Violence to Jamaican women as well as both physical and mental trauma influences the decisions that women make in Jamaica on an everyday basis. It is in a culturally accepted for men to treat their female partners in Jamaica as if they were inferior which makes it very difficult for women’s voices to be heard. In other words, domestic abuse, in a way, is normal. It is accepted to some, and it is disregarded by others. Regardless, where does a woman go if she finally does get the courage to stand up for herself? Many variables are put into play which is why reframing violence against women and trauma as health issues will help reinforce our understandings of health, illness and medicine.
During week 1, we had read a reading by Joralemon called “Recognizing Biological, Social and Cultural Interconnections.” To summarize, Joralemon explains and emphasizes how biological, social and cultural dimensions were all responsible for the Cholera outbreak (Joralemon, 1999). This epidemic and point goes hand in hand with the lecture that we were shown “Violence Against Women” which reinforces that trauma is culturally determined. This means that specific groups may see certain things traumatic while others do not blink a single eye. Earlier I discussed how Jamaican women over the years have typically been treated as if they were inferior. Well this is a cultural issue. Once this becomes a social issue, the cycle becomes very hard to break. Furthermore, studies of Jamaican women who have migrated to the United States has been completed. Results have shown that Jamaican women indeed have less fear while in the United States because they believed that they actually have protection, and they believe that saying something will actually yield results. (Gillespie-Johnson, 2008). The lecture “Violence Against Women” also reiterated that women process stress much differently than men. They actually experience it to a higher degree. This can be emphasized by pregnant women. Changes in their body during pregnancy can actually lead to re-experiencing trauma. (Sperlich M., Julia & Seng., 2008). It is like a trigger to any other disorder, so if we actually want to make progressive strides toward the prevention of violence toward Jamaican women, reframing the issue is critical. Intervention should be issued in a way that is culturally sensitive, but since intervention is barely existent in Jamaica, there are obvious complications (Bailey & Figueroa, 2015).
No one is going to ask for help if they think that asking make the situation worse or keep them stagnant. There is a reason why violence is still so prominent in the world. Also, Jamaicans, in general, are not specifically classified when statistics on violence or HIV/AIDS are presented; instead, they have been historically classified broadly as African Americans (Gillespie-Johnson, 2008). This unfortunately is another cultural issue that makes it difficult for the government and healthcare system to actually intervene and make changes. Then there are obvious biological connections that correspond to the violence of women. This includes any physical or mental trauma that is done to the woman. This may be a mental response or a physical consequence of getting hurt.
Intergenerational trauma also reinforces biochemical/ mechanical models of health because there is a distinct concatenation of events going on during the act of violence. This form of trauma can affect a person’s life and be the root cause of many health issues as time goes by (Bombay, A., Matheson, K. & Anisman H, 2009). PTSD and depression are prime examples. Furthermore, think about how this goes beyond the woman. If abuse is inflicted on a pregnant woman, the baby is at risk. Not only physically at risk, but also psychologically at risk post birth. Meaning that the child may develop issues when encountering the opposite sex (Bombay, A., Matheson, K. & Anisman H, 2009). Furthermore, witnessing violence sometimes leads to the increased chance of participating in violence. Children are very moldable.
Now, there are a few problems that arise in biomedicine. To start, biomedicine is a model that is based on healing the individual and not the population. Unfortunately, this makes it so the mental repercussions of violence are left out of the equation. Also, intergenerational trauma is not a chemical change that physically takes place within the body. I do believe that a lot of adjustments would have to be made on the biomedical system to ensure that issues such as violence actually become resolved in the future. My last issue with the biomedical system is that the body and the mind are treated very differently. For example, many people are looking to heal the body with care, but the same people do not take into consideration that the mind needs the exact same attention.
Bailey, A., & Figueroa, J. P. (2015). A Framework for Sexual Decision-Making Among Female Sex Workers in Jamaica. Archives of Sexual Behavior,45(4), 911-921. doi:10.1007/s10508-014-0449-1
Bombay, A., Matheson, K. & Anisman H. “Intergenerational Trauma: Convergence of Multiple Processes among First Nations Peoples in Canada.” National Aboriginal Health Organization, Nov. 2009. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2018/06/4.2-Intergenerational-Trauma.pdf
Gillespie-Johnson, M. (2008). HIV/AIDS PREVENTION PRACTICES AMONG RECENT-IMMIGRANT JAMAICAN WOMEN. Ethnicity & Disease, 18(2 Suppl 2), S2–175–8.
Joralemon, Donald. “Recognizing Biological, Social, and Cultural Interconnections” and “Expanding the Vision of Medical Anthropology.” Exploring Medical Anthropology. Routledge, an Imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, 2017. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2015/05/1.1-Joralemon.pdf
Kasinof, L. “Women, War, and PTSD.” Washington Monthly, 2013, washingtonmonthly.com/magazine/november_december_2013/features/women_war_and_ptsd047354.php?page=all.
Sperlich M., Julia & Seng. Survivor Moms: Women’s Stories of Birthing, Mothering and Healing after Sexual Abuse. Motherbaby Press, 2008. http://anthropology.msu.edu/anp270-us18/files/2016/06/4.1-Sperlich-and-Seng.pdf