Dutty Man has made me start to understand the pain of girls who have been sexually abused, not just in Jamaica but throughout the Caribbean. We get a lot of feedback at shows, and on social media, and people go into details; and not just to say I was abused – but exactly what happened to them.
To me it’s like a shock, knowing that people out there in the world – women and children, boys and girls are going through this. It’s a whole lot to process, because I can really imagine being the victim.
Words can’t explain. How is this even possible? How can so many children be affected and yet their stories aren’t being heard?
Fans sharing their experiences of abuse
It made me realise that if I only looked at Dutty Man as just a song when I wrote it, now I must take it so much more seriously.
I always wondered what kind of father I would become. I always wanted to be the best father because I didn’t grow up with mine around, and so I’m learning from good fathers around me.
As a father, I need to keep my eyes and ears open – because as you see many of these children are abused by family members. It almost sounds unbelievable: how can an uncle, brother, cousin or a father be doing this to our children? But it is happening.
Boys growing up thinking abuse is OK
The culture is changing, and our boys are growing up and seeing abuse and feeling like it is acceptable. They can see their uncle or bigger brother molesting younger children and feel like this is fine, this is cool.
I remember in high school you would hear about the conductor and your classmate. Growing up, I used to see girls that I liked, and then the reality was that it was the conductors on the buses who were twice their age, who could be their father – they were the ones involved with them.
That is just one example of the kind of influence boys are being exposed to and why they would never report a situation like this. If we don’t shape our society to let everybody understand that this is wrong, then the situation will just continue.
Learning from young collaborator Teshae
Working with Teshae on Dutty Man taught me that if you are patient with children then there is a whole lot that you can teach or bring out of them in terms of their talent. Working with her on this song, I thought it was the best thing that I could do, because people connect more with a song like this coming from someone like Teshae. After all, hers is the age group that is being affected – the younger ones.
Even the whole idea of working with Teshae and having her come and sing at Reggae Sumfest was a very wise decision, because if I had tried to reach the masses with my voice singing it, people would have listened – but would they really and truly have listened like they did with her? Teshae is a part of a movement, of youth, of children expressing themselves to adults, and that is as powerful as it has ever been right now.
If as parents, if as guardians, if we can be patient enough to listen to children, there is so much that we can hear that we could probably not imagine and that is something that as an artiste, as a man and as a father that I can thank her for.
What’s UNICEF doing?
Romain was speaking with Joy Crawford, co-founder of Eve for Life, to whom he was donating a portion of revenue from sales of Dutty Man. UNICEF proudly supports Eve for Life as part of our work to prevent and reduce violence against children. Going forward, UNICEF will focus increasingly on advocating for increased measures for the prevention of sexual violence against girls.