators often disguise themselves as normal. They are on your municipal bus, taxis, drive beautiful vehicles, or in your local church choir, classroom teaching your kids, some may preach to you this Sunday, or whatever day you worship.
 

Photo by RODNAE Productions

Sadly, many pedophiles, serial predators, and pimps roaming local streets grooming your sons and daughters to satisfy their behavior, often goes undetected.

They live upstairs, may share your borderline, and fit in like a pleasant neighbor. Additionally a family member, guardian, schoolteacher, and even a representative sworn to protect gained your trust and exert their power to abuse. In some cases, they could be suffering from a mental illness disease or simply a pimp who has gone undetected.

It is a complex business of sick individuals, but as experts have noted, a parent or caregiver, whether through action or failing to act, causes injury, death, emotional harm, or risk of serious harm to a child is simply child abuse.

A sexual assault predator with mental health issues will go all the way to satisfy the intense and sexually exciting fantasies. It is not necessarily that an argument from the victim’s refusal, which has resulted in the death of a student, it is part of the sexual satisfaction of the offender.

These serial predators are charismatic,  pray on your daughters and use the argument that they are not loved, your daddy hates you and that is why he molested you, and your mother allowed it to happen.  In addition, they will target foster homes, and offered gifts.

They will use the victim’s economic needs, poverty, homelessness, drugs, and/or alcohol abuse, family conflict, or runaways as a platform. Sexual predators will offer to pay tuition fees, purchase school supplies, candy, meals, and shopping spree or a ride in a nice vehicle.

Part II-

The silence reality:

Also, acknowledge you have a systemic problem and develop rules to help these ill sex offenders who prey on your sons and daughters.

To safeguard students and public safety in general, there should be laws eliminating 100 percent black tinted vehicle windows, and assurance picks up and drop-off zone including public areas for students and well-lit areas less susceptible to crime, thereby eliminating obscure places.

This very day I wonder if an Anosognosia condition is taking place along these shores and in other places?

How often are adolescent students lured by men into dark-tinted vehicles, parked a few blocks from these high schools and universities where they were to later kidnapped, some are still missing, or found dead?

In this era of technology, these areas should have public cameras, and tracking devices on these commercial vehicles. They need a massive campaign to inform students to bypass these vehicles regardless of how quickly they may get to their destinations, and perhaps transportation is restrictive school buses alone or pre-authorization for pick up from schools.

Very often it seems onlookers contemplate safety, their pride, lack of protection if they speak up regarding underage students being lowered into these vehicles, and many of them believe they are legitimately licensed operators.

This is statutory rape, and without enforcement and sharp penalties, it gives rise to speculation if she accepted the invitation willingly, and that mentality represents minimization.

Cultural traits, taboos, societal norms, and expectations about sexual behavior that force silence must be debunked.

Saying she asked for it, is not a solution, or who “should have” and “perhaps” is not a strategy. They are victims, and these communities must have the resources to support them without being re-victimized.

We cannot continue to be detached because of the location, shame, and image. They must meet sexual assault, unwanted calling, touching, hostile environment, and the objectification of these adolescent students with more strict rules and swift penalties to send a strong statement.

This day, a mother sends a child to school, a public library, or the grocery store, or she is outgoing to her first job on local transportation or walking to her place of employment and she lives in fear until she gets back.

This is global, but the same local mindset.

Sadly, in 2014, Boko Haram one of Nigeria’s most dangerous militant groups abducted over 270 schoolgirls from Chibok. Several of these girls never returned to their homes. And while our routine lives continue, there will be more missing boys and girls.

Abducted children-Nigeria: Photo Credit Global news

Even though Boko Haram’s mentality has not marched into a classroom or a church in the Caribbean region or elsewhere, wielding a weapon, kidnapped 200 plus girls and boys, for whatever ideology or sexual belief and fled for a jungle or hills, but if your local community captures one a day, it adds up.

The report does not confirm that this is unique and exclusively a Nigerian issue

There are ongoing local headlines, and I stop counting new cases on these shores and other places whereby a beloved daughter, cousin, niece, aunt, or sister is being kidnapped, assaulted, and murdered while families hopelessly searching for answers. 

Many of these cases are now in a holding file somewhere or considered close because, every day that passes, the chance to solve and these crimes becomes slim.

