CARIMACtimes 2010 Edition
Human trafficking: A Jamaican reality Pickney, parenting and pornography Fraudsters swipe unsuspecting cardholders
BACKSTAGE ... TAKING A CLOSER LOOK AT SOME SOCIAL ISSUES IN JAMAICA
, d a Re
t c a n e h t
opy of put a c very ader. e d r l u e o h c t of e f to We wish we hands an issue. ition o e d h e t 0 201 ge in cost is agazine table , thE livers a delec m Backsta person, but e g a t e the m u t n e acks ac times, d cover a spectr st Caribbea we have mad realise that no e , t, u t e e M a W r m I n . h o r t e f R n e ere Int ize r fre t ca h i icles e o t c f t r h t a e d l n f o i r t l o ll n s n wo ilable o s ready acces ing that it wi a selectio hich today’s v a w they know an we could ne ha es with ny, but that everyo ake comfort, a th . m of issu e r et es y more ersion alone da u n e w s a s s t . s i m u d u f b n c h o e s v c t i con print to rea on by asks, e kinds sues d e versi .com. help us ched with a the is . they are th t Backstage n i l n o e rea arimac ss the out. Bu ne trait t hav ers can acce e link on www.c cussions s share o y ‘knows’ ab know? i s n i t dis ly od ead ligh stag everyb h do we real at the traffic the R king the Back ntend for the . Some of s a h c c i w y u i re cl how m y does the bo reen? Or ho es? do not les to end he ght offer e W c t c h s a d mi rti W ur win ay we find m ber that y the a e magazine fore even b o y d e g k n o i m w on wip changed the audience me e show, ev articles in th ght pull to the ase, we h t e t s e h u t n r o he c rs mi i Inter at is ted m afte tever t s. Othe he cur Like t dressing roo uncover wh the answer estions. Wha out of the prin e o th reader o the behind ks more qu sue to move nd int ant a goes t ge helps the It takes you s i s e a n e i h m ew agaz the . ant t ta Backs e stage lights rmances and seek to w es of our m ur readers. W ring. o o g e f h ito t r under eyond the pe o society. W e ones pa sciousness of nning. Mon h t t ,b con . Pla scenes ople present e these – xpects Deliberation tion. e , act e k y i p l l l a e re ns Ac g articles he . o s om e n i n i t e n o s v h i o t t e a a u h d o u q n hat val ass t u rea answer y asks, but objective is t o have a E hen yo ou cannot, p each W d t e o h e b l er. t e ab . If y an. If every to answ eaders will b sues. ou can eone who c le, then y y d f i o b r y s m i e , o s ib an articles take on these roject for th cle to s what is pos achieve i t e r h a t d rea the ill me oes ss p holeso nts at d person d ive effort w a don’ts a cla t more w magazine i nalism stude a n c a e ant l he col sible. We w lution edi t our the J M e y n t i i s l of impo nivers et-a-so nd On stitute t the U ine is a the up-till-you-g n a Print a n I t n e artm veea gaz Caribb ication, a dep ough the ma the team gi ude. n h y t tit u l t r Comm est Indies. A effort made b e public a oop e h t e C W h o t t e , h t e a t l n i of the me ilab Soph e. All require on ava course the informati a good grad ollecting g c e to mak ond acquirin ere flexed in as taken Editor y w w e b e m r s a i l c a t g n s goes n r i o appeal t s of jou he utm muscle mation, and t a way that is eates r g s r t i n o i at is and speak the inf t the issues h t : t n n e k, f sile to pres t spea er be aims o
n nev ult. It mus der, the cl r.” a c m s won st fa nali he ai “Jour its greate echoes of re still in t A G –H the and or a virtue tely, while gns of horr ia si immed h and the triump enry
CARIMAC TIMES GOES...
BACKSTAGE ... TAKING A CLOSE LOOK AT SOME SOCIAL ISSUES IN JAMAICA CARIMAC Times is an annual magazine published by the final-year Print and Online Journalism students of the Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC) at The University of the West Indies, Mona. Each year, since 1983, the magazine examines a different theme covering a range of social issues. Past themes included: ‘Women and Poverty’, ‘HIV and AIDS’, ‘Men and Masculinity’, and ‘Financial Literacy’. This year, CARIMAC Times takes its readers behind the scenes in exploring a range of social issues under the theme ‘Backstage’. Among the issues covered are human trafficking, online dating and fraud.
Production Team Corinne Barnes
Volney L. Barrett
Tamara A. Smith Nackeshia Blake Jody-Anne Lawrence
CARIMAC TIMES GOES...
BACKSTAGE ... TAKING A CLOSE LOOK AT SOME SOCIAL ISSUES IN JAMAICA
Behind the curtains
Uncovering health card fraud
Pickney, parenting and pornography
Slaves still among us
Human trafficking: A Jamaican reality
Sense of fashion
e virtual reality of love
Tips for online dating 21
Jamaica’s literacy crisis
CARIMAC TIMES GOES...
BACKSTAGE ... TAKING A CLOSE LOOK AT SOME SOCIAL ISSUES IN JAMAICA
Behind the curtains Survival stories
e dancehall debate rages on
Little people with big dreams struggle to make ends meet
Scammer wants to put 32 money to good use Popping the question
Licences on the go
Prospective drivers shell out big bucks to go ‘legal’
Fraudsters grab funds from unsuspecting cardholders
Erratic condom use continues among young people despite increased awareness
36 14 32
Photo by tamara a. Smith
This young woman prepares to fill a prescription using a health card at a pharmacy in St Andrew.
Uncovering health card fraud By Tamara A. Smith
hEN tERESA Eliot* walked into the doctor’s office that day, she did not have enough money to cover the cost of the visit. But, she sat before the doctor anyway, and explained her ailment. Several questions later, he wrote her a prescription. She told him she had a health card; he looked at the card and then her face, with questioning eyes. her heart leapt as the reason for his expression came out in a question. She struggled to regain her composure but then boldly answered him. he was satisfied with her response. he swiped the card. She left his office, pleased. Pleased, because she had just got away with a crime. Fraud.
Across the world, health care fraud is of major concern. It makes headlines and dominates discussions among policy makers. It is estimated to cost taxpayers US$100 billion annually in the United States; in Europe, fraudsters make off with US$75 billion each year; and in Canada, they pocket US$15 billion for their troubles. type the words ‘health care fraud’ in an internet search engine, and you will be bombarded by results from these countries – news reports, Youtube videos and statements from national groups that have been set up to tackle the problem. You will also find two results from Jamaica. two of the results are about the same issue. they are from the island’s two daily newspapers, the Jamaica
gleaner and the Jamaica Observer. the headline in the Jamaica Observer reads: health Fund Fraud. In the report, published in January 2010, two pharmacies were reported to have been under investigation by the Fraud Squad, the arm of the Jamaica Constabulary Force that specialises in such matters. According to the report, the pharmacies were suspected of padding their bills submitted to the National health Fund (NhF), a government agency that allows its users to access medications at a cheaper cost, and in some cases, free. the head of the Fraud Squad, Superintendent Colbert Edwards, was reported to have said that the practice was “relatively new” to Jamaica. As such, there are no statistics
one visit, covering the full cost, with room to spare. In addition, fraud can encompass many different players in the health-care sector. Sometimes, the professionals are outsmarted. But, other times, they knowingly commit fraud. A general practitioner of 25 years, in a caRIMac times interview, said although he refrained from doing it regularly, there were occasions when he accepted patients with health cards that did not belong to them. ‘GrAve’ SiTuATion “the receptionist usually refers them to me. It is not a problem, but if they are making a habit of it, the receptionist deals with it because we have established fees,” he said. he added that for him to consider accepting a card from an unauthorised card user, the situation would have to be “grave”. “It would have to be like a severely ill child with asthma or pneumonia. It is either I take out my money and give them (unauthorised card users) to buy the medication or I commit fraud. I prefer to commit fraud,” he said, explaining that he referred patients with chronic illnesses to sign up with the NhF, and receive a Government health card. tracy-Ann Palmer*, 47, said it was important that the doctor knows the card does not belong to the
particular individual. “You have to tell the doctor that you are using someone’s card ... What if the cardholder visits the doctor and, on checking the file, he asked about the last time you were there, and if the medication worked. What are you going to say then?” she asked. Palmer said with the doctor onboard, the patient can then proceed to get the prescription in the cardholder’s name. the cardholder’s signature is then forged at the pharmacy. Dionne Whitelocke*, like Palmer, said that when she borrowed a health card, she usually signed the name of the cardholder. She said that the practice was made easy because receptionists rarely ask for identification. She was, however, confronted on one occasion by a receptionist, who knew the cardholder. “She asked if I knew that I am not supposed to use someone’s card and I said, ‘not really’. She told me ‘okay’ but next time, she would not accept it,” she said. Despite her claims of ignorance to that particular receptionist, Whitelocke was indeed aware of the regulations surrounding health cards. Eliot and Palmer are also aware that their actions constitute fraud, but they have their reasons for continuing with this criminal offence. “I don’t think that it is a big deal,” Eliot said. “I can understand that they
NOTICE the use of your health card by unauthorised persons and/or for items other than medical services/prescribed drugs constitutes FRaUD. this may result in the termination of health benefits for the cardholder and/or termination of the provider status for the provider.
