Hours after he was released from police lock-up last week, dancehall artiste Dexta Daps dropped some new music on his eager fans. The track, Breaking News, explores an all-too-familiar domestic violence storyline, but incorporates a controversial line, which has been causing quite a buzz on social media.
“Yuh too nice to him, di bwoy love him belly jus poison him,” is the line that has inspired the #BreakingNews challenge currently taking on Instagram.
A host of videos have appeared on social media showing women mixing concoctions of various substances including laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, bleach and salt to carry out the act encouraged in the song.
During Prime Minister Andrew Holness’ COVID-19 press briefing on Monday, one social media user even asked him to “address the issue where Dexta Daps a tell the ladies fi poison we”.
A tweet made to appear as though it was coming from the prime minister’s official Twitter account then surfaced yesterday discouraging women from hurting their spouses.
Though the response to the song’s message has been largely comedic, the issues arising from domestic violence are serious.
Dexta Daps’ attorney Peter Champagnie told THE STAR it would be too presumptuous for him to speak on any lyrics of a new song from his client.
“But, at the end of the day, as an officer of the court, a justice of the peace, and a responsible citizen of Jamaica, I would not encourage any female in reaction to being battered, to visit violence upon their spouse, because that is wrong,” he said. “There is a domestic violence act and it allows for an easy remedy if you are battered and being abused in a particular way. You can apply for a restraining order and it doesn’t take a long time. It can take a day or a few hours. I have done it.”
While agreeing that resorting to violence is not the best option for women being abused, women’s rights activist Nadeen Spence put herself in the shoes of an abused woman.
“I imagine that if I’m in a relationship with a man and he’s beating me and me can’t get out no matter what me try and me decide say me a go poison him or whatever to try and get out of the relationship, I am entitled, and me a go argue self-defence,” she said. “There is already a body of literature and conversation out there in the public that speaks to women’s rights to defend themselves against men who are abusive. I don’t know if it’s a defence in the Jamaican jurisdiction, but in the US there’s something called the battered wife syndrome that can be used as a defence.”
Speaking to that syndrome, Champagnie said that if a woman ends up killing her spouse to get out of an abusive relationship, the clause could present an argument for a lesser sentence.
But pointing out that the woman would still need to face the consequences of her actions, he again discouraged persons from resorting to violence.
“In the unfortunate event that a life is lost under those circumstances and the young lady is able to establish – whether through medical records or witnesses or revelation through counselling – a history of abuse, it will go a far way in the reduction of sentencing but it is not a complete defence. A life was still lost and although the court would empathise, punishment will be meted out,” he said.