Caribbean Men At Risk – The Bahamas Journal

A Caribbean organisation is determined to address the many social ills that plague Caribbean men and lead to highly violent societies, a noted clinical psychologist has said.

By Nikia Deveaux

Dr. Peter Weller, chairman of the Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMAN), said that economic disadvantages, lack of education, the introduction of the narco-ecomony, and the Caribbean man’s skewed view of masculinity have all impacted the region’s men.

The psychologist said that the organisation aims to bring men together to take action.

It also targets men throughout the Caribbean who have similar issues that lead them to a life of crime, abuse, and other social ills.

“The Caribbean man is at risk for various social ills and we have to understand those processes, deconstruct them and find solutions, but men have to be involved,” Dr. Weller said.

“For too long most of the social services and much of the research that has gone on has not involved men, which is why there is a need for a network like this.”

Dr. Weller said the characteristics that are seen as defining a Caribbean man are issues of authority and control, responsibility, issues of sexuality, having multiple partners and lots children.

“The Caribbean stereotype is that you need to have money, women and children. Many men in the Caribbean have been programmed to believe that those are the characteristics of manhood,” he said.

According to the psychologist, an important part of CariMAN’s work is to encourage men to look at themselves and understand who they are.

“Part of the challenge is how can we redefine manhood and become a man in a Caribbean context, with all its diversity, and find spaces to make that happen in a healthy way,” Dr. Weller said.

He also noted that young men view drug dealers and other men with authority and control in the world of crime as more powerful and more of an attractive role model than a man who is trying to make an honest living.

Dr. Weller said he believes that this view has been influenced by the media which portrays the criminal, the womanizer and the rich powerful man in an attractive way.

“We are going to now have to actively re-socialise Caribbean men,” he said.

Dr. Weller said the only way to achieve this feat is to engage young men in discussions which help them to think outside of the box, and separate self from role.

“If we can get men to think critically and think that I am me, but I can have a job that is menial, but it doesn’t change who I am. I think this is the step in the right direction,” he said.

According to Chairman of No Excuse Bahamas and local representative for CariMAN, Sidney Strachan, local officials are currently in talks with organisation officials on establishing a Bahamian branch of the organisation.

Dr. Weller is in the country, to represent CariMAN in a domestic violence forum.

The forum ends today with an all male discussion on domestic violence and violence in general.

 

This article was originally published in the Bahama Journal on September 27, 2010.

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