available on the extent of the practice in Jamaica. Save for the NhF case, one might think it does not exist. But, as Eliot’s story shows, there is ample breathing room for a sub-sector of health care fraud: health insurance fraud. there is a sign pasted on many doctors’ office walls. It says: “the use of your health card by unauthorised persons and/or for items other than medical services/prescribed drugs constitutes FRAUD. this may result in the termination of health benefits for the cardholder and/or termination of the provider status for the provider.” But this sign is not a deterrent to Eliot. In an interview with caRIMac times, she gave details on how she managed to beat the system. She said that on one particular visit, she had borrowed her cousin’s health card, so she had to carefully plan which doctor she would see. “the doctor that I went to, he didn’t know me and he didn’t know the cardholder [her cousin] so it went smoothly. he asked me some questions and I could answer them,” she said. Eliot said there was, however, a slight bump in the road when the doctor questioned the name on the card. She explained that the doctor was suspicious because he thought the name on the card belonged to someone of Indian descent. “he said to me, you don’t look like an Indian, so how come you have this Indian name. So I said, of course [I am Indian] and I lifted my cap and showed him my hair. And he looked and said okay. that was it. I had my hair in waves, so I looked like an Indian, that alone convinced him,” Eliot said, laughing uncontrollably. there are other ways of beating the system in Jamaica. Cardholders who have dependents are issued a card for themselves and one for each dependent. In some cases, each card guarantees the holder 80 per cent of the cost of one visit. the remaining 20 per cent ought to be paid out-of-pocket. But according to Eliot “an understanding” receptionist can swipe two cards for
(family members and friends) are sick and want to see a private doctor and cannot find the full cost ... It is not easy…” Palmer said: “I know that you are not supposed to do it because it is against the law, but Jamaicans beat every system. So, that won’t stop until Jesus comes. People will always borrow health cards.” Both women added that they continued with their actions because if they did not use up the full annual allotment, the excess would return to the insurance companies. “I know [that it is wrong] but I still do it, because at the end of the year all of the money will go back [to the insurance company] and it won’t be given back. So, I think that it is only fair to finish the amount that is on the card, because I won’t be getting it back,” said 33-year-old Eliot. Eliot, however, aware that what she is doing is wrong, is careful not to go too far. She explained another situation in which she lent her card to a family member, who was in a great deal of pain. “She had pelvic inflammatory disease and … I was really sorry for her. She had no money, so I loaned the card to her so she could visit a doctor. I, however, told her not to fill the prescription. “I was pregnant during that time and I thought that it would show up somehow… if the [health insurance company] were to review my records. they would notice that something went wrong, because a person cannot have pelvic inflammatory disease while they are pregnant and be treated for it,” she said. She has other tricks as well, to avoid getting caught. “When I take a family member to my doctor, I explain to him (doctor) that I would like to use my card. What the doctor does is write whatever the medical condition is, in that person’s file as well as mine. “If he will be writing a prescription for the person, because it is my card, he has to write on my file
Photo by michael ramSey
If a doctor knowingly accepts a health card from an unauthorised user, that doctor can be struck off the insurance company’s provider list. that I received the same medication. Because, if push comes to shove and the insurance company decides to check with the doctor, it would already be written on my file that I received that medication,” she explained. red flAG Despite the care taken by customers like Eliot not to get caught, insurance companies in Jamaica are not oblivious to the fraudulent practices. Nola Phillpotts-Brown, executive manager (customer care, employee benefits division) of Sagicor Life Jamaica Limited, explained why. “typically, utilisation should be around 85 per cent, which means that 85 cents out of every dollar is used to pay claims. [But] for some groups, utilisation is higher than the 85 per cent,” she said. A utilisation rate higher than 85 per cent does not always mean that fraud is being committed. But it does raise a red flag. Phillpotts-Brown explained that when a group used more than 85 per cent, this reduced the insurance
company’s profit of 15 per cent. “And where that happens,” she said, “we would advise the group that the utilisation is high and we would, most times, implement an increase of the premiums for the following anniversary year. So, they end up paying more. this is what we use to recoup loss.” Nevertheless, Phillpotts-Brown told caRIMac times that Sagicor has been moving to stem the unauthorised use of health cards. In one initiative, Sagicor introduced sessions, where group members are informed about the impact of lending their health cards to unauthorised users. “You have people who are abusing their cards by lending it out to others or using it to buy things other than prescriptions ... they are in collusion with the pharmacist who has it down that they got a drug when really and truly they got diapers. “We are also aware that some (members) even sell their cards … they sell the service… basically, [they say]
give me a money and I’ll give you my card,” she said. She added that in the case of providers (doctors, pharmacists, dental or optical facilities) workshops are held and they are encouraged to request identification from patients who present health cards. She said a receptionist would typically ask the patient to confirm his address, date of birth, place of work – all of which is printed on the card. If they stumble when they answer, identification is usually requested. Should the person be able to answer all the questions without stumbling, and is not asked for identification, then this person, although unauthorised, would have successfully ‘beaten the system’. viSiTS inveSTiGATed Phillpotts-Brown added that investigations are also done over the phone; here the cardholder is asked detailed questions about a particular visit to the doctor. “If they are unable to answer the questions correctly, then we know there is a problem. We can recover the money from [the cardholders] from subsequent claims. So, where a claim was submitted and we paid … next month if they have another claim settling … we don’t reimburse them,” she said. Beneficiaries are not the only ones who suffer repercussions when fraud is detected. Phillpotts-Brown also highlighted that if a doctor knowingly accepted a health card from an unauthorised user, that doctor can be struck off the company’s provider list. “We will no longer settle their claims. We can strike off every provider that is on our list, once we have evidence,” she said. Phillpotts-Brown said that ‘evidence’ is usually obtained when the company’s audit team investigates. “We look for patterns of claim … that is how we detect illegal activities. We have a myriad of patterns that we look for. We look for large or unusual claims on somebody’s
record – a person who has always been in perfect health and visits the doctor twice yearly and then this changes to monthly. “the system will pull this out, reject it and ask to check that person. Most people have a pattern, it is either the person has contracted a major disease or there is illegal activity going on,” she said. She said external officers will then go to the provider and ask to see the record of the particular patient. “We have that authority, because they are our approved providers … and once we find illegal activities, we have the authority to go in and check their records.” She said that if on checking the records and information that justified the concern was found, a doctor could among other things, be given a warning or asked to reimburse the amount charged to Sagicor. She explained that investigations were conducted weekly. On average, 10 doctors were asked to reimburse the company each month. this number is less than one per cent of the company’s 1700 providers. Meanwhile, research by the USbased Coalition Against Insurance Fraud revealed that the majority of Americans felt that health care fraud was justified, and that premiums would rise with or without this practice. the sentiment appears to be similar in Jamaica. “Yes, it is fraud, but sometimes people are suffering and if they are in need and have no money, and I can help them, I am going to help. I [also] don’t want the insurance company to get back the money,” Palmer said. n * Names changed.
‘Yes, it is fraud, but sometimes people are suffering and if they are in need and have no money, and I can help them, I am going to help.’
PHOTO By AnIkA RICHARDS
A group of schoolchildren pose for a shot after a long day at school.
Pickney, parenting and pornography By Anika richards
wenTy-four-year-old wilhelm Jennings* received his first cellular phone at age 16, while in the tenth grade at a boysâ€™ school in Kingston, Jamaica. with his new handheld gadget came the freedom to browse the internet, which fed his thirst for pornographic content. after much pleading, his parents had decided to get him that trendy, slick, brilliant cellular phone so they could contact him whenever necessary â€“ but, there was another side to the script. They also placed the world at his
fingertips. “my cellular phone had internet capabilities so i visited pornographic sites. i was always on my cellular phone. This was not my first time viewing [pornographic] content though, because i had been sneaking into [exotic clubs] from as early as age 15,” said Jennings. “however, it was the first time i could view this type of content in plain sight.” Jennings said his parents were oblivious to his activities. whenever they asked him about his continuous use of his cellular phone, he would tell them he was sending text messages to his friends, and this would suffice. “They did not suspect anything, but most of the times i hid and used my cellular phone, because i am a very secretive person,” Jennings shared. if someone approached while Jennings was on a pornographic website, he would cover the screen of the cellular phone or place it face-down. in recent times, a wave of filming and subsequent distribution of child pornography, whether via the internet or cellular phones, has hit Jamaica. in response, in September 2009 the Government passed The Child Pornography act, criminalising the production, possession, or circulation of this type of content involving children. according to dr anthea edalerehenderson, acting coordinator/lecturer of the Graduate unit at the Caribbean institute of media and Communication (CarimaC), university of the west indies, mona, it is hard to state definitely to what extent children are exposed to pornography since they are not usually the subject of research. “years ago one
PhotoS by anika richardS
A girl gets ready to unleash the world of information that a simple tap on the keypad of a cellphone brings to her fingertips. normally thought of the Playboy magazine as a well-known source. But, of course, decades ago, there were other sources as well,” said edalerehenderson. “Because we are in a digital era, the opportunities to be exposed have increased exponentially, especially given the fact that producers of such content have devious and crafty ways of floating such images and messages onto people’s PCs [personal computers], laptops, and cell phones.” “insofar as the impact of digital technology on the exposure to porn, my guess is that it would be significant, but hard to measure,” continued edalerehenderson.
She further explained that exposure can mean anything from a casual glance that could not have been avoided, to the sharing of indecent photos between friends or children watching ‘blue movies’ on a regular basis on television, because parents or guardians are frequently absent. “i think more children are being confronted by these images, here in Jamaica and in other developing and developed societies, than ever before,” said edalere-henderson. although the Child Pornography act does not explicitly speak to the production, possession, or circulation of pornographic material involving children by children, the public education specialist at the office of the Children’s registry, assumes that children are also included. “at the moment, we do not have statistics that is specific to children’s exposure to pornographic content since we do not have a category for that, only one for reports of sexual abuse,” said Trevesa daSilva-ashman. “however, i suppose with The Child Pornography
act, we will have to designate a category for children’s exposure to pornography.” Jennings’ access to pornography may have been limited to his cellular phone then, but today, he has a collection of pornographic digital video discs (dVds) along with a mini-player, to use at his leisure. “i believe i am a better person today because of my early exposure. Because i was acquainted at an early age through these videos and images, i learned how to appreciate the female body and knew that i wanted to be with a woman and not a man,” he said. edalere-henderson, who is also a parent, said she occasionally worries, but it is not an abiding concern because her teenaged and preteen boys have not given her the impression they desire to consume pornographic material. however, she admits that parents always want to protect their children from every evil, but suggests, among other things, that leading by example is often a good way to impress principles and values upon children. “one simple answer is to exercise integrity in our own choices. media literate parents tend to bring up media literate children. if we sneak a peek at Playboy occasionally, then we should not get irate if our teenage son or daughter does also,” said edalerehenderson. “Parents should also talk about as much of media’s content as possible – what’s on TV, what’s on popular websites, the messages and framing in magazines, etc. an overall interest and vigilance over what our children watch and enjoy is key,” she continued. “Parents also need to explain to children – especially older ones – why pornography is bad. Sometimes parents neglect to engage in these kinds of discussions because of a general discomfort about why is pornography wrong,” highlighted edalerehenderson. “Children and adolescents should be helped to understand that pornography presents a distorted, sick, fetishistic and addictive perspective of sex; that it degrades sex and destroys an
‘Parents also need to explain to children – especially older ones – why pornography is bad. Sometimes, parents neglect to engage in these kinds of discussions because of a general discomfort about why is pornography wrong.’ individual’s ability to cherish a sexual partner as worthy, beautiful and respectable. Pornography focuses on a debased act of sex, whereas sexual intercourse is supposed to represent an intimate celebration in a monogamous relationship. Parents should explain the difference between the two,” she said. edalere-henderson said if a child is already exposed to, and is already desirous of pornographic content though, parents should deal with them firmly and wisely, setting clear rules. She also pointed out that pornography exposure can also lead to addiction and that if this is the case, counselling may be necessary, and parents should avoid shaming or rejecting the child. however, at least one parent believes that early exposure to pornography prepares children for the world. “my children used to hide and watch porn on television and whenever we get home they change the channel quickly,” said 50-year-old mark anthony Tulloch, a father of eight children whose ages range from 17 to 27 years. “They used to hide and view this [type of] content on their cellular phones too, but i think it is a good thing. now, they even share the content they are viewing with me. “when children are exposed to these things, whenever they enter the world, they are aware of things and cannot be easily fooled,” said Tulloch. “They already know about these taboo issues and are better prepared to tackle any situation they are presented with.” moreover, as innovations and advancements continue to be made in