Economics and Laws:

Part III

Many crime experts label sexual exploitation as an organized crime business, where profits are high and risks are low. It is an estimated $5 16-billion a year operation from Latin America to these Caribbean shores and rising according to the International Organization for Migration.

(Reuters) 2015, over 1,100 were arrested in a nationwide sweep for allegedly praying on kids according to reports. They each use the internet to lure youths and then traffic them into commercial sex. Among the people arrested in Texas were former employees of the Boys and Girls club and soldiers.

(BBC News) around the same time, about were 37 arrested in Oxford in what they believed was part of organized crime selling young girls for sex.

Though these cases can be difficult to dismantle potential networks, many families struggles with fear and anxiety of unresolved cases according to experts. Often, these girls are frightened to come forward because they operate on the heading that “Stitches get stitches.

”Simply put, if they speak up they will be harmed.

Minimizing the community risk.

These sex offenders will not age out, but with proper treatment and close monitoring, the community can minimize the risk to public safety. They frequently mark both local and international students and any soft targets.

These offenders must be tagged and their names must be made public when convicted. If one moves to your neighborhood, potential victims are aware of even when they seek employment. It ensures national awareness for families who are at considerable risk.

In many poor and developing nations, disparities between the haves vs have-nots and lack of resources make it difficult to prosecute despite both national and international laws.

Many victims started from a mutual relationship supporting friends in prostitution and can identify with another runaway victim who may be neglected or abused at home.

The victims confidentially is extremely important. Though there are upgrades to new technology and training in some poor and improvised countries, many still lack proper resources to minimize rick and close cases.

Even if a country accepts legalized prostitution, some argue it is less likely to receive a severe punishment. But it does not minimize the risk these teens face.

Deterrence tools are vital to prohibit visitors from an open-door system that allows teenagers to explore their hotel rooms and be traded as if they are a commodity on the stock exchange.

Coordination and sharing of information among professionals who are advocates for these victims are key to combating these problems.

This is a complex matter where it often bounces between rape and consent, and it cannot be addressed in silence or re-victimization.

This involves, victim protection, resources; adopting a holistic approach from sanction to therapy for the offenders, ranging from psycho sexual evaluation for treatment and public risk assessment.

It is time to re-gather because silence is often deafening:

The social responsibility is to protect these adolescent girls and boys; notably high school and universities; yes, on the job. These communities from the house next door, pulpit to the hotels must report suspicious activities.

Of course, there will be another public statement from your elected officials when these atrocities take place, but little or no assistance for the victims and their families long-term.

While the lack of resources and sometimes technical expertise remains an impediment, it is essential to hold elected officials and law enforcement officers who are sworn to protect them accountable to solve these cases.

Community support is critical for those who are ashamed and unwilling to come forward for fear of personal consequences who may have information.

If many can mobilize for politicians, entertainers, to argue their guilt or innocent, marriage equality or an officer’s terrible judgment, these same communities anywhere can mobilize to reclaim these children from sexual predators criminal acts.

Soon various politicians will wear their political party colors to become the subsequent leader; one wonders who will wear at least one exploited victim murdered or assaulted on their clothing and how many will stay mute on this missing outrage because this cycle will continue until the next headline.

Photo by Mikhail Nilov

Goodbye, going once, twice, sold

By R.D. Miller

The New Coast: Recently a solemn promise was broken. A few of us halted all travel plans until we were convinced that the government had the chikungunya virus under control. However, breast cancer took a dear family officer after 30-plus years in public service.

Despite the earlier concerns, many of us went and showed our final respect for fallen hero who also made it possible for countless family members who now have a career in law enforcement. After the flight landed, it was time to both reflect, and enjoy our heritage and the ancestors land.

Traveling the coastline, with the ocean dangerously few feet from the vehicle, while staring at beautiful homes tucked in hillsides, the temptation to pullover for a quick swim, or capture the sunset, and walk barefoot from the cold left behind emerged.

However, a once simple pastime and custom for natives from a hot sunny day or a weekend with families to prime free beach areas to relax, is apparently becoming very difficult and just an idea.

The high criminal elements that are sometimes a deterrent has now been taken over by: segregation, isolation and the fight equality now seems more dangerous.

