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The Bruck Foot Industry Alive And Well

The Bruck Foot Industry Alive And WellOn December 1, 2012, Antigua & Barbuda and the rest of the Caribbean reflected on what the United Nation has dubbed “World AIDS Day”. Truth be told, we simply cannot celebrate winning the war against HIV/AIDS locally.  

Our national sentiment about this public health issue is still franchised by fear, guilt, sadness and pain, while the statistics we collect are caricatured by a piecemeal approach to evidence based research. Both our general sentiment and statistical reporting on HIV/AIDS are fundamentally flawed.  
 



For example, the national statistics revealed on July 2012 that there were 25 reported new cases of HIV/AIDS. However, this data only accounts for persons who had contact with our public health facilities and personnel. Notice more importantly that reported cases from persons who have the means to be screened by private doctors and facilities were not included in our data collection protocols. We also learned that of the 25 new cases, partners were not notified that their wives, husbands, boyfriends or girlfriends were tested positive for HIV/AIDS.

These partners are victims of our public health educational deficit program. They should have been encouraged to come in to be tested. More acutely worrying is the fact that infected partners refused to identify their spouses whose health might be at risk. If we do the math based on reported HIV/AIDs cases, it is safe to say that we have as of July 2012, a likely one hundred and twenty five cases (125) of persons infected with HIV/AIDS.

Taking a more regional survey of our problem, according to WHO/UNAIDS/UNICEF (2010) 'Towards Universal Access: Scaling Up Priority HIV/AIDS Interventions in the Health Sector’, the statistics show that at the end of 2009, an estimated 240,000 people were living with HIV in the Caribbean. Some 17,000 people were newly infected during 2009, and 12,000 people died from AIDS.

In the Bahamas more than 3% of the adult population is living with HIV. Higher prevalence rates are found only in sub-Saharan Africa, making the Caribbean the second-most affected region in the world. The most tragic news for the Caribbean is this: Half of adults living with the virus are women. Overall, the main route of HIV transmission in the Caribbean is heterosexual sex, much of which is associated with commercial sex. Sex between men is also a major factor in some countries' epidemics. Cultural and behavioral patterns (such as early initiation of sexual acts, and taboos related to sex and sexuality), gender inequalities, lack of confidentiality, stigmatization and economic need are some of the factors influencing vulnerability to HIV and AIDS in the Caribbean.

When the spate of sexual videos encircling Antigua & Barbuda within the last two months caught the attention of the adult world with more appetizing intrigue than moral outrage, I recognize that we have a much larger problem brewing locally.  In fact, I was made to understand that there are some 40 such videos of children in school uniforms who are smiling for their close-up in the local porn world.  

This prompted me to investigate this situation. My sample included 25 men ranging from school age to senior citizens. Fifteen of these men indicated that because of the economy they are enjoying their best sex years ever. They further explained that young women in need of financial assistance would approach them with request for “manhood favors”, at a price ranging from as little as EC$ 10 to EC $30.00 ($ 4.00 US to $ 12.00 US). These favors include “blow jobs “(oral sex) to “mashing up the pussy using plain wood” (sexual intercourse without condoms). One respondent in his early 70s reported that his sexual mate was only 19 years old, and proudly boasted that “she had 9 CXC subjects… she pretty bad…. and she is killing me for wan baby.”

In our historical background, sexual promiscuity was prevalent and men wore it as a badge of honor. When King Sugar died and Cotton became Queen in Antigua & Barbuda, sex ruled the day. In fact, the late Father of the Nation, Papa Bird, ran an election campaign in 1976, with the campaign promise to end the “Bruck Foot Industry” and to give women back their dignity.

In those days, it was not uncommon to hear men saying that “dem jus a cum from bruck a foot” or women looking to do the same.  I can recall back in 1973 one of our local calypsonians penned a song “Pork Gone Up.” The song was very popular and was even made more popular after the government radio station censored the song from public consumption.

Given the double meanings in folkloric genres, “pork” means a woman’s sexual organs.  Our attitude of objectifying women, rather than valuing them holistically, could promote dysfunctional behaviors to sexual intercourse, and consequently lead many to practices of promiscuity. 



Recently, I was in Guyana attending a non-profit group meeting when the question of HIV/AIDS came up for discussion. Grassroots and professional persons from all station of life explored how best to promote safe sex to the wider population. I was particularly moved when a very conscious young lady made a very strong point that the group must become more understanding of specific challenges of single mothers.