technology, accessibility increases for pornographic content. in fact, a simple Google search on a handset with internet capabilities for ‘porn mobile sites’ will lead to results such as: www.naughty.com, www.yankmobile.com, mobile.pornhub.com, www.phonerotica.com, www.p-adult.com and other more explicit results. after accessing these websites, one simply has to agree or disagree to a disclaimer that prompts the user to enter if they are 18 years or older and if viewing pornographic content is legal in their country. a single click on ‘enter’ then transports the individual into the portal of all things pornographic. all these are accessible to cellular phone holders with an internet connection. Barring an internet connection, cellular phone users who wish to view pornographic content still can. in fact, Bluetooth capability, multimedia messaging as well as the ability to connect a cellular phone to a computer with internet connection, also allows individuals to download and store pornographic content on cellular phones for replay. however, Jennings complained that using internet connection to view pornographic content on a cellular phone has a limitation in terms of the type of content that is viewable. Jennings could only access images and not streaming videos; but as the technology associated with cellular phones continue to evolve, more graphic and explicit pornographic content become accessible. n
still among us By nackeshia Blake
maGine BrowSinG through the classifieds, skimming through the slim pickings of a globally depressed economy. your eye comes across an advertisement that looks promising. you scan through quickly. They are offering job placements in the Caribbean and the united States, no out-of-pocket expenses until your first pay cheque. you smile widely. This is a dream come true. On the day of your departure, you charter a taxi to the airport. You top up your prepaid phone at one of the duty free shops â€” you will need to call home upon your arrival to let them know you are safe. You take one last look through the glass doors, and then head to join the check-in line. After the long process of customs, you settle into your seat on the Boeing 747. As the voice of the air hostess comes on over the speakers, giving instructions about seat belts and cellular phones, you drift into a happy daze, thrilled
that you will finally be able to provide for yourself and your family. Several hours later, you reach your destination. there is someone there to pick you up as promised. he takes you to a house, and shows you to an empty room with a bed inside. he offers to take your bags. You step inside to examine the room, and suddenly, the door closes and a key turns in the lock. Although the above scenario is fictional, it mirrors the reality of the experiences of many women who have been caught in the web of human trafficking. human trafficking, dubbed modern day slavery, involves the recruitment, transportation, harbouring and sale of human beings for the purpose of exploitation. Jennifer Williams of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs in Jamaica says victims are usually women and children who are either enticed or forced into being taken from Jamaica to another country, where they are put to work, usually in prostitution. the phenomenon is not new to the world, nor is it confined to any particular area. the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) says that every country is affected; some may be destinations, others are recruitment centres, others serve both purposes. According to the website, most destination countries are the wealthier nations of the world, and recruitment occurs in poorer nations. the UNODC estimates that the practice is more prevalent in the Americas. however, at any one time, there may be as many as 2.4 million victims worldwide. MAny fAceS According to the UNODC, human trafficking can manifest in many ways, including forced prostitution or other sexual exploitation, forced labour, and forced begging. these many faces make human trafficking hard to pinpoint. Moreover, it can seem legitimate, because the activities of human trafficking are
sometimes masked by businesses, such as job placement agencies. Victims are usually offered better jobs, attractive salaries, and large sums of cash. Within the last decade however, more evidence of the practice has come to light, and efforts to combat the practice have been reinforced. the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons was put forward in 2000. It has since been adopted by 115 member states. Jamaica is one of the signatories. Vivia Betton, director of the International health Corporation, says in Jamaica, human trafficking is more prevalent in the parishes of St. James, Westmoreland and Clarendon. GirlS AucTioned She added that there have been suspected cases of sexual exploitation in private homes and massage parlours. And, according to Reverend Margaret Fowler, it appears to be increasing, especially in the tourist resort areas. Fowler is the founder of the theodora Foundation, which helps young, disadvantaged girls. She told caRIMac times that some years ago, young girls were being ‘auctioned’ in Culloden, a town in Westmoreland, Jamaica. According to Fowler, the police received information of the activity and intervened. the practice has since lulled. She also shared stories of girls who have been caught in the web of human trafficking. She says some of the girls were promised jobs in Jamaica and other Caribbean Islands. however, upon reaching the promised destination, their travel documents were taken away and they were forced to work as exotic dancers. She said when one of the girls tried to stop working, demanded answers and wanted to return to her home in Jamaica, she was told to pay US$5000 for her freedom. According to Fowler, the girl was unable to pay the money and had to continue working in harsh conditions before
eventually being able to pay for her release. While women are disproportionately affected by human trafficking, men are not in the clear. A study by Dunn and Ricketts, titled Human Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation and Forced Labour in Jamaica, identified both men and women as victims. the study found that most men were lured by the promise of jobs overseas. For example, one man was promised a job as a bank clerk in a Caribbean island. feMAle perpeTrATorS While most victims of human trafficking are women, according to the UNODC 2008 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, most of the perpetrators are also women. In addition, the report found that most perpetrators were of the same nationality as the victim, and in some cases, were known to the victim. the report also identified an emerging trend, where victims, once they escape, are themselves becoming perpetrators. the study by Ricketts and Dunn also noted the difficulty of finding information on the practice, a complaint that was also present in the UNODC report. “It was very difficult to identify and get to victims, even though the incidence of human trafficking does exist in the area. this is because of the nature of the issue and the dangers associated with it,” the study said. Despite the challenges, the Government of Jamaica has taken steps to reduce the occurrence of human trafficking. trafficking in persons was made an illegal activity under the trafficking in Persons Act of 2007, and prosecutions have been taking place. “Over the last two years, eight suspected cases of trafficking in persons were successfully investigated and placed before the courts. there have been five raids since the start of , resulting in 22 persons being interviewed and four arrests,” Betton told caRIMac times. In addition, according to information on the ruling Jamaica Labour Party’s (JLP) website,
‘My abductor told me that I was his slave and I had to do all the work he told me to. When I was 12, he said he wanted to sleep with me. I could not refuse because I was a slave. I had to do everything he wanted, or he could have killed me.’ – teStimony from human trafficking victim, aS quoted by the bbc (march 16, 2007)
Mathematics, English Language, Computer Science – in which they have the opportunity to sit the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate subjects. “this type of positive engagement and re-socialisation in society can only prove beneficial to the girls. they have gone through many ordeals and are in need of care and something positive to occupy their minds,” says Fowler, who opened the foundation four years ago.
If the fight against human trafficking in Jamaica is to continue, Ricketts and Dunn suggest that one of the areas that have to be tackled is public education. “[the Government should] expand public education and sensitisation programmes in schools, churches, in communities and in the media to increase awareness and reduce risks to vulnerable groups,” the pair said in their report. Ricketts and Dunn also suggested that the process of public education be incorporated into programmes for children’s rights, and gender and development programmes. In addition, they argue that the Government ought to “support initiatives to promote gender equality at the highest level of decision-making to encourage economic, social and political equality by 2030. According to Ricketts and Dunn, this will reduce women’s vulnerability to human trafficking. In April 2010, Mexico became the first country to launch its national version of the United Nations ‘Blue heart’ campaign against human trafficking. Speaking at the launch, president of Mexico, Felipe Calderon said: “We have to act now in raising awareness in the whole of society. We have to act now with the determination to put an end to inhuman practices which turn people into merchandise, because human beings are not, and cannot, be for sale.” n
BewAre of HuMAn TrAffickinG Be sure to take extra precautions if:
You come across a job opportunity that sounds too good to be true. It usually is.
You are guaranteed to earn an unusually large sum of money in a short period of time.
The job requires that you be of a certain sex, and be ‘good-looking’ with a ‘sexy’ figure.
It is unimportant that you have skills or qualifications.
The employer refuses to give you details about your workplace or your job description.
The prospective employer offers to pay your travel expenses and provide free accommodation.
Your prospective employer offers to keep your travel documents ‘safe’.
in November 2008, two men were convicted and sentenced to 12 months’ imprisonment for conspiracy to traffic persons, including a 14-year-old girl. In addition, also in 2007, the Government established a toll free line, 1-888-PROtECt, which serves as the first point of contact for victims of trafficking who want to make a report or seek help. the number is managed by the National Children’s Registry. Despite the gains, there is more to be done. the American Strategic Interventions, a regulatory body which sets standards and expectations for the treatment of victims of human trafficking, states that “safe, voluntary and timely repatriation of victim must be ensured. Integrated rehabilitation and reintegration facilities must also be in place for victims.” In recognition of this, Vivia Betton told caRIMac times that the Jamaican Government has pledged to establish three state-run shelters for victims of human trafficking. When complete, the facilities should provide accommodation, counselling services and medical care. however, no date for completion has yet been established. But private facilities have already opened their doors. the theodora foundation is one such organisation. theodora’s home offers counselling for victims of human trafficking. In addition, victims are also offered free classes in three subject areas –
$ en $ e of
Fashion Photo by Penny matthewS
Little support for Jamaican fashion industry By rebekah watson
ridGeT. PoShe. Catch a fire. The Pulse Group. Saint international. nadine willis. Kimberley mais. These are some of the Jamaican designers, model agencies and models, who are trying to leave their footprints on the world of fashion. But, with the prevalence of ‘foreignitis’ among Jamaicans, and limited government support, they might have an easier time trying to leave prints in dried concrete. in 2003, Gary Codner, designer and marketing manager for Cooyah, a Jamaican brand, said: “Seven out of 10 Jamaicans can only associate themselves with things that are overseas inclined. That is how they feel they look good."
in recognition of this tendency, the Jamaica manufacturer’s association (Jma) launched the ‘Buy Jamaica, Build Jamaica’ campaign in 2004. The ongoing campaign promotes the buying of locally produced goods and services with the goal of improving the Jamaican economy. Two years after its launch, the The Gleaner published an article in which the Jma called the campaign a success according to a survey they had done. it had found that 79 per cent of Jamaicans were more inclined to buy Jamaican products after the campaign. Some industries, such as agriculture, have reaped some benefits from this new mindset. But for other industries, like fashion, if there was indeed a change of heart amongst Jamaicans, the results are yet to be seen.
The international fashion industry is one of the world’s largest generators of income. according to rankings from interbrand – a leading brand consultancy and author of The Best Global Brands Report, 14 fashion houses ranked among the top 100 global brands in the world in 2009. The list includes giants such as Coca Cola, iBm, and mcdonald’s. MeGA eArninGS of the 14 fashion brands that made the list, none of them had a brand worth less than uS$3 billion. By comparison, GraceKennedy, one of Jamaica’s more successful companies, has a net worth that is one-third of that value. in addition, the best ranked fashion-based business, Gucci, had a net worth of more than half the value of all the goods and services produced in Jamaica (gross domestic product or GdP) for 2009, which was uS$12 billion. a 2005 Gleaner article quoted Kingsley Cooper, one of Jamaica’s fashion pioneers and chief executive officer of Pulse, as saying: "we live in the period of the greatest ever promise for the Caribbean fashion industry..." in the same story, conservative estimates valued the Caribbean’s fashion industry at uS$200 million annually. incomes accruing to models for their work added uS$20 million to that figure. in addition, Cooper said the fashion industry had the potential to create employment, not only in the areas of modelling and model management, but also in fashion design, sales and marketing, graphic design, magazine and catalogue production, and other areas. in other words, the local fashion industry has the potential to make great contributions to Jamaica’s GdP earnings. But this potential remains untapped. earl ‘Biggy’ Turner, a Jamaican designer, described the fashion industry, in a 2006 The Gleaner article, as "a bunch of talented people doing things individually”.
