Study on “Experiences of Stigma and Discrimination among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) in Jamaica”
Study can be found here: http://www.c-changeprogram.org/sites/default/files/Stigma-MSM-Jamaica.pdf
My summary of the study:
Experiences of Stigma and Discrimination among Men Who Have Sex with Men (MSM) in Jamaica
The research characterized stigma and discrimination as actions, deeds, words, behaviors, and attitudes expressed that deny the dignity, respect and/or rights of MSM. It looked to add depth to the understanding of MSM stigma/discrimination and to supplement what was currently being documented through Jamaican quantitative surveys.
Study findings were consistent with previously published studies in other regions of the world showing that MSM are the target of verbal, nonverbal, and physical stigma, discrimination, and abuse where negative labels, stereotypes, insults, and physical attacks are perpetrated against MSM individuals or groups to deny them dignity, respect, and basic human rights.
Types of stigma/discrimination
- Verbal stigma/discrimination, enacted directly or within earshot of the target, was found to be the most common (85 percent, n=155) form observed. Labels such as batty bwoy or batty man, described as “the country’s rifle” and akin to firing a gun, were considered so acceptable that one study respondent felt he had become part of the general arsenal of derogatory words used in heated disputes.
- Physical discrimination/harassment was less common (5 percent, n=9) with reports of stories of MSM being stabbed, shot, and attacked with machetes and sticks or a target of violent threats due to their sexuality.
Violent threat: An incident experienced by an ethnographer occurred as he passed a group of young men who were loudly discussing their sexuality. As he walked by, one called out to him, threatening violent sex: “Look pon that gyal yah me want we fi gang him and put a f*** pon him one night.” Another said, “I want to give him my nine inch cock in a him mouth make him suck it off.” (outside KSA)
Shot at: An incident was documented in which a young man was called “batty man” and chased and shot at by an individual in a car: A car drove up to a young man with the occupants demanding a search. The young man refused and started to run. One of the men shouted “batty man” and subsequently took chase firing at the young man. His arm was injured. (KSA)
Attacked with machete/stick: An ethnographer documented and observed MSM gathered in a local public space who were harassed by a group of men:
A man walks by a group of young men sitting in a public area. He shouts “batty man.” They ignore him. He returns three hours later with two other men and begins to harass the young men. They respond now cursing their abusers. The men go to their car and return with machetes and sticks and begin to chase the suspected homosexuals. The MSMs retaliate by throwing acid on their attackers. MSMs: “Mi nah run mi ago burn up somebody.” “Mi tired, mi nah run nuh more.” (KSA)
3. Interpersonal influence occurred when family members discovered that one of their own was a homosexual, reactions often became violent and involved ejection from the home.
A mother of an 18-year-old, who was an “A” student, had found out a year before that her son was gay. So negative was her reaction that despite outstanding performance in school she constantly degraded him and verbally harassed him. The intensity of her verbal attacks included regretting that she did not kill him during childbirth. This was recorded by a study ethnographer as follows:
My phone woke me up ringing impatiently: “Hello.” “Call mi back please.” My friend said crying. I knew the sound of this as it was now the norm. It was my
friend and his parents again, especially his mother, I could guess. I got myself in a frame of mind to handle the conversation that was afoot and called him back. He was so hurt and felt worthless. His parents were getting at him again for nothing. He was in his room talking to his school friends on his cell when she (the mother) came in and started saying: “Man a jump dung inna yuh. Aa nuh school yuh a guh a day time. A yuh man dem yaad yuh a guh. Dem soon kill yuh like the bwoy from Mobay.” So distraught, I said nothing. The friend continued: “Then she went on to say that she was sorry that she didn’t squeeze me and kill me during birth and that she is not spending one more dime at school on me.”
4. Community influence: the most common environment for stigma/discrimination at the community level was public spaces, including retail spaces, parks, public transportation, and, most commonly, “the road.
In one such example, a group of school boys were standing outside a supermarket and were observed berating a member of their group.
They insisted that he modify his behavior to exhibit more masculinity as well as have intercourse with a female: “Stop acting you’re a girl and go fuck some p****.” One member of the group went as far as to suggest they both have intercourse with a female so he (the suspected MSM)
could observe heterosexual intercourse: “Me and you are going to fuck a girl together and see big hood (penis) go in a p*****hole.” (outside KSA). The ethnographer’s assumption was that these suggestions were made in an attempt to correct his deviant behavior.
5. Institutional influence: In educational establishments MSM were a regular target of verbal insults and shunning in dormitories/on campuses; sexual harassment from MSM in positions of power (teachers) took place. While MSM generally have easy access to health care facilities, the study found that
ethnographers were sometimes reluctant to use the services at these facilities due to the stigma and discrimination displayed by some staff.
Impact of stigma/discrimination on MSM
Common feelings among MSM ethnographers included:
o Depression and suicidal thoughts to resolve endless emotional pain
o Fear of daily verbal abuse and physical attacks
o Frustration with having to hide oneself and not live freely
o Feelings of anger and acts of retaliation toward perpetrators
This report provides several recommendations that are listed below and discussed in more detail in the body of the report:
Conduct greater advocacy for addressing MSM stigma/discrimination among MSM and
Develop media campaigns to address social norms of MSM stigma/discrimination and
encourage interpersonal and community-level dialogue to support change.
Conduct capacity strengthening with education, social service, health facility staff, and
others who are in the position to misuse their power with MSM.
Develop targeted interventions with youth, parents, and religious leaders and church