Even vacant lots that should have been designated as historic land and preserved are either leased or bought by foreign private investors. Home prices are extremely high and few older structures that could use an upgrade, owned by the less fortunate people passed on from their ancestors, and dating back to British rule, many found themselves restricted to move freely.

As the mega-building rises, green land and trees are diminishing, thus contributing to the record high temperatures, while ignoring the environmental impact.

Many of the local people I spoke with are not against investments or people who do not look them; and they should be respected and protected, but these residences would like to see a balance. They work hard and played by the rules, but finding it more difficult to get ahead and like-stability for everyone; especially ones without a voice to survive.

The gentrification in disguise is a global trend, creating social stratification sold as transformation. Sure, a few job are created by new stores, and hotels. However, some working conditions often look like a previous century, working in hazardous conditions for extremely low wages, unable to purchase a small home in the communities they are serving.

What is the trade-off, and where are the unions to balance labour and human rights? The region is now dominated with massive imports. Locally grown products have dwindled to small corners like news racks covered with international news clips while local customs and identity get lost.

Analyzing the region’s plight from the outside is difficult. Who are the investment banks in disguise, as famous faces who claim they are in love with the region while commercialization threatens native culture. Obviously an incredible lack of knowledge or accountability about who are the human piñata lining their pockets. What is troubling, it seems an iPhone, Facebook, and YouTube appear to be more important to some, while the sand is being swept from under their feet.

The New Master/Employer

This new push in the Caribbean is not an overnight success for some. China started its diplomatic engagements in the early 1970s, or what can be called their blueprint. For Jamaica, the voyage started under former Prime Minister, P.J. Patterson on a high-level visit in 1998, when Jamaica opened an embassy in Beijing. Later, the Caribbean Economic Trade Cooperation was forged. In 2005, Jamaica hosted the first China-Caribbean trade fair. Other Caribbean countries have seen an explosion in key areas.

A few months ago, I wrote about China’s penetration into the Caribbean markets for anyone who has access to a red carpet. The modernization of technology and infrastructures brought to the region should not be an economic long-term sentence for some.

This new colonization with local hidden alliances has not lifted the poor from poverty. Many still depend on handouts for survival while the middle class struggles and remittance from family members. The lack of transparency, accountability and ignorance continue to slow growth.

One report noted that China uses its financial influence and CARICOM as its umpire to expand. Several projects, from medical centers to stadiums in St Lucia, Grenada, Dominica, and Jamaica, and others with cheap loans has some positive effects, but who are the real long-term beneficiaries?

McKinley & Company, a global consultant firm that operated in more than 40 countries, once noted that several companies have failed, especially in the energy industry, due to cheap imports from China over the past ten years. To the Chinese credit, education is mandatory.

(1 Dec 2015) Chinese President, Xi Jinping

They have tremendous control over the value of their currency in spite of questionable human rights issues. While the priceless seaports and other infrastructures are being sold, leaders should at least learn some of their business strategies, and even negotiate an energy efficiency deal to reduce the dependence on fossil fuel, especially in Jamaica where an average customer pays about 42 cents per kilowatt-hour. Many factories should be mandated to clean up the air, but that will hit the elite who run the country.

Li+Keqiang+Jamaican+Prime+Minister+Portia Simpson

Some agrued that investments are ok, but after that cameras aSome argued that investments are ok, but after that cameras are off, little financial accountability, but in order to positive some remain cautiously optimistic and hope these inroads- pay off in the long-run

Dominica PM Skerrit
Tian Qi (R), China’s ambassador to Jamaica, and Jamaican foreign minister Kamina Johnson (2019) Update
Trinidad-PM-meets-Chinas-President

Selling Our Souls: While many Africans sold slaves, they did not invent slavery. Today, the selling of native land is a rebirth of such dark period. The Europeans and others turn the plight of others into major businesses. Having few natives at the table today does not make it more acceptable.

In November 1927, Marcus Garvey was deported from the US. He fought for self-governance and despite push-back even from black leaders such as W.E.B. DuBois, who once described Garvey as “a little, fat black man; ugly, but with intelligent eyes and a big head.” The region could use him today as an ambassador. Patriotism cannot only be in the music that comes out of the region.

Marcus Garvey

This paradigm shift along these blue waters is troubling. Sunday, November 17, 2014, opened the world to an issue kept off air when CNN aired Anthony Bourdain’s Part Unknown. To some, it was uncomfortable, but viewers saw that Jamaica is not all about reported violence, marijuana, and a relaxed attitude.