andré rowe, founder of the label Casa de a’rowe, thinks this is because the Government is not doing enough to help develop the Jamaican fashion industry. “i think if the Government and the university councils stepped in and created degrees for students leaving high schools wanting to pursue fashion, the country would [have a] steady flow with true fashion designers,” he said. There is some government support for the industry. This comes from the Jamaica fashion and apparel Cluster. according to its website, www.jamaicafashioncluster.com, the Jamaica fashion and apparel Cluster was formed in 2008 to “facilitate the growth and development of new and existing micro, small and medium enterprises in the [fashion and apparel] industry”. GloBAliSATion The group is one of the initiatives under the Private Sector development Programme (PSdP). launched in 2004, the PSdP is a five-year technical assistance programme designed to support Jamaican businesses while they adjust to the changes brought on by globalisation. it was funded by the Government of Jamaica and the european union to the tune of €26 million. The PSdP ended in 2009, but the cluster continues to operate. The cluster provides people in the fashion industry with access to funding, events-management guidance and other forms of support. funding is especially helpful to newbies in the fashion industry who do not have the start-up capital. The Jamaica Trade and invest (JTi) is another government agency that has recognised the potential of the Jamaican fashion industry. in 2010, the Creative industries unit at the JTi made a bid for Jamaican designers to showcase their designs at the twelfth staging of the lG fashion week Beauty, one of Canada’s premier fashion events. The JTi had hoped Jamaican
fashion designers and models would have had one night dedicated solely to their work, so that Jamaican couture could gain the attention of the fashion elite, buyers and potential investors. however, the bid did not go through. in spite of these government initiatives, some players in the industry say it is not enough. “we need money,” said ariane Collman, a Jamaican model. “more money is needed to flesh out the many wonderful ideas the local agencies have. without proper funding, productions look lacklustre and cheap, and people become turned off by the presentation. [They] deem it unworthy of their attention.” More TrAininG needed Collman also said entrepreneurs in the local fashion industry lacked Photo by rebekah watSon marketing and general business skills. A model prepares for a shoot with her photographer. “without the proper training, they will be taken for granted and outsmarted by those who know better,” more of a choice in what type of model “family-like and take a greater interest she said. you would like to become, whether in you because you matter to them”. Collman, who first entered the commercial, high fashion or both. This is unlike overseas-based agencies, modelling business via the local There are other things working which can replace models at any time. She said that Jamaica has the market, said the underdevelopment of against the development of the local Jamaica’s fashion industry became fashion industry. Things that have little potential to do big things in the fashion evident to her while attending ‘go sees’ to do with government funding or a industry, but there are a few missing elements. overseas. during a ‘go see’, a model lack of training facilities. Casmar James, another Jamaican Collman thinks that Jamaican visits different designers to try and sell model, shared similar sentiments. he models need to pay more attention to them their ‘look’ for print campaigns or how they carry themselves in foreign said the Government needs to runway shows. environments. “many of the models implement policies that will foster the “The local agencies are striving to who leave our shores do not know how growth and development of the mirror those overseas but they have a to speak and represent themselves and industry. Too many people, he said, pay bit of work to do,” she said. the country in the best light. little attention to what could be a major She added that there are fewer jobs industry for Jamaica, contributing to BeTTer MArkeTinG locally and the jobs are rarely in ‘high “we also need better publicity and GdP earnings. fashion’. high fashion, or haute marketing, as that would increase “Currently, the cluster of fashion couture, are custom-made designs, for awareness of the fact that there is a apparel is tackling the issue of fashion specific clients; fabrics are typically market in Jamaica – and a good one at development, but it needs more more expensive than those used in that – for fashion,” she said. “improve- assistance to grow [at a] faster [rate],” commercial designs, which are aimed ments are being made though, especially at the mass market. models are paid by Pulse and Saint international he said. “i guess, eventually, the industry more to wear haute couture designs. with Caribbean fashionweek and in Jamaica will grow [without any according to Collman, “if you Styleweek respectively, but these government assistance], but it would remain in Jamaica, you are likely to get are private entities,” Collman added. limited exposure to the world of despite these shortcomings, grow lot faster with some help and modelling and probably will not make Collman finds that working in the local more ‘Brand Jamaica’ awareness in that much money either.” She also said industry has some advantages. She said terms of fashion,” James said. “our that in the international industry, you that Jamaican agencies, because they country has to matter to us first, before meet more diverse people and have operate on a smaller scale, are more it can matter to anyone else.” n
Photo by amilt
By rebekah watson
Et US state facts. According to the Statistical Institute of Jamaica, the rate of marriages in Jamaica has steadily declined over the years. But Jamaica is not alone in this trend. Studies show that worldwide, fewer people are getting married, and more people are getting divorced. For 50-year-old Gloria Phillips, a Jamaican divorcee, these facts make her want to have as many options as possible for finding the right partner. her solution? Online dating. “I did it once the traditional way and look where that got me.” Phillips said. “Besides,” she added, “I have had it with Jamaican men – they are too
e virtual reality of love aggressive. I have found that if I meet with someone from a different country, we mesh better. Online dating is the perfect way to meet people.” Online dating, also known as Internet dating, is a dating system which allows individuals, couples and groups to make contact and communicate with each other over the Internet, usually with the objective of developing a personal, romantic or sexual relationship.
there are many sites to choose from in the online dating arena. Some are dedicated to people with similar interests. Others deal with genetic issues, such as tall people interested in meeting other tall people. there are also some, like www.eharmony.com and www.chemistry.com, which, according to them, are dedicated to the science of finding the perfect mate. Eharmony.com was created by
comic by biSh
clinical psychologists Dr Neil Warren and Dr Galen Buckwalter. the two say they have identified “the key dimensions of personality”, which predict compatibility with a person and the chances of having a successful relationship with them. they have patented their 29 Dimensions® of compatibility technique. According to the website, most people know what the key to success in a long-term relationship is – compatibility. “But what does that mean?” the website asks. “If you and your new mate both like foreign movies and mocha ice cream, will you still feel the magic in 25 years?” the eharmony website says it matches singles based on a deeper level of compatibility, not just likes and dislikes. the system, it says, helps users find mates “that are truly right for [them].” Phillips is a member of eharmony and Chemistry.com. According to her, the websites have been the most effective in her search for true love and compatibility. “It is just completely gratifying when you find someone who is on the same level as you are. Online dating takes the stress out of dating, because it’s like I get to take a test drive without actually being in the vehicle. If the chemistry isn’t there, I’d know before we ended up on a date that both of us soon realise is going nowhere,” she said. Some people though, are not believers in online dating. Courtney Greene, a 19-year-old university student, said people who see online dating as a viable option for meeting a potential mate are “desperate”. “I honestly would not participate in online dating unless I was absolutely desperate for a boyfriend or husband.
No E-HARMoNY? No FACEBooK? HoW DID YoU AND GRANDMA EVER MANAGE To MEET EACH oTHER? ‘Desperate’ meaning 50 years old and unmarried. “I believe it is a crutch for those who are insecure and scared to go into the world and start a real relationship, with real people,” she said. Phillips disagrees with Greene. “I know many people probably think online dating is for old people, but that is not true. I know a young couple that met online. [they] recently got married. they are both 25 years old and both of them tried the traditional way of meeting people and found it got them undesirable [results], so they decided to open their minds and try to approach the dating game in a new way,” Phillips said. Lia Clarke, a 21-year-old student at the University of the West Indies, Mona, does not see online dating as a farfetched notion for someone her age. Clarke is in a relationship with someone that she met online, on the popular social networking site, Facebook. “the guy commented on a picture of me on Facebook, saying that I was pretty and he would like to [meet]
‘Online dating takes the stress out of dating, because it’s like I get to take a test drive without actually being in the vehicle. If the chemistry isn’t there, I’d know before we ended up on a date that both of us soon realise is going nowhere.’
sometime. A long conversation started under the picture and we eventually moved it (the conversation) to messenger. We would speak every night. I found him to be extremely funny and charming. We then exchanged numbers (he lives in another country) and sometimes he calls me and sometimes I call him; we have video chats. “I keep the relationship going because although I have never seen him in person, I think our relationship is stronger because of it. I can talk to him about anything – things that I cannot talk to some people about face-to-face. he helps me with school, with anything, whenever he can. In the summer of 2010, we are arranging to have our first face-to-face meeting. I cannot wait,” Clarke said. Phillips, who has been perusing online dating for the past two years, said giving online dating a try could be one of the best things a person could do for himself or herself. “People will tell you it is dangerous, but everything in life is dangerous if you think about it,” Phillips said. “You need to live a little. Choose a reputable site if you are weary. Giving yourself a greater chance of love is a gift. I promise you that if you find the person, you will not regret [doing it],” she advised. n
Whether you're off on your first blind date set up by a friend or you found your love interest online, your personal safety should always be priority # 1. The following guidelines will help ensure your safety:
DO remain anonymous until you feel safe and ready to explore other options. Tip: If a person provides his or her phone number early in the email exchange, that doesn't obligate you to use it or send yours. DO be careful when using a sexy name. Tip: Keep in mind that while using sexual connotations in your email address or user name might get you noticed, it probably won't attract the sort of person you'd like to share a relationship with â€“ or even a conversation for that matter. DO use a current picture and be truthful in your description of yourself in your profile. Tip: Misleading descriptions or photos can result in angry feelings and can end a relationship before it begins. In the long run, honesty is your best relationship tool. DO trust your gut. Tip: Immediately quit corresponding if you feel unsafe or threatened. DO keep a record of your conversations. Tip: Remember to save your emails and IMs for future reference.
Photo by youlanda henry
By youlanda Henry
ONY* UNLEAShED the length of his tongue at the conductor as he stumbled from the number 46 bus. he hated the way bus conductors acted when a man begged a ride. It was embarrassing. And infuriating. “My temper was bad,” he said, chuckling. “Any little thing you said to me could get me off. It used to get me into a lot of trouble.” tony sighed. he seemed to be saddened by this memory, but continued with his story. tony explained that when he went to seek employment at the Jamaica Grande hotel in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, he was told to open a bank account. he went to the credit union to get copies of the documents he needed to complete. he would come back another day to open the account. that day, all he wanted were the forms. As tony stood in the doorway, looking for a way in, he spotted a security guard and thought that was his best bet. he strolled over, trying to seem normal and asked the guard for the documents. the guard directed him to a desk with a sign hung over it. tony said he assumed the sign read ‘Customer Service’. But he did not know for sure – he could not tell. tony is one of the more than quarter million Jamaicans who cannot read or write at a level that allows them to operate in the world. the Central Intelligence Agency Factbook reported that in 2008, Jamaica’s literacy rate stood at 88 per cent. tony was a sickly child and missed school often in his younger years. As he grew stronger and started to attend school, he said he found that there was no emphasis on education. he grew up in rural Jamaica. According to tony, in those days, education was on the sidelines. “On Fridays,” he explained, “we never went
Broken SySTeM that crisis has its foundation in the way Jamaica’s education system is designed. Passage from primary to the secondary school is automatic. Every child that takes the Grade Six Achievement test (GSAt) at the end of their primary school life, is placed in a secondary school – regardless of his or her test scores. there is no qualification to sit the GSAt despite the existence of a grade four literacy test (GFLt), which tests whether or not students have mastered the designated level of literacy. A child who takes the GFLt can achieve one of three grades: mastery, near mastery and non-mastery. But regardless of his score, he will progress to grade five, then six, and on to sit the GSAt.
‘A nuff opportunity pass me in a my life [because] me couldn’t read.’ In 2000, the Government of Jamaica began a series of programmes to revamp the education system. the aim was to ensure every child of school age had a place in high school. Reforms continued, in keeping with two United Nations mandates: Education For All, and the Literacy Initiative For Empowerment. these two initiatives are summed up in Millennium Development Goal number two, which
aims to achieve universal primary education. Several schools were built. the primary school curriculum was revamped; new textbooks were written; reading books became more colourful; music, art, physical education and Spanish were added to the curriculum. the Ministry of Education developed a new language policy looking at the influence of Jamaican Creole – the country’s natural language – on the learning of English, the official language. But in all these improvements, throughout the reign of two education ministers, nothing was done to halt the slide of thousands of children into non-literacy. Until now. cHAnGeS In August 2009, the country’s third education minister since 2000, Andrew holness, announced that the Grade Four Literacy test (GFLt) will be used as the standard test for literacy. this means that no child will be allowed to sit the GSAt without first having achieved mastery in the grade four literacy test.
Photo by youlanda henry
These children were seen in their uniform playing at a bus stop several hours after school was dismissed.
to school.” tony said that at the time, many children stopped going to school after grade nine – at the end of junior high school – unless they were “bright enough” to have passed the Common Entrance examination in grade six to attend a high school which went up to grade 11. tony came to a pause in his story. he said he thinks things are different now and that these days people understand the difficulty they will face if they are unable to read and write. he said he is sure that the problem of illiteracy affects just the ‘older folks’. But that is not so. Every year, the primary school system in Jamaica produces thousands of functionally non-literate graduates. these children may recognise some words and may be able to read simple sentences, but they lack the comprehension skills and the vocabulary that will allow them to function in everyday life. In October 2009, the gleaner carried a report with the headline, ‘10,000 illiterates placed in first form’. In the article, Audrey Sewell, chief educational officer in the Ministry of Education, said, “As far as the Ministry of Education is concerned, we have accepted that there is a crisis.”