She illustrated that if a man is offering a struggling, single mother GUY$10,000 to have sex without a condom, especially when feeding the kids is foremost on her mind, that single mother will be less concerned about the risks of HIV/AIDS, and she is most likely to do what is in the best interest of her children. She may even venture to pray and ask the Lord for protection and mercy so that she can give her children a hot meal.  This not only speaks to the socio-economic factors that underlie HIV/AIDS but the reckless disregard for the wellbeing of women that some men bring to sexual intercourse.

Since most of our Caribbean households are made of single mothers, many of our women face this kind of dilemma on a daily basis, and given increasingly tough economic situation, I am afraid that some women maybe rationalizing the need to put food on the table against their better judgment, while some men are preying on our most vulnerable females.  

To win the war against HIV/AIDS, the Caribbean needs to put a face on HIV/AIDS. Infected persons must be willing to share their stories with others in the form of preventative education, so that the idea that the man, women, man boy or girl next door can get it, will be firmly communicated.  As Tom Clancy said, “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.” I dare add that reality is made from the use of commonsense. Changing our attitude about sex begins with a revised sexual orientation guided by principles of both safe sex and abstinence. This is the only way we will put the "Bruck Foot Industry" out of business.  

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15 Comments In This Article   

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Hypocrites

#15 Shad » 2012-12-05 20:05

Idont want to piliticize the issue but I can recall before 2004, there were numerous marches and campaigns against the 'ills of society'. Now, there are a lot more prostitution and gambling and the hypocrites have fallen asleep. one prominent person's name is even now associated with a soon to be opened gentleman's club.
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Shad

weak economy is the problem

#14 wadadli24 » 2012-12-05 19:21

There are different types of prostitution. Having sex with a ** at a brothel where safe sex is always practice is much safer than the sugar daddy type of prostitution. In the sugar daddy type of prostitution, one man will be having relationship with more than one woman at the same time(unprotected sex) and supporting them financially.
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wadadli24

@ Helen Carr

#13 Antiguan » 2012-12-05 16:09

I guess you never heard about the black tennis player Arthur Ashe who contracted HIV from contaminated blood? Abstinence is great, but not practical. We need to come with positive suggestions to battle this debilitating disease! I don't see you or the members of the Christian Council or the Evangelical Association picketing these places - even that would be more practical than writing on a blog about abstinence.
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Antiguan

@ Rupert J. Blaize

#12 Antiguan » 2012-12-05 16:01

Sir, this is just not true! In countries where prostitution is legal, the HIV contraction from prostitution is no higher than in other sectors of society, and is lower than most others - like drugs (needles).

The problem is, where prostitution is not properly legislated. It is either we allow it and regulate it properly, or we turn our backs and allow it to "fester" all over the country.

Also, you go ask the medical professionals, they will confirm that if you shut down the "homes away from home", it will drive prostitution and HIV underground - beyond the ability of the medical personnel to properly monitor and check it. Hope you come back to vote ALP to bring back hope and opportunity to our country!
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Antiguan

@ Rupert J Blaize

#11 2 Cents » 2012-12-05 12:14

I can't understand your point. Are you suggesting that to end prostitution regardless of the name, would eliminate the spread of HIV/AIDS? This is the fullest level of thoughtlessness I have seen. There are numerous cases where good wives and good husbands get HIV without being involved in prostituion. This article is not about re-naming prostitution. Instead, it is about the way in which our cultural attitude towards sex facilitates promiscuity and consequently heighten the potential for the spread of HIV/AIDS. Also, Dr. Thomas is arguing that we don't even take the time to collect accurate data so that mount a solid public response to this spreading problem.

Amb. Wheel and come again... Like the UPP is making you come up with bruck foot ideas. Stop it. Please use your position to make insightful contributions to our souring problem...
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2 Cents

@ Invisible Hand

#10 THINKING BIG » 2012-12-05 11:58

Please read the article more closely. Clearly your evaluation of Dr. Thomas' analysis is way off course. First, he is capturing the underlying sources that contribute to the spread of HIV/AIDS in CARICOM and A&B. Second, the sample size for qualitative research are usually small, thus 25 respondents could capture wider sentiments depending on variables used. Third, your comment is as much guity of what you condemn Dr. Thomas for. You are advocating an particular view by offering a critique that is already implicited framed by your own intellectual biases. Therefore, because you have not accounted for your own prejudices, your evaluation of this article is not grounded on the merit. Didn't the doc show that local data collection methods are as flawed as cultural sentiments regarding HIV/AIDS?