The culture is going through a silent erosion where few rich individuals and companies are building resorts that not even the locals can afford to visit. “Imagine prohibiting an American from a public park,” as one vendor’s legal struggle put it to keep one of the last free beach from development.

When Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell was not selected as the 2015 Miss Universe, many mobilized in the street, online and voiced their displeasure. The same emphasis on these issues as to the plight of their nation — access to where one can live or swim free — is needed. As many questioned Kaci’s skin colour to represent Jamaica, it only underscored the argument that a few are still stuck in an identity crisis to see even more dire issues

Miss Jamaica Kaci Fennell

Where is the local tourist board?

Furthermore, few are willing to sell their souls and local government leaders appear muted. When personal financial gains ruin an entire community, conflict is inevitable. With high unemployment and poverty, and division, the criminal enterprise thrives and hopeless youths become radicalized, not necessarily from religious ideology, but stemming from polarization, isolation and the lack of opportunity.

New Charity Economy: Today, it seems the region has more charity organizations than small businesses to help the youths. However, not all charities are bad. In the US, one in six receives some type of food support and many school students go hungry each day.

Philanthropist Jeff Levitetz recently funded several schools in Jamaica’s rural outpost “In Honor of his 96 year old Grandpa Charlie”, working with Coconut Creek’s nonprofit Food for the Poor. The charity aims to build or upgrade 50 schools on the island. Jeff’s grandfather has a personal love and affection for the Jamaican culture.

eff Levitetz, president of The Levitetz Family Foundation, proudly stands… (Food for the Poor / Sun-Sentinel )

In addition, US$166 million is pledged to Jamaica to addresses climate change. The irony is that the coastlines are being ripped apart by development, causing severe climate issue. Furthermore, despite millions donated, some charities do not serve the desired purpose, and the lack proper oversight leads to actions where donations are used to further personal needs.

When politics becomes more important than higher education that only a few can afford, it only creates a new generation of ignorance. Throughout local districts, several primary and high schools still lack a good library and other educational resources to properly educate the next generation. Yes! You can continue to blame slavery, and the lack of reparations. The arguments remain valid, and add several economic downward slopes since independence to the debate.

Even 200 years ago, education was a necessity. Between 1835-1842, the region had a slave fund shortly after emancipation. While many in the region and elsewhere were denied access to education in that same period, the British government voted 30,000 pounds per annum towards the education of former slaves. The fund ended around 1845, as studies have shown for many of the British West Indies colonies. It played a pivotal part in training teachers, and building schoolhouses. It was called the Negro Educational Fund.

As 200 years ago, very little funds came from the West Indian governments. The once colonial power seemed to have more interest in educating former slaves than many leaders today to analyze global trends and make decisions.

The disappearance of good governance some could learn something from 200 years ago. It seems handouts have become the normal way for survival for some, while the communities need a sustainable long-term foundation. New charities and awards checks are not capitalism.

New Approach: Few economies have rebounded since the 2008 financial economic collapse. The Caribbean still has an economic virus. The unemployment rate, inflation currency devaluation, and crime remain a problem. Despite these issues, the people are welcoming, but they must not be fooled in a misguided perception that the few millionaires who own these shores are totally in love with the island’s relaxed vibes, food, and people.

Love does not hurt others. When Ian Fleming (and James Bond) fell in love with Jamaica in the late 1950s, conflicts were not about access to one’s own land.

The few who have the media are skilled at making noticeable linguistic shifts, while masking an urgent need to resolve the dangerous ideological faults even within their party. While it looks like capitalism on the coasts and inland; however, if it is one-sided, it defeats capitalism as a driving force to end poverty and inequality.

Today, we are left wondering how young police officers will be able to afford a home in area they will patrol to protect mega properties and address the untold stories, where hard drugs and young girls who struggle to find employment become nightclub dancers for a few dollars, controlled by pimps who force them into prostitution, sexually abused and exploited. They are not beach beauties that stroll the sand, they are victims that are often overlooked throughout the region.

Modernization is important; however, it should not take a nation back centuries, where only the rich and famous get to rewrite.

As Burning Spear once said in a song, “My island don’t sell out.”