“Literacy is the key to unlocking the cage of human misery, the key to delivering the potential of every human being, the key to opening up a future of freedom and hope” - Kofi Anan Under the new policy, students who fail to achieve mastery at the first sitting of the test will be promoted to grade five, but must take the test again – and achieve mastery – before being allowed to sit the GSAt. they will have four chances: in June during their grade four year; in December in their grade four year; in June and December in their grade five year. Speaking at a town hall meeting at the University of the West Indies Assembly hall in 2009, Minister of Education Andrew holness said that students who failed to achieve mastery after these four sittings would not be allowed to sit the GSAt. this means they will not be placed into a secondary school. Minister holness disclosed that a system of alternative secondary education (ASE) would be devised for these students. to date, he has not given details on ASE. there are other concerns about the Minister’s announcement. Although it means the secondary schools will no longer receive non-literate students from the primary schools, there is no guarantee the primary school system will cease to produce them. According to some teachers at the primary school level, even with the improvement, the situation remains imperfect; teachers say it would be best for the students to remain at their grade level until they have attained competence at that particular level before being promoted. But, speaking
in defense of the policy, Minister holness said research showed that “it was better to preserve a child’s self esteem by promoting him through the system.” flAwed reASoninG Nevertheless, according to teachers at two primary schools in Portmore, St Catherine, that thinking is flawed. According to Keisha Martin, a grade three teacher at the Bridgeport Primary School, when children are promoted without having mastered the previous levels’ work, it makes classroom management more complex. teaching has to be segmented in such a way so as to allow for the stronger students to progress, but some provisions have to be made to accommodate weaker students, so they can catch up, Martin explained. however,
Martin says although the ministry may have preferred to adopt the optimal approach, the lack of resources available to the education ministry would make it impossible. She said that in her grade three class, she did not have enough desks and chairs at the start of the year. Because of this, sometimes tables that should seat four, seated six. When she was interviewed in late October 2009, she said the reading materials promised to schools at the start of the school year were yet to be delivered, contrary to news reports in the national media. cHAoTic Sandra Brown is another teacher at the Bridgeport Primary School. She has taught at the grade five level, but is now teaching grade four students. She says that when students were promoted to her class having not passed the GFLt “it was chaos”. “the material is more comprehensive,” she explained, “and without having mastered basic skills, it becomes hell.” She added that in the current school year, there are children in her class who are reading at the pre-prim and primer levels. Pre-prim and Primer are levels of literacy. the Ministry of Education defines these levels, in part, by a child’s ability to identify a predefined list of words. there is a specific list for each level. the child should demonstrate that he or
e l tt
she understands language used in various settings, and should be able to communicate using the adequate vocabulary. Some of the words on the grade four list, on which the students are tested in the GFLt, include pronouns like ‘she’ and ‘I’ as well as nouns like ‘car’ and ‘friend’. But Brown says that there are some students in her grade four class who do not recognise these words. MeASurinG liTerAcy Angella Francis, a recent graduate of the University of the West Indies, Mona, who teaches reading at the Bridgeport Primary School, says there are some students, who at grade six, the end of their primary school life, cannot identify these words – words designated as pre-prim and primer. She said that as a student in the department of education at the UWI, she often blamed the problem of low student achievement on teachers. But, after entering the school system, she has thrown that notion through the window. “You wouldn’t understand,” she said. “When a child comes to you, you have to be more than a teacher; you have to be mother, guidance counsellor... too many things going on in the homes and the communities. Sometimes they are just plain hungry, and it affects their ability to learn,” she explained. Francis related one of her experiences in the system in the hope of making the situation clearer. At the time of the interview, she was
organising a reading fair. In the preliminary conversation she had with her students to assess the situation, she found that many of them had no reading material at home. No one read to many of them either. however, many of the kids without books were owners of video game consoles. Parents, Francis emphasises therefore, are a big part of the literacy equation. “[Literacy] begins at home,” she said, adding that there are some students whose homework, for example, never gets done. “Where are the parents in these homes?” she asked. pArenTS pArT of equATion teachers at the two Portmore schools visited had a flurry of stories about their encounters with parents. One teacher at the Gregory Park Primary school shared the story of a student who lived in a household where the parents were separated. She said that whenever the child was at the mother’s house, it was obvious: her uniforms were never ironed, her shoes were always dirty; her grades and her attention in the classroom plummeted. When the child was at the father’s house, however, she was a model student. She was attentive in class, well-groomed, homework was always completed. this ding-dong situation, however, hurt the child’s overall progress, and she lagged behind the class. the teacher also gave another side to the story.
“Sometimes the parents themselves don’t know better,” she said. She added that on one occasion, one mother thundered into her classroom, demanding that she stop “forcing har pickni fi learn”. the parent said she had never learned much in school, and she was managing life alright. curSe But tony, who spent much of his adult life being unable to read, said he would wish the curse of illiteracy on no one. “A nuff opportunity pass me ina my life [because] me couldn’t read,” he says. “Nuff time when me used to work in the hotel and me up for promotion, I have to resign, [because] executive chef have to read the menu and write up the thing dem.” “If them know wah good fi dem, dem wi take een dem lesson,” tony said. Keisha Martin, the grade three teacher at the Bridgeport Primary School, said that if ministry officials want to arrest the problem of literacy, more has to be done to involve teachers in the policy-making process. She said, for example, she heard about the new Grade Four Literacy policy on the evening news. “I don’t think they (policy makers) know what actually goes on in the schools,” she said. “they need to actually come and see for themselves. then we will get better policies.” n *Name changed.
g i b
y n n fu
Photo by nackeShia blake
Children hanging out at about 10 pm in new kingston.
By nackeshia Blake
stories Little people with big dreams struggling to make ends meet on the streets
hE StREEtS of Kingston, Jamaica, mean different things to different people. For some, they are mere connecting points, ferrying hundreds of sports utility vehicles and thousands of pedestrians between home and work daily. For others, Kingstonâ€™s streets are the place of choice to conduct profitable businesses. But for many children, these streets are home. Jamaicaâ€™s ratification of the United Nations (UN)
Conventions on the Rights of the Child guarantees every child approximately 40 rights. Among them are: the right to be protected by special measures if needs be; the right to access education; the right to be protected from child labour; and the right to develop their personalities, abilities and talents, and to do so in an environment of love and understanding. the Child Care and Protection Act also makes provisions to protect the rights of Jamaican children. Established in 2004, it gives
no SpAce the circumstances in which street children find themselves denies them their basic rights. Government officials struggle with a complexity of issues related to the problem. Chief among the constraints is a lack of institutional space to house street children. there are 60 facilities in Jamaica for the safekeeping of homeless children or youngsters who are otherwise at-risk. Most of these facilities are privately operated. Avery Nelson, of the Access to Information Department of the Child Development Agency (CDA), says the nation’s facilities can accommodate 2,800 children. the estimated number of children on Jamaica’s streets is more than two times that amount – close to 6,500, according to The National Survey of Street and Working Children. Moreover, all spaces are currently occupied. Rashida St Juste, public relations officer and campaign manager at the CDA, the institution charged with the overall responsibility of safeguarding the nation’s children, said in many of the cases reported to the CDA, an investigation was carried out. however, the child was allowed to remain in the home, because there was not enough space available – neither in state-run homes nor in appropriate private homes. So severe is the space shortage that children are sometimes placed in adult penal institutions, or in juvenile correctional facilities, even when they have not committed a crime. this
practice was brought to light in the wake of a 2009 fire, which resulted in the death of seven wards at the Armadale Juvenile Correctional Centre in St Ann, Jamaica. exTreMe cASeS only According to St Juste, however, if a child has nowhere to go or if a severe case of child neglect is reported, priority would be given to that child, who would be placed in institutional care. Other problems crippling the efforts of officials are more complex, according to children’s advocate Georgia Garvey. “the whole matter of street children and begging is a complex one. there are children who will come on the streets and beg then go back home, while there are those who live on the streets. “At times you will take them off the street and put them in a place of safety and they abscond. So you will find many children on the street begging, not because they do not live anywhere, but because the street gives them some sort of independence,” said Garvey. When caRIMac times visited New Kingston late one night, children between the ages of 13 and 16 were seen roaming the streets aimlessly and begging passers-by. Many of the children said they lived on the streets and begged
to survive. The National Survey of Street and Working Children makes a distinction between children of the street and children on the street. the latter group comprises of those who have a home, but for some reason (usually begging), are found on the streets. Some are allowed to do so with parental consent. Others lack the parental supervision that would prevent them from being on the streets. Children of the street have no home. they live and work on the street. the survey also estimated the proportion of children engaged in different activities. According to its findings, Kingston’s street children are mainly involved in vending activities (42 per cent); selling various services (15 per cent) – such as handcart deliveries, car tending and windshield wiping. An estimated four per cent beg. David Walsh* is a short, darkcomplexioned, dirty-looking child on the street. Droopy was the usual position of the 10-year-old’s head – except when there was an approaching vehicle. Although a student, he has to provide for himself. he attends Calabar Primary School in Kingston during the days and begs money in the evenings. the money he collects is used to cover the cost of his bus fare and lunch the next day. Walsh is just one of the many
Photo by nackeShia blake
A boy tries to make money wiping windshields in Liguanea, St Andrew.
responsibility to parents, teachers, workers at day care centres, doctors, nurses, guidance counsellors and other people who work with children. Every adult has a responsibility under this law. the act stipulates that every child has the right to a certain standard of living, should be enrolled in school, and no child should be subject to dehumanising conditions. Under the act, cases of street children are to be investigated and action taken to get them off the streets.
Activities of street children by category
Chart showing the reasons children gave for being on the streets according to
The National Survey of Street and Working Children. children on the streets of Kingston who want to rise from poverty and become professionals. Fourteen-year-old tyler Cousins* is another child on the street. he looked tired, worn and ragged as he approached the first car on the streets of New Kingston. the male driver asked him some questions. Cousins answered them quickly and tried to be polite. “Yes, sir. No, sir. thank you, sir,” he replied. he told caRIMac times that he does not like the idea of being on the street, but he has no choice. his mother is deceased and his father is mentally ill. he was left in the care of his mother’s friend, but he said his guardian was hardly able to care for her five children when she was unexpectedly asked to add five more (Cousins and his siblings) to the lot. Despite his situation, Cousins harbours dreams of becoming a soldier and is determined to realise his dream. he wants to go to school. he says he wants to be able to take care of his siblings and to live a better life. Cousins is not alone in these feelings. The National Survey of Street and Working Children found that a quarter of street children would prefer the life of ‘normal’ children, having fun, going to school regularly, and
living in a comfortable home, conducive to study and play. twenty-three per cent of the children want to become professionals, such as pilots, air stewardesses, lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers and nurses. Boys outnumber girls on the streets 4:1, but girls are increasingly seen on Kingston’s streets. Dressed in a stained striped top and baggy jeans, with untidy hair, a 12year-old girl sells and begs in the vicinity of tGI Fridays – an international food chain on hope Road in St Andrew, Jamaica.
the restaurant attracts many customers, especially in the evenings and on weekends. Like Cousins and Walsh, this little girl wants to become a professional – a teacher. At the busy eating spot, she approaches couples or groups. She holds a few packets of baby wipes, candies and car air fresheners. She pleads desperately but politely with the patrons to buy one of these items. When they refuse, she uses the opportunity to beg something – most times money. In February 2010, Allison Anderson-McLean resigned from her post as head of the CDA. A new director has been appointed, but it remains to be seen what effect this will have on the plight of street children like Walsh and Cousins. At the time the article was written, there were no proactive plans to get children off the nation’s streets. there are no plans to expand the amount of institutional spaces available either. So, the future for children, like Cousins, remain uncertain. “At times I leave [the street] at 8:00 or 9:00 in the night,” Cousins told caRIMac times. “I have no set time to leave. I have to ensure I get at least my lunch money for the next day.” When asked how he felt about being on the street, he responded, “I don’t like it. I wish I never had to. Sometimes I just want to go home.” n * Names changed.
