Jamaican man responds to claim that 85% of young women from Mount Salem are prostitutes.

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Mark Hylton and Omar Sweaney
Mark Hylton and Omar Sweaney

Omar Sweaney, the Managing Director of Jamaican Social Investment Fund (JSIF), made what many Jamaicans are calling an outrageous and ridiculous statement.  According to Sweeney, 85% of the young women living in Mount Salem, a large community in St. James, Jamaica are prostitutes.

Below is a response to Sweeney from Mark Hylton, who is himself from Jamaica.

I felt it was necessary to get a better understanding of Mr Omar Sweany’s postulation (could have been his prostitution with tomfoolery to justify the Zones of Special Operations, ZOSO in Mt Salem), that 85% of young women in Mt Salem are involved in prostitution. You see, these are egregious comments, which have the potential to lead to an erosion of confidence in Mr Sweeney’s ability to lead the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF). What I mean therefore is that Mr Sweany may need to resign as Managing Director of JSIF.

For, you see, Mr Sweany said inter alia, “In Salem for example, we are seeing statistics there, where 85% of young women are involved in prostitution.” A definitive, unequivocal, unambiguous statement of fact. I read and listened to the clip and while Mr Sweany was not lambasting, downgrading or belittling in his tone, his postulation incorrectly and inappropriately stained the character of a critical mass of the young women in Mt Salem and unfortunately – ZOSO went into Mt Salem primarily to deal with our murder problems, perpetuated mainly by males but again, as we are wont to do, our women folk hobble from the ashes as collateral damage.
I find it particularly disdainful for, I grew up in Mt Salem for a significant part of my life – Francis Isabella Road (Tenement), where I attended the Mt Salem All Age School and I later lived in Catherine Mt for a decade, as an adult. I know some gritty sections of Mt Salem – section’s where broken family, persistent urban blight, lack of opportunities and the corralling of our people by a polarizing political system – established on distribution, paternalism and outright gangsterism have combined to drain the dignity and worth from the residents in places like Mt Salem.

Mr Sweany did not just present the debilitating, unjust, untrue outcome of a flawed methodology to stain Mt Salem, He also attempted to convince the entire nation with his skewed information. Information which sadly, will at some point, end up as the fact in publications of the World Bank, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund and other such agencies, when they analyse our human development index and socio-economic progress. Mr Sweany, while in his urbane, genteel, measured tone spoke conclusively from his position of trust and authority, which has painted a diverse community of lower and lower middle Jamaicans as social failures.

Mr Sweany from his current privileged position has chosen to scar the image of the young women in Mt. Salem and also, their children. So now, when the females of Mt Salem turn up at resort establishment for a job, when they turn up at a foreign consulate for a travel document, when they land on foreign shores, when they sit in a classroom with my daughter, and when they sit in the boardrooms of reach and power eight times out of ten, the person relating to them will see them as prostitutes and may consider their matriculation to be, as a result of prostitution. Mr Sweeney has done some damage here.

I have no reason to ascribe malice to Mr Sweany’s motives but I certainly have concerns about his competence in formulating methodology and his interpretation of the results. He must have known that what he read was unadulterated rubbish and he must have seen his clear gender debasement. It was thoughtless of Mr Sweany to have stated what he stated and it cannot be has simple an explanation as being misquoted, as public officials are wont to do, when they stuck their heads up their ass. So Mr Sweany has a mess on his hands, he has stuck his fingers in some excreta.

Get to the departure lounge Mr Sweany. This ease with which we malign, denigrate, belittle and discount our women folk must be rethought. Mr Sweany, you just told Malachi, my 11-year-old son to consider eight of ten girls in his class from Mt Salem – children of prostitutes. That can’t be my brother, go recalibrate.



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