Jamaica Reggae Superstar: Burning Spear

Commentary: Boko Haram is not just a Nigerian problem; many are in Caribbean under Disguise

By. R.D. Miller

Let us talk: Recently the world paused and, after three weeks, many have united across all socio-economic status. They emerged and denounced the April 15, 2014, kidnapping of over 250 Nigerian schoolchildren. These schoolgirls were taken at gunpoint when armed men who promised to rescue them proved wrong. These men were not government officials, but a ruthless Islāmic extremist called Boko Haram.

Photo Credit-Guardian-Online

First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama elected heads of the Islāmic community called this action barbaric; and Malala, a girl from Pakistan, has joined the call for their freedom. She too was shot for promoting education for young girls. Weeks later, over 250 are still missing as many are wondering what next.

On Saturday, May 10, 2014, I attended Howard University’s 146th graduation. Sean P. Daddy Combs, music entertainer, delivered the commencement speech. Also in attendance, Wolf Blitzer, CNN anchor. They both received Honorary PhDs.

These young girls were fresh on their minds as they too called for their release. As I watched several graduates from all over the world with pride in their accomplishments, I wondered how many future women around the world were celebrating their graduation, and what amount of exploitation it will take to be noticed by the outside world.

In practice, Boko Haram established an ideology of Islamist-militant rule that denounces education for women. This recent crime against humanity has proved that it affects us everywhere

This latest attempt is not new and in essence, many scholars believe, this action is part of the human trafficking that is the new form of slavery. If there was a time we need to emancipate our minds from mental slavery, it is now.

Who is watching Boko Haram? On the other side of the globe, there are several Boko Harams enjoying the Caribbean sun, lurking on the white sands and in towns from Aruba to Trinidad and Tobago, including Latin America. They do not live jungles, forests, and or wear army clothing. However, one should take a few minutes to look around, and you might just find a few similarities to what had occurred.

Mary Ellsberg talked about sexual violence against women and girls in Latin America and the Caribbean aged 15-49. She has reported that between 10 and 47 percent of ever-married women have experienced sexual violence, or rape by an intimate partner. Also, between 8 and 26 percent of women have suffered sexual violence by a non-partner as either a child or adult, and the health effects that are not limited to HIV, but other sexually transmitted diseases and early pregnancy.

Today, there is plenty of blame to go around, from the lack of leadership by the Nigerian government to its first denial stemming from pride, embarrassment, and fear of retaliation, and lack of resources, despite the warning signs, and now these parents have to take on justice on their own and some have started the search themselves.

The implication here is not that residents of Caribbean islands should scan all global newspapers and make every issue their own. Sometimes it is very easy to decrease these atrocities, and especially let it vanish from the radar and not trying to find out why these problems occur. Location, location, location, often creates individual detachment. It also can be how one places a value on any given crisis as we tend to believe we are immune from these crimes but, as we educate ourselves beyond our boundaries, it is much easier to find these problems next door.

The US government estimates that some 600,000-800,000 people are taken from their families each year and many millions are being held as forced laborers within their home countries. This is an estimated $10 billion business. The average sale price for a slave is around $1,250 according to the United Nation. The practice stretches beyond the African and Asian countries, but also up and down the Atlantic and the Caribbean Sea like illegal drugs.

Furthermore, over 1.2 million children are sold each year, and an estimate that 150 million girls and 73 million boys under 18 years experience forced sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual violence involving physical contact, and about a third of women aged 20-24 years old in the developing world were married as children, according what UNICEF and the World Health Organization have reported.

Why Boko Haram Matters: When Boko Haram threatens to sell these young girls for less than $10, it is not a far-fetched idea; it is reality. However, can we continue to allow ourselves to be detached? Often we portray this region through selective reasoning, and believe only a court can impose sanctions, by laws that are there to protect children and that can be a simply form of marginalization.

Minimization in some crisis is natural process when we are helpless, and especially if an issue has no significance. For example, what if i told you that melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, killing about 8,650 Americans in each year, and millions will become affected from fake sun-tanning machines. With the natural sunshine, there is no need for such machine in the region, Yes! You are probably correct, one’s personal responsibility can be diminished.

Alternatively, when Mr Putin, Russian president, invaded Ukraine, and families were disrupted when pro-Russian separatists groups took over government buildings and disrupted normal lives, this might not have been a Caribbean issue, but we should watch.