Photo by nackeShia blake
This boy is happy after receiving the money he begs.
THE DANCEHALL DEBATE RAGES ON
Photo by PhilliP green
Assassin performing at Reggae Sumfest 2009.
By volney l. Barrett
FtER YEARS of debate, the discussion on the effects of dancehall rages on. Good or bad? that is the question. Fans of dancehall music and religious leaders differ in their views about the impact of the music on the Jamaican society - particularly on the younger generation. At the centre of the controversy are those songs which contain violent and sexually explicit lyrics. Over the years, church leaders have maintained that these songs are contributing greatly to the decline in moral values in the society. however, dancehall fans argue that what is happening in society
cannot be blamed on the music itself because artistes highlight the reality of Jamaican life through their work. lAck of SociAliSATion Cultural and Entertainment Affairs Chairman of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Ibrahim Konteh, who described himself as an avid dancehall supporter, said he does not blame society’s problems on dancehall music and the culture that surrounds it. he said society’s problems have their root in a lack of socialisation. “Dancehall is a symptom,” he said. he explained that the Jamaican society disagreed on many things, so it was improper to look to any one of
those things and identify it as the sole cause of the declining moral situation. he added that as long as Jamaicans continue to look for a wholesale cure, social decline would continue. According to him, the slide of Jamaican society can only be halted with a multi-sided approach, which takes in all the agents of socialisation. this would include music, but would not stop there. “Usually Jamaicans come together for sports and music, so it is very unfortunate that the music has become a divisive agent,” Konteh said. On the other hand, director of the Montego-Bay-based Sold Out Ministries International, Reverend Paul Blake, argued that there has been too Photo by PhilliP green
Dancehall fans enjoying the performances at Reggae Sumfest 2009.
coMTeMporAry dAnceHAll differenT Donna hope, lecturer in the Cultural Studies Unit of the UWI, Mona, and author of the book Inna di Dancehall, defined dancehall music as a genre of Jamaican music that originated in the early 1980s. But hope explains that the contemporary manifestation of dancehall music culture is more than a composite of all music genres that have existed in Jamaica since slavery. “While affected by and encapsulating elements of earlier forms of Jamaican music, (for example mento, ska, dub, roots, rock, and reggae), the music culture labelled dancehall occupies a late twentieth century cultural, political, ideological and economic space in Jamaica and has a definite point of disjuncture with preceding manifestations of popular Jamaican music culture,” she said. hope explained that in its economic manifestation, for example, dancehall is the vehicle that carries incomes into many inner-city communities. Not everyone can
Some fans argue that confrontation is a part of the dancehall culture, and violent lyrics will not necessarily result in violence among fans.
become a successful artiste, but the economic activities that surround the music, like ‘stage shows’ (concerts) allow many families to survive. She also said that dancehall allows the inner-city to express its views on social, personal and economic issues. Before he became a Christian, Blake was part of a dancehall group – Blood Fire Posse – in the 1980s. he said that unlike many of the artistes today, they chose carefully what kind of music to release. It was a responsibility the Blood Fire Posse was always mindful of, Blake said. “We believed in having fun, but you check our lyrical content it was all clean fun through dancing. One song, Are You Ready, was really asking people, are you ready to meet God? We had a sense of responsibility,” he said. Blake continued: “We never did songs merely to make money. that is irresponsible. As long as I was the head of that group we were bound by biblical principles,” he said. Blake also said the recent upsurge of violent lyrics represents a lack of responsibility on the part of the artistes. this lyrical warfare, that sometimes manifests as ‘beef’ between artistes, has led to physical confrontations between various artistes in the past. But in 2009, the animosity between two artistes, Vybz Kartel and Mavado, garnered national attention. their feud triggered massive condemnation from some quarters of the society. It was feared that fans of the artistes - mostly young adults and teenagers, would mimic their idols, and this would lead to violent flare-ups among supporters. the growing sense of panic and
much irresponsibility in dancehall music. “the dancehall culture has ‘taken over’ our youths,” he said. “I was conducting devotions at a secondary school in Montego Bay recently... and [when] my son said on the microphone, ‘yuh mean gyal a wha mi do u mek u do mi dat’, di place mash up!” Blake said. the lines his son repeated were lyrics from one of dancehall’s more popular acts – Vybz Kartel. Vybz Kartel has been criticised for his violent and sexually charged lyrics.
outrage prompted the Government, in the latter part of 2009, to step in and initiate a truce between both artistes. Some fans argue, however, that the episode was unnecessary. they say that confrontation is a part of the dancehall culture, and violent lyrics will not necessarily result in violence among fans. they say the fear and frenzy that gripped some people comes from a lack of understanding of the dancehall culture. “My favourite artiste is Vybz Kartel,” explained Konteth. “I am a fan of good music, my preference for Vybz Kartel does not mean that I do not also like the lyrics from Mavado, Bounty Killer, Flexx, Aidonia and so on.” he added that if he likes a song, regardless of who sings it, he will declare his unwavering support.
Scammer wants to put money to ‘good use’
By volney l. Barrett
MAGINE SOMEONE who has scammed persons out of their hard earned money saying that their ill-gotten gains should be put to good use. Nineteen-year-old Rickoro*, who has been involved in the lottery scam based in Montego Bay, St James since 2006, said too many scammers are wasting their money on expensive cars and other material things. “Nuff a dem man deh a drive round inna expensive car and a buy big house and a profile while dem mother and father nuh live inna no good house and naa drive no car,” Rickoro said. According to the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), the racket began more than 10 years ago. Its effects are hard to measure, but it is thought that scores of American citizens have been fleeced of millions of dollars by persons who pretended to be representatives of fictitious lottery organisations. Photo by youlanda henry
Laptops and cellular phones are some of the items used by persons in the lottery scam.
According to the JCF, the perpetrators contact unsuspecting victims, and inform them of the ‘lottery winnings’. the scammers then ask victims to send money through foreign exchange outlets in Jamaica to cover what they usually call tax charges. the money is then pocketed by the scammer. During our interview, Rickoro pointed out that he got involved in the racket to improve the quality of his life as well as those of his immediate family and friends. he revealed that he tries to help his 15-year-old sister with money sometimes when she needs to purchase personal items. Rickoro said that she is aware of his involvement in the lottery scam. their single mother, however, is unaware that he is involved in the scam and does not know that he has been giving his sister some of the money. he said that their mother, who works at an advertising agency in Montego Bay, has been struggling to make ends meet. their father was incarcerated when Rickoro was four years-old, shortly after his sister was born. he was nabbed for drug-related charges and is currently serving a 30-year sentence in the United States. the young scammer said that when he started, he asked two close friends to work along with him. “there are three of us working together one is 19 (identified in this story as Johnny*) and one is 17,” he said. “I am having financial difficulties but they have it more than I do, so I do it for them … in a sense.” Rickoro expressed his belief in the importance of education. he said that the money he has gained will go towards continuing his education. he said that too many University and college trained students are having difficulties finding jobs. his lifelong aim is to become a criminal lawyer. the inspiration, he said, comes from a family member whom he respects and admires.
Me know say it wrong but me just nuh have a choice right now. Mi jus haffi gwaan do it until me get a work.
Johnny*, 19, has been involved in the lottery scam since 2007. Like Rickoro, he was introduced to it by someone he knows. Rickoro accidentally bumped into a student when he was attending high school in St James who was on a phone call with an American citizen. the student, Rickoro said, was telling the American man that he had won a substantial sum of money and needed to send funds to cover various charges before his prize could be sent to him. he decided to try it afterwards. Johnny was introduced to it by a cousin while he was in high school. he explained that his mother lives and works in the United States and sends money to assist in caring for him, but according to him, it is woefully inadequate. his father is a mechanic, but due to the instability of the job and income, struggles to provide for him, Rickoro said. Johnny, who was trained in electrical installation in high school,
said that he works with someone; however, the demand for this type of service is often low. “Me know say it wrong but me just nuh have a choice right now. Mi jus haffi gwaan do it until me get a work,” he said. the third young man that works with Rickoro could not be reached for an interview but Rickoro explained that he too is a recent graduate of a high school in St James. Rickoro pointed out that they have had to be smart when they call persons, as well as when they go about collecting the money from the financial institutions. “Sometime me feel say wah mek nuff a di man dem a dead out a because dem a show off dem expensive car and ting,” Johnny said. According to JCF data, the lottery scam has been one of the factors fuelling an upsurge in crime in St. James since it intensified in 2006. Inspector Steve Brown, who heads the information arm of the JCF –
Constabulary Communication Network (CCN), explained that the police are working to break the back of the racket. “From time to time, we have been making arrests based on intelligence, Inspector Brown said. “the scam is very big; but the real area of focus remains on Montego Bay which is the hub of the activities associated with the scam.” In the meantime, the police are also aware that scammers have turned to credit cards. he said that the police are intensifying efforts to catch more of these persons. St James police statistics revealed that murders rose from 139 in 2005 to 217 at the end of 2008. In 2009, the parish recorded 240 murders. the Montego Bay police said a significant percentage of those murders are linked to the scam. they also said that many of these killings result from disputes arising from unequal distribution of the spoils. the Stone Crusher Gang, which is based in the Norwood area of northwestern St James, has been linked to the scam, police investigations have revealed. the police had also reported that players in the scam paid members of the gang for protection.
In February 2007, Operation Kingfish conducted a raid in Granville, Bogue Village and Westgate hills, in the Montego Bay area, arresting 32 persons and seizing J$1 million in cash, nine highend motor cars, cellular phones, computers and documents. three men and a woman were arrested in Anchovy in southern St James
during the same period. Several documents bearing the names and telephone numbers of persons in the United States of America were seized. Rickoro and his partners, like most other players in the lottery scam, target senior citizens who are usually retired. One of their victims is an 83year-old woman, living on social security but her grandchildren do not take care of her. “She entered the game for real and we would call her from a (fictitious) company called Winner’s International and she believed. So when I charged her the first money, US$150,000, she said she could only pay US$25,000 up front,” Rickoro said. After consulting with his partner, they agreed to let her make a deposit of US$25,000 for the so-called winnings. they told her that she could pay the remainder after she received the ‘package’ (so-called winnings),” Rickoro revealed, adding that all payments must be made in cash. American media reports have said that a 72-year-old woman from a New Jersey address in the United States of America, identified as Ann Mowle, allegedly committed suicide after being fleeced of her life savings amounting to US$248,000 by a Jamaican scam artiste. the police and other groups have since been issuing warnings to beware of such persons. n
* Names changed
n The time it will take to read this page, five people* will contract hiV. This virus remains a major concern in the Caribbean. according to The united nations Joint Programme on hiV/aidS (unaidS), the35 Caribbean has the second highest prevalence of persons over the age of 15 with hiV, behind Sub-Saharan africa. There were over 200,000 new infections in the region in 2008. The majority of those infections were in young adults – those between 15 and 25 years old. as much as 60 per cent of those infected are unaware of their status. a condom, though not 100 per cent effective, can help to stop the spread of hiV. Play your part by practising safe sex, all the time, every time. you can also help the fight by knowing your status. Backstage presents some tips on how to talk with your partner about getting tested for hiV.
Popping the question 1
Choose a time and place for your talk that is relaxed and comfortable. Also, ensure that you have the talk before you decide to be intimate.
A practical guide to asking your partner to get tested
Start off on a positive note. Let your partner know that you really care about him or her and that is why you want to talk.
If you are worried about your partner’s reaction, try breaching the topic through instant messaging or email. Not being face to face reduces the risk of ‘chickening out’ because of a partner’s reaction. Also, silly emoticons can help to lighten the mood.