Kindly take the time to search for the overriding theme/purpose as well as context that evoked Dr. Thomas' carefully written article. Now don't go pre-K on me Invisible Hand. Let's engage critically stimulating conversation...
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THINKING BIG

hypo crates

#9 Hypocrite » 2012-12-05 11:39

hipo crites
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Hypocrite

ARTICLE IS INTELLECTUALLY DISHONEST

#8 Invisible Hand » 2012-12-05 10:39

Intellectual dishonesty is the advocacy of a position known to be false. An argument which is misused to advance an agenda or to reinforce one's deeply held beliefs in the face of overwhelming evidence contrary. I get the pont the writer is trying to make, but he must accomplish his ends using intellectually HONEST, substantiated data. For example he says,

"Overall, the main route of HIV transmission in the Caribbean is heterosexual sex, much of which is associated with commercial sex." I challenge to present one reputable, peer reviewed study to support that assertion.

The writer also tries to cloak his intellectual cxixes with psuedo'science. Only in Antigua can an intellectual say he conducted a study with 25 men and seek to extropolate his findings unto the population of Antigua. This kind of blatant distortion is not to be expected from a PhD who should undersand the applicable rules of quantative analysis.

The comments reflect visceral agreement with your conclusions and that is to be expected in Antigua. I am offended by your science, or the lack thereof.
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Invisible Hand

@ Helen Carr

#7 skyewill » 2012-12-05 09:55

I agree with you 110% but remember these so-caled innocent young women pray on the elderly also. as young as 16 they making their move on the old men with money. it's really bad and with the new private clubs, members only, you warn fu know.
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skyewill

RE: The Bruck Foot Industry Alive And Well

#6 MD » 2012-12-05 09:45

interesting article
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MD

RE: The Bruck Foot Industry Alive And Well

#5 tenman » 2012-12-05 09:38

Very alarming article. I recall talk over a year ago of bringing legislation to ensure that statistics were garnered from private testing. Our policy makers prefer to continue making decisions in the dark.

..
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tenman

Nice Gyal 50% off

#4 skyewill » 2012-12-05 09:17

I was surprised when a nice girl wrote me on face book to know if she can get with the Skyefather. This young lady cut style pan me for years. She explained how hard things were and wanted to know it I was still available. Left her number and everything. Just a few months ago I met an 18 year old really good looking at the old Benjies building and she said it was not something she does often but she was hungry and offered a proposal to sell her goods at a discount. But Granny say Trust no custom, form or fashion, some may look like angels bright. “NO DEAL”
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skyewill

Ambassador

#3 Rupert J Blaize » 2012-12-05 07:36

Prostitution by any other name is still prostitution and unless we initiate a "War against prostitution" refering to a "war against HIV/AIDS" is pure fantasy
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Rupert J Blaize

RE: The Bruck Foot Industry Alive And Well

#2 Morris » 2012-12-05 07:17

Excellent piece!!! When basic needs are difficult to attain, individuals very rarely worry about other needs and will risk their health to stisfy those basic needs.
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Morris

Ms

#1 Helen Carr » 2012-12-05 06:58

This just shows that the word of God is true.
Fornication is a sin and is the sin that defiles the body internally.
If we are obedient to the word of God, there would be no such decease as hiv or aids, because people would only engage in sex with their husbands and wives.

That's why the Apostle Paul wrote, it is better not to, or then get married.
But people think that liking someone or sleeping with someone just for money or a quick fix it is normal. But there is no normality in sexual promiscuity, it is a demonic sin that is causing lives. The Apostle Paul had abstain from fornication.

Some of those Senior Citizen pray on young females and makes and vulnerable women.
Time to name them, if the whole Communities will be wiped out because of this desease. Husbands will be left without wives, wives will be left without husbands and children will become orphans, families will be left mourning.
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Helen Carr

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Dr. Oswald R. Thomas

Dr. Oswald R. Thomas Dr. Oswald R. Thomas is a Certified and Registered Clinical Hypnotherapist / Psychotherapist with the American Board of Hypnotherapy, the International Association of Counselors and Therapists, and the International Board of Medical and Dental Association. He is founder of the Thomas Center Human Development, Inc. and serves on Bronx Mental Health Committee, served on Community Board #5 in the Bronx, and the Bronx Neighborhood Planning Committee as Chair of the Youth Committee. With a Ph.D. in Psychology, a Master’s in Public Administration, and a Bachelor’s of Professional Studies in Human Services, Dr. Thomas is a counseling therapist/Behaviorist, and Professor at Metropolitan College of New York.

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