On the other hand, if I told you every year, about 100,000 Americans are victims of gun violence and countless others whose lives are forever changed by the deaths of and injuries to their loved ones. You might know some who has been affected, and only when one speaks up society can create the change it deserves.

The Caribbean Boko Haram: Is not a simple man in army clothes, it is an ideology, and the name is translated means [deceptive]. Today, the region must step back and look inside its own where Boko Haram is lurking in local churches, schools, on public buses, and town areas where young school students are being raped, kidnapped when going to school, and forced into relationships with older men

In 2013 according to  Reuters  report, Kim, now 89, said “she was only 15 in 1941 when a local official came to her village in South Korea and took her away, and sent her including others to a military brothel where she worked as a sex slave.” 

This picture condemned those behaviour.  In addition, some fathers, uncles, and elected leaders are trolling the streets like predators searching for young girls and boys, while isolating their wives through emotional and financial abuse where the scars are not visual.

Not every ideology stems from slavery or colonization. Today, some cultures allow multiple wives for one man, young girls are being sold off into marriages at an early age, female circumcision (female genital mutilation). Incest is normal, and women are not allowed to file for divorce, or even drive.

Sure, this region has evolved, which often makes it more difficult to fathom. Therefore, some issues seem as only noise, morphed into our sub-consciousness, as the modern world has moved on, or into a tolerant cultural attitude that minimizes itself in disguise.

Boko Haram prohibits education of young girls. However, their actions are closer to home than we can imagine. A State Department report said, “This organization receives bulk of its funding from bank robberies and related criminal activities, including extortion and kidnapping for ransom.”

Does this sound similar where gang members often engage in these criminal behaviors? Some have even gotten too powerful for the local law enforcement to make an arrest or enter their neighborhoods.

From Kingston, Jamaica, to Trinidad, several areas are becoming more unsafe, and these criminal elements have reduced tourism and even family members who are now hesitant to return.

I believe such is a trip to Boko’s region, these same criminal concerns reverberate today in several areas.

Often, just like the Nigerian government, the sad fact is that many in the Caribbean region spin and lower several of society’s problems. However, Boko Haram thrives on poor leadership, poverty, corruption, lack of education and poor governance.

Any society where trust is low, and a few reap justice based on wealth, crimes that are overlooked such as domestic and sexual violence, young girls forced into relationships with older men just to survive, unsolved crimes, poor economic policies, and educational system where only a few can afford it makes Boko Haram’s ideology more powerful.

Today, several brothels are strategically located in large and small towns and along the white sands. They have their client base from visitors to local business officials, and politicians. These people do not dress or sound like the Nigerian Boko Haram.

They are church members, and will not raid malls with machine guns on a shooting rampage. However, the ideologies are a few blocks from your house and government buildings.

Try telling a mother that her child was missing from simply going to school, and she knows is alive. Although 250 young girls have not been taken off the beaches or local schools in one day; however, even one missing per day in the region will be more than one year. Where is the outrage here?

Going Forward: The United Nations has always had protocols to prevent, suppress, and punish human trafficking. However, these laws are not adequately implemented to protect victims, and especially in cases of domestic violence. However, when government fails to delegate it responsibility to help the less fortunate among us, and continues to expose these people to risk, and fails to protect, they are just as “deceptive” as the word Boko Haram repres

Several writers have noted protecting trafficked children requires timely victim identification, placing them in safe environment, providing them with social services, health care, psychosocial support, and reintegration with family and community.

In some respects, I am not condoning that nothing has been done, as these families endure a lifetime of pain, while governments alone sometimes lack the resources, and are incapable. On the other hand, some leaders seem worried about how they seem on the evening news and not creating policies, and stiffer sentences for child abusers.

This is a complicated task in the terrain to find these girls, and navigating these waters to get rid of Boko Haram can be difficult. It will take collaboration between psychology, economic policy, and criminology woven into what type of future they want.

Finally, President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria has asked for help. The Obama administration and the international community have agreed. Today, leaders in the Caribbean needs a gap analysis and they should ask for help to weed out their own Boko Harams before it is too late. many geopolitical, criminal, economic, and social issues are important to discuss, but unfortunately most of these issue will take a back seat based on location,  and social stratification.