Make it clear to your partner that the conversation has nothing to do with trust. Let him or her know that the step is necessary, and a part of being responsible for your health. try making comparisons, like would you have cancer and not get treated?
Explain what a hIV test involves. Many times, fear is rooted in ignorance, especially about confidentiality.
Offer to take the test together.
If your partner refuses, offer to take the test first. then, you can reopen the subject by sharing how much taking the test put your mind at ease.
Steps were compiled using information taken from iwannaknow.org, UNAIDS, and ehow.com
*baSed on a 2008 unaidS rePort on the rate of infectionS.
Photo by SoPhia cooPer
Some Jamaicans pay as much as $60,000 – some even more – to get a driver’s licence without having to pass the necessary tests.
Licences on the go n Prospective drivers pay big bucks to go ‘legal’ By Tamara A. Smith
IS EYES are fixed on the building ahead. he makes his way through the parking lot, searching for the familiar face. he firmly grips the papers as he tries to mask his nervousness. he pats his
pocket; the bulge he feels there reassures him. As he catches the attention of the man standing in a corner of the lot, all his anxiety drains away. he removes the parcel from his pocket, places it among the papers and hands them to the man, who is now standing in front
‘The legal system makes it [almost] impossible to get [the licence]. There is always a problem. It is complicated. You are not welcomed unless you go through the corruption channel.’
of him. the man turns and leaves. the deal is done. Davis, 21, says on that day, instead of going through the formal system, which he describes as "set to fail you", he bought his driver's licence. Driver’s licences are issued by the Inland Revenue Department (IRD) in Jamaica. Becoming a licenced driver is a process. First, regardless of age, a provisional licence or ‘learners’ must be acquired. this requires the applicant to fill out the necessary form, present the requested documents, and pay the J$1,000 fee. then, provisional licence in hand, the applicant must now obtain a second form from the IRD, depending on what type of licence he wishes to have. there are two choices: private and general. More documents are required here: three passport-sized photos – certified by a Justice of the Peace – and a doctor’s certificate verifying that the applicant is fit to operate a vehicle. After paying the examination fee of $1800 at the IRD, the applicant should submit the documents and schedule an appointment at the examination depot. On the appointed day, the applicant is tested on knowledge of the road code, literacy and mechanical
knowledge in the written test. In the practical, the applicant is tested on reversing and parking, after which he/she is taken on the road. Davis is, however, convinced that even after going through this process successfully, one will not be given a licence unless he decides to pay “extra”. he says buying his licence was the safest way to ensure that he did not fail the test and have to retake it. "Several of my friends failed the test the first time they took it. Some failed on numerous occasions, and they only received their driver's licences after they decided to give a man a money," he says. he explains to caRIMac times that in conducting the transaction, he gave the documents to who he calls a “confederate”, with the money which was decided on before. this confederate or ‘henchman’ is not usually employed to the examination depot. “they usually collect the money with the documents, because you cannot allow anyone to see when you are giving them the money. he will then take it to the examiner, with whom he works,” he says. “When you first talk to him, he
asks if you can help yourself (read or write). this determines how much you will pay. I paid $15,000 because I am able to read and write well. [Nonliterates] pay up to $60,000. “If you cannot read or write, they will take care of that part, as long as you pay the money. Also, if you give them $50,000 or $60,000 you don’t have to do the tests, just pick up the licence,” Davis says. thirty-four-year-old Damien Clarke*, who has had his licence for two years, says he also chose to “buy” it, rather than use the formal channel. “the legal system makes it [almost] impossible to get [the licence]. there is always a problem. It is complicated. You are not welcomed unless you go through the corruption channel,” he says. Clarke says that he decided to purchase his licence because he did not want to have the same experience as his best friend who failed the driving test on several occasions, although he reads, writes and drives well. “the runaround continued for about six months until finally someone told him (his best friend) that it was a wild goose chase and if he came up with some money, it could all be sorted.
Because of his experience, I decided I didn’t have the time for a chase. I was scheduled to pick up a job at the time and the job required that you to have a driver’s licence. the quickest route to getting a licence is to buy it, so I just took it.” Clarke, like Davis, also paid $15,000 for a general licence. he says that if he were unable to read, it would have been expected to pay between $60,000 and $100,000. “It (cost) was steep still, but I needed it (licence). If you try to get it the normal way, you will just end up getting a detour to the ‘confederate’. You cannot get it any other way, a so di ting set up, everybody a eat a food.” Clarke still submitted the relevant legal documents and completed the reading, written and driving tests. “I completed all the normal requirements, everything was legal except for the money … you have to drive or appear to drive for your licence.” Clarke said, instead of providing his own vehicle for the driving test, he rented one from the henchman. he has two cars which he rents to be used for the road test,” he says. When caRIMac times approached one of the alleged “confederates”, he denied accepting payments for driver’s licences. “Nothing like that happens here. If you go on the road and do everything perfectly for the examiner, then you pass the test. If you go out there and make a mistake, then you have to pay another examination fee and get a new date, nothing else. So, don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise. “If you fail the yard test, you won’t be able to go on the road. If you fail 10 times, you have to pay the examination fee 10 times. Nobody pays anything [else],” he says. he calls another man who is sitting on a block at the other end of the yard to verify his story. “Where you get that from, nothing like that takes place here,”
the man says. “Don’t write that that happens at any of the depots in Jamaica, or you will never be able to get a driver’s licence.” Moricia Bennett*, a former examination depot employee, says she witnessed instances where people who failed the written test were selected for licences. “there is evidence [that money changes hands]. the first test administered is the written test and then the driving test. If an applicant fails the written test, they should not be allowed to do anything else. I don’t know what happens in the driving test but most times I administer the written test, collect and mark it. On occasions, persons who fail, I make appointments for them to redo the test but I see them come back and go straight to driving. they are then passed. “this should not happen,” Bennett says, “If you fail the written test you should not be allowed to move on to driving because this would mean that you can’t read and don’t understand the road code.” She recounts an incident where a young man taking the written test stopped her as she walked by and asked her to read him the questions on the paper. “he did not pass the written test, but I was told to give him a new date for a week later, although it should have been two weeks.” Bennett explains that the young man returned a week later and she remembers writing the form for his licence to be issued at the tax office. “It puzzled me. I am still wondering how he passed because he was unable to read,” she says, adding that there are times when she did not mark a test for a particular applicant but his name would be among those to be sent for licences. According to Bennett, the confederate usually takes money from the applicants to ensure that they receive an early appointment date or to eliminate certain sections of the test. “I give it (the early appointment) to them because they (confederates) are on the grounds long time and I know them and
I don’t want to create a disruption. there are times, however, when the boss will tell me not to do it,” she says. She explains that there have been times when because the confederate did not follow through with the arrangement, the applicants would come to the office in search of him. “Sometimes you don’t see them for two weeks,” she says. Bennett reveals that she has witnessed money “passing hands” when fitness tests are to be carried out on vehicles. “It always annoyed me when vehicles are being passed and [they are] not seen or inspected. I am given envelopes with fitness forms for vehicles, including trucks, and not one truck is on the property. So you can tell that money was exchanged. And when I go into my boss’ office, he hands me the fitness forms and then stays inside and counts the money,” she says. Meanwhile, Emerson Crooks, senior inspector of motor vehicles at a branch of the Island traffic Authority, says he is aware of allegations that individuals do make payments for driver’s licences. “I have heard about it but I have not witnessed it,” he says. Crooks, who heads operations at a rural examination depot, says individuals should spend time reading the Jamaican driver’s guide and not pay for licences. he adds that the claims made by applicants that they are not able to obtain their driver’s licences unless they pay a confederate is false. he says “based on my experience, applicants come here … and they are given instructions to reverse through the cones without touching them. And the fact that they touch the cones and they (cones) don’t fall, they think that this is not ground on which to fail.”
Photo by michal ZacharZewSki
he says when applicants make mistakes during the various segments of the driving tests, they believe their failure is unjust. he, however, highlights that sometimes examiners can be very strict and might deliberately look for a reason to fail applicants. “People will be people … but that is when you get too emotional about the whole job … but I try not to do that,” he says. iGnorAnce Crooks explains that applicants who pay for licences because of the fear of failing do so out of “ignorance”. “there you realise that they don’t know the relevance of the test. they need to acknowledge the relevance of the test. It is not designed to fail you but to produce better drivers for our roads.” In a sunday gleaner article dated January 28, 2007, then director of the Island traffic Authority, Winston Rattray, said steps could not be taken to punish those involved in the illegal practice unless those affected spoke up. "Personnel from the Island traffic Authority have been arrested and charged in the past, but the cases were adjourned sine die (adjourned indefinitely – without setting any future date of meeting or hearing),” he said. Rattray said that when an
allegation is made, the Authority conducts an internal investigation to establish if the allegation is malicious. he says staff members who are found to be accepting payments in exchange for driver’s licences are sanctioned. For example, as long as it is discovered that the examiner's actions are questionable, he is transferred out of the area. "Without proof from someone coming forward, there is little that you can do," he said. Sergeant Beverley hill-Wright of the traffic headquarters says that although obtaining a driver’s licence is an offence, identifying non-literate drivers who bought their licences is difficult. “You can’t really tell unless the person is arrested and a check of the licence is done. Some police officers, not all, will ask them to read at the time, and if they can’t read, that’s when they realise,” she says. She adds that there are no statistics to show that individuals who may have purchased licences increase the number of road accidents. there is also, no figure available to support the argument that non-literate individuals contribute to accidents. n *Names changed.
Fraudsters grab funds from unsuspecting cardholders By Anika richards
EEDING CASh urgently, 29year-old Colin Patterson* stepped into the automated teller machine (AtM), inserted his debit card, punched in his personal identification number along with the amount he wanted, and waited. In a matter of seconds, he got the shock of his life – his account was almost empty.
he had gone to the AtM to withdraw $ 1,000 for a haircut, but realised that his balance was only $5,000. “I felt like a fish out of water,” said Patterson, who added that $50,000 had been withdrawn from his account. “I needed the money ... . I had my bills to pay, and they were all due.” Patterson, a teacher at a Kingstonbased school and a student at the Edna Manley College of the Visual and
Performing Arts, was now flat broke and clueless as to his next move. Patterson’s experience is not an isolated one and it is not limited to debit cardholders. According to a Jamaica Observer article published earlier this year, J$245.1 million was lost to credit card fraud in Jamaica last year, while J$10.29 billion was lost in the Latin American and Caribbean region. Approximately J$615 billion was lost worldwide.
unscrupulous persons to copy a cardholder’s personal information and password. Remier Gray*, while warning his fellow Jamaicans to proceed with caution when using debit and credit cards, explained that it is easy to swipe a card in a grabber – a machine that copies the information from the credit or debit card. this grabber is then connected to a computer where it displays all the saved data. A writer is used to download the information onto a ‘dummy card’. the dummy card may be an old credit card, old debit card, or a money transfer card. Gray said he then proceeds to spend the unsuspecting cardholders’ money while pretending to be them. All this is done and the dummy card is discarded within a week – before the cardholder has any idea what has happened. According to Gray, to make the process more “efficient”, scammers
usually work in groups. Each member having a different role. “If a person is employed where people [conduct transactions] using [a debit or a credit] card, a scammer would give that person a grabber,” said Gray. “So, when they get the person’s card, all they need to do is swipe it through the grabber, and then continue with the person’s transaction for the store, using the regular point-of-sale machine.” “I worked with a young lady,” Gray explained. [She] was the receptionist at a particular location that allowed her to keep the credit cards of customers until they were ready to leave [the location].” Gray’s role in the group, which included a third person, the writer, who produces the dummy card, was to get the cash, which was then shared among the members of the group. “I do cash advances on dummy
See SWIPED, P44
CARD SAFETY TIPS 1 4 6 2 Observe atM units and pointof-sale machines very closely for any strange devices, and shield your pin. the public nature of these devices makes it easy for someone to shoulder surf and grab your pin.
