Responses to HIV in the Caribbean are hampered by an entrenched hypocrisy, homophobia and false trotting out of “christian” values when convenient. meanwhile people continue to have sex, all kinds of sex, a lot of it unsafe.We feel free to talk around sex, to joke about sex, to sing about sex, to simulate sex, to have sex but we refuse to really talk about it- to talk about power and pleasure and vulnerability. So JFLAG, the Caribbean’s most progressive gay rights group, has been blocked from attending a UN meeting on HIV/AIDS and Jamaica’s poster girl for the Ministry of Health’s HIV education programme has been fired for getting pregnant! The heads continue to suffocate in the sand!As part of my job, i accompanied a group of young people all between 14 and 17 at an HIV Education workshop. Before the facilitators could begin one girl inquired loudly whether or not condoms would be distributed.“No!”“Well, how yuh supposed to protect yuhself without condoms?”“That’s what we’re going to teach you today.”
I’ve been thinking about sex a lot these days. And I’ve come up with the 5 Commandments that women are asked to follow here in Jamaica:1. Have as much sex as you want.2. Hide what you are doing at all costs.3. Tell one ‘hole ‘eap a lie when yuh buck yuh toe an mek dem see seh yuh fall dung.4. Expect all k’i'na fiyah fi bun fi yuh when backra fine out.5. Lie dung an beg fi mercy like sey yuh a ‘ungry belly mongrel dog.And those of us who, for all kinds of reasons, decide not to abide by all of these commandments - well, a pyere problems, yes? Kwame Dawes just wrote a really insightful piece in the Washington Post about Annesha Taylor, who was the poster girl for the Ministry of Health’s public education campaign about HIV/AIDS. Just like Sara Lawrence, the Miss Jamaica World 2006 who was the target of public scorn and hypocrisy when she disclosed that she was pregnant last year, Annesha was immediately disappeared by MOH when she disclosed that she too was bearing a child.