Friday 21 September, 2018

Mixed emotions for machete-wielding mother on child cruelty charge

Since coming out of lock up on Tuesday afternoon after being bailed by her cousin, embattled mother Doreen Dyer has hardly eaten anything.

Her mind is a jumble of competing emotions: anger and frustration at the desperate poverty she is mired in, shame at the images broadcast and comments on social media, relief that she has been released from lock up, and fear because she faces a criminal court case next Monday. 

She is light years away from the half-naked, machete-wielding mother who has been so demonised on social media since last week. 

"I feel good to be out (of lock-up), my neighbours dem come round and ah try cheer me up and talk to me. But I am going to lie down soon, mi stress out and mi head ah hurt me, but mi a clean up mi house and then go lie down," she told Loop reporter Claude Mills on Tuesday morning. 

She said that other community members have rallied around her since her release and have been trying to keep her spirits up with prayers and well wishes.  

The 44 year-old domestic helper said she has been struggling with her five children, including twins - for the past 13 years - largely by herself because she has been abandoned by their fathers. She said the sentiments expressed by her 21 year-old daughter, Sheryl, in an interview with Loop News on Monday, ring true. 

"It's true, everything she say is true. Mi work hard to send them to school, sometimes mi go hungry to make sure dem alright. Right now, mi inna one $5,000 debt right before mi go jail fi mek sure dem go school and have something. Mi owe a man $700 fi some banana and plantain so when me go work them can fry and eat while I am working. Yesterday, mi friend boil up some soup for me, but now mi don't have nothing to eat," she said. 

She grew up in the community of Bath, St Thomas where she attended Bath Primary and Junior High school. She has been working as a domestic helper, washing clothes for the past twenty plus years to support her family. She said that the father of the twins abandoned her when they were only two years old. Both turn 13 on October 29th this month.

Dyer's eldest daughter is 25, while her other older children are 23 and 21 years old. The children still live with her. 

Ms Dyer attends the Mount Calvary Revival church which helps her with her spiritual needs, but she has serious health concerns to contend with as she is an outpatient at the Bath clinic where she is dealing with hypertension. 

"My lawyer wants money, the way mi stress out, mi head a hurt me, mi not even know what to do. He wants $50,000 to start working and the court case is Monday," she said. 

The video of the mother beating her daughter has triggered widespread condemnation across Jamaica, including from the Child Development Agency which reiterated its call for a full ban on corporal punishment.