Use disposable credit cards instead of debit cards. credit cards offer protection from identity theft that debit cards don’t. For example, with a credit card, your liability for fraudulent charges caps at $50 as long as you report the fraud within 30 or 60 days (depending on the company). However, if you’re using your debit card online and someone gains access to it, they can clean out your checking account before you even learn there’s a problem.
check your statements or bankbooks often to verify all transactions and notify your
bank of any suspicious activity.
Never let your card out of your sight when conducting a debit transaction. You want to see where that card is going and how it’s being used. What you should see is the clerk swiping the card through a Pc/register-based fixed keyboard or terminal. If you see them swipe the card in a handheld skimmer or something on their body, like attached to a belt or ankle that’s a red flag.
shop online at secure sites. When shopping online, be aware that not all web sites offer the same level of security. that means that savvy criminals can capture everything that you enter onto a form on those sites. You can tell if a site is secure by the URL. a secure web site starts with HttPs:// instead of HttP://. secure sites will
also have a small lock icon in the lower right corner of the screen. also, don’t shop online in public.
Memorise your information and keep it to yourself. Don’t store information elsewhere. Many shopping sites offer you the option to save your credit card information on their servers to speed the shopping process. It’s definitely faster, but there are risks to maintaining your personal information elsewhere. If a company that you’re shopping with has a data breach, your personal information could be put at risk.
If you suspect that someone knows your PIN, change it immediately. With millions of new cards issued every year, chances are your card is compromised. so, not only change your password, but change your card number every few months, just to be on the safe side.
According to the same article, at least one financial institution, the National Commercial Bank (NCB), admitted to losing more than J$100 million to credit card fraud last year. After his discovery, Patterson visited his financial institution. he was told that if his story could be verified, the money would be returned to him within 21 days. Checks made by his bank later revealed that his account was accessed three times at different locations in the Spanish town area. According to Patterson, on the days of the recorded transactions, he was nowhere near that area. however, until his complaint could be verified, Patterson had to find another way to meet his financial obligations. “I had to borrow money to pay my bills and my rent,” said Patterson. “I still do not understand how someone was able to access my funds.” caRIMac times learnt that a single swipe is all that is needed for
st e T
t ul s e
Risky business Erratic condom use continues among young people despite increased awareness
happened. For many young people between the ages of 15 and 19, according to a Jamaican study, sexual intercourse just happened. they were not raped or tricked; it was unplanned. having sex just happened. The Adolescent Condom Survey reported in 2001 that six out of 10 sexually active Jamaican teenagers had unplanned sex. Now, one of the latest reports from the Ministry of health (Moh) – The 2008 Knowledge Attitudes and Behaviour Practices (KABP) Survey – shows that people are becoming sexually active earlier. Sexual activity is moving its boundaries, outstripping gains in safe sex practices. Condom use, the study found, remains at best, erratic. According to Norman Cooper, behaviour change communications coordinator at the Moh, “people have opportunistic sex … . [Sometimes,] there is no condom available but, people think ‘this one is too good to pass up’. A lot of that happens,” he said. Condom use depends on several things – the mood, the people involved, and condom availability.
MAinTAininG THe Mood “Most times, with a casual first encounter you are not in control of all the factors which would determine whether you get some [sex] or not. You want to do as little as possible to throw the mood off,” says Ato Carrington, a resident at a male dorm – Chancellor hall – at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona. the dorm’s management asked Carrington to identify the best way of delivering a safer-sex campaign to the men who live there. A condom, he said, is one of the things that can break the mood – unless the woman suggests it. “With a casual first encounter, generally, [a guy is] trying to get a female to see things his way. If at the end of all your negotiating she says,
‘only if you use a condom’, then the condom will come out faster,” Carrington explained. But according to the KAPB survey, it is unlikely that the woman will suggest condom use. the survey found that women in the 15 to 24 age group were approximately twice as likely to have sex without a condom with persons they were not married to or living with. “Specifically, greater frequency of condom use was associated with a supportive partner who also preferred condoms and personal preparedness evidenced by carrying a condom on oneself,” the survey said. Over the past few years, international agencies have partnered with Caribbean media to run several campaigns aimed at encouraging safer sex practices among the population. the KAPB says the knowledge has reached the target population. Campaigns like ‘Run your show with a condom every time’ were reported to have caused discussion among approximately 50 per cent of sexually active partners in the 15 to 49 age group. So why the disparity between knowledge and behaviour? Cooper says it is common for people to know the information they need to avoid contracting sexually transmitted infections (StIs) but choose not to use it. “[the] challenge is to translate knowledge into behaviour,” he said. Carrington offered another explanation for the gap between knowledge and behaviour, based on his experiences interacting with young men in the safer-sex campaign. “Sometimes, it’s not about how much you know. the problem was not lack of information on hIV and AIDS, it was complacency on the part of the males. the superhero complex where you’re so aware of it, [but you believe] ‘I am the one who is going to get away’,” Carrington said. the harsh economic times may also be a contributing factor, especially for the higher incidence of erratic condom use among women.
“transactional sex could become an even more important economic reality for many in the face of an increasingly difficult economic climate. With this risky behavior, however, women will have to learn how to negotiate condom use,” the study notes in its summary. It went on to explain that because the harsh economic climate is likely to continue, multiplepartner relations are also likely to continue, because different partners fulfill different emotional and economic needs. In addition, a UWI, Mona, study conducted by Dr Blossom AnglinBrown and Jasneth Mullings, who both work at the University health Centre, found that young people generally think their chances of contracting the virus were slim. vAriouS fAcTorS “A primary [myth] is that persons on campus do not have hIV,” said Dr Anglin-Brown, who is the head of the health centre. the study also found that a high female to male ratio, peer pressure for sex, multiple partners, alcohol consumption, and limited personal development skills influence the spread of hIV among the young and the middle-aged. As a result of the findings, the health centre started the Sexual Safety Initiative Programme targeting the student and staff community. “the overall aim [of the programme] is to implement the UWI hIV and AIDS policy through education, health services and programmes to reduce the incidence of hIV and other StIs,” Dr Anglin-Brown said. the programme uses activities at clubs or leisure events popular to students to deliver the message of safer sex. Condom use is an important part of the fight against the spread of hIV. It is estimated that two-thirds of the 27,000 persons living with hIV in Jamaica are unaware that they have been infected. the Moh has ramped up free testing to get people to know their status.
By Sophia cooper
“We want [them] to know [if] they are positive, so that they can do what they need to do. that is treatment [and to] practice safe sex all the time [so] that they don’t infect others and protect themselves from re-infection,” Cooper said. At free hIV-testing events, the number of people who choose to get tested generally increases, especially on World AIDS Day and Valentine’s Day. however, the same has not happened outside of these peak periods, according to the Moh. Maxwell thomas* was in his early twenties when he found out he had contracted hIV. “It was difficult when it came to nutrition. things I could do then and get away with, I can’t do that now,” he said. “[I have to] watch what I eat, when I eat and give up alcohol and
SWIPED CONTINUeD frOm P41
cards,” said Gray. A cash advance is a loan given to the cardholder through a business. “It is just like swiping your card to pay for goods,” Gray said. the scammer would go to the cashier with the dummy card and request a sum of money. the cashier will swipe the card and bill the amount to the credit card. he said for example, that if he requested $1000 and the business charged $200 for the service, the cashier would bill $1200 to the card. the receptionist will give him the $1000 dollars from her till. the credit card company will later reimburse the business $1200. At the end of the month, however, the legitimate cardholder will be responsible for repaying the full $1200 dollars, plus the applicable service charges to the credit card company. Besides the cash advances, Gray
tobacco. At the beginning, I thought that life was over.” he says the scripture ‘I shall not die but live to declare the words of the Lord’, was his inspiration to keep going during those first few months. Now, thomas works with his peers, and has an active life in sports and church. Within six months of being diagnosed, he was able to overcome the side effects of his medication. he could then go back to work. “Especially the one at night, it puts you to bed, gives you night mares [and] shuts down your nervous system,” he says, explaining the side effects of his medication. “I forced myself to stay up because I had to work.” thomas is in a relationship but said that it can be very strenuous
because he has to be looking out for himself and his partner, because sometimes his partner wants to have unprotected sex to show how much he loves him – even though his partner is aware of his status. his mood swings are also a test to the relationship he said. In December, thomas will complete his first degree in Management and Business Administration at a Canadian-based institution. he says living with hIV has offered him a chance to do something he may not have otherwise thought of: since he has faced discrimination, he can now educate others to be more tolerant of persons with the illness. “hIV is not a gay disease. It has no colour, creed or class, no gender, no race,” he said. n
also purchases clothes and spends much of his time clubbing. In these situations, he has to affix a signature on the receipts, but he has never been questioned about the signature he provides.
are being more careful. they are asking more questions when in doubt.” According to the same article, when Superintendent Colbert Edwards of the police force was asked about where the problem was most widely manifested, he said, “right across the board – from shopkeepers to large companies.” In 2008, the Jamaica Fraud Squad identified credit card fraud as a fast growing problem. this arm of the Jamaica Constabulary Force also acknowledged that the problem may be bigger than than crime statistics suggest, since it is not until banks refuse to settle claims that the cases are reported. Patterson, for example, is yet to report the incident to the Fraud Squad. his story was verified and his money was returned within the stipulated 21 “Be careful where and how you use your debit and credit cards, Gray warned. “I do not scam locals, but how many scammers use their discretion like me?” n
life in THe fAST lAne In a three-week period, Gray gets as much as US$800 and several purchases at different locations. this 23 year old, who is a graduate of a high school in western Jamaica, is employed but was presented with the “opportunity” to access the personal information of several people and he took it. Gray admits his actions are wrong, but he said he indulges because he likes living in the fast lane. he said scammers can be found mostly in the tourist areas of Jamaica. In a Jamaica gleaner article published last year, Claudette Rodriguez, assistant general manager Card Services and e-Channels unit at NCB said, “there was a problem in St. James earlier in the year and then it moved to St. Ann. But, we feel it’s on the decline and we feel merchants
0 1 0 2 f o s s a l C carimac times 2010 team: (front row, from left) Miss nackeshia Blake, Mrs Corinne Barnes (Print and Online Journalism co-ordinator), Mr Volney Barrett, Mrs Datonya McLaren and Miss Grace-Ann Black; (back row, from left): Miss Rebekah Watson, Miss Anika Richards, Miss Sophia Cooper, Miss Tamara A. Smith, Miss youlanda Henry and Mr Andewale McLaughlin. Missing are Miss Gabrielle I. Miller and Miss Jody-Anne Lawrence.
The CARIMAC Times – Backstage team would like to express its sincere gratitude to the following organisations and individuals, who contributed to making this publication a reality. UnITEd nATIonS PoPUlATIon FUnd (UnFPA) Mrs Althea Buchanan, Advocacy and communications advisor CARIBBEAn InSTITUTE oF MEdIA And CoMMUnICATIon Mrs Corinne Barnes, Print and Online Journalism co-ordinator Craig Duhaney, Engineer Marco Thompson, Engineer Allistair McLaren, Engineer Miss Fae Ellington, Lecturer Dr Livingston White, Lecturer Dr Anthea Eldalere-Henderson, Acting co-ordinator, Graduate Studies Unit BRIdgEPoRT PRIMARy SChool Miss Lorna Lewis, Principal Miss Keisha Martin, Teacher Miss Sandra Brown, Teacher Mrs Angella Francis MR RohAn WRIghT, Design consultant
Magazine done by CARIMAC Print and Online Journalism Class of 2010