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Danielle Toppin

RH Reality Check, Caribbean

Danielle Toppin writes from Jamaica. She has experience with gender and development, and will be covering reproductive health issues in the Caribbean and Latin America.


All Work

In Jamaica HIV Affects More than Just Health

Danielle Toppin

In a cultural climate with too many examples of stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV, a proposed plan in Jamaica to protect the right of HIV-positive workers could symbolize a major step in the way the country treats this key issue.

Domestic Violence Is an RH Issue

Danielle Toppin

The presence of violence - be it emotional, physical or sexual - diminishes the ability of healthy individuals to demand healthy sexual relationships, and by extension a healthy sense of self.

Jamaica’s Flawed Abortion Laws

Danielle Toppin

Illegal abortions are one of the top ten causes of maternal death in Jamaica. Safe, legal abortions are only accessible to those who can afford one. Existing abortion "common law" in Jamaica is ambiguous and differs than legislation on the books. Jamaica is in the midst of a heated abortion debate.

Child Brides: In Jamaica, Too

Danielle Toppin

Although ideas regarding men's right to ownership over 'their' women in intimate relationships can be found across communities, the practice of cohabitation between under-aged females and older men is predominantly found in communities marked by poverty.

Valuing Tradition, Valuing the Elderly

Danielle Toppin

In a number of communities across the Caribbean, we have come to place an extremely high value on youth, moving away from traditions that elevated our elders to a place of respect, and in essence silencing their voices and increasing their vulnerability.

HIV Is Not Just a Health Problem

Danielle Toppin

By emphasizing the social dynamics that often contribute to the transmission of HIV, policy planners and practitioners rightly see HIV as a social and development issue, not just as a health issue.

On “Jamaican-ness” and Gay Textbooks

Danielle Toppin

A textbook that was allegedly proposed by the Jamaican Ministry of Education for inclusion in the home economics school curriculum made mention of same-sex unions and families, and a public outcry on the meaning of "Jamaican-ness" ensued.

Centralizing Stories

Danielle Toppin

No matter how we feel about adolescent sexuality, the fact remains: real girls and boys are choosing to, or being forced to, enter into sexual relationships every day. The stories are numerous. We need to listen.

Abortion: A Question of Morality?

Danielle Toppin

Despite steps taken by many Caribbean nations towards ensuring women’s right to safely terminate their pregnancies, cultural debates which pit abortion against God omit two key factors from the debate: women’s right to choose, and the psychological, social and emotional impacts of their choices.

Assassins on the Loose?

Danielle Toppin

Danielle Toppin explores an HIV prevention strategy proposed by Dr. Ray Noel, HIV Specialist for the Tobago Health Promotion Clinic, in an article in the Trinidadian newspaper The Sunday Guardian.

Lost in Translation

Danielle Toppin

Jamaica has put measures in place to support the Convention on the Rights of the Child and protect children from sexual abuse, but cultural issues must be addressed in addition to legal reform.

Children and Commercial Sex Work

Danielle Toppin

Children's participation in commercial sex work brings with it some particularly troublesome concerns in the areas of sexual and reproductive health. There is an urgent need for programmes and policies that meet the needs of this vulnerable group.

Changing Views on Adolescent Sexuality

Danielle Toppin

In the Caribbean, views are slowly changing from conservative attitudes to more positive understanding of healthy adolescent sexuality. Educating teenagers honestly will empower them to make wise decisions.

Becoming a Woman through Motherhood

Danielle Toppin

Editor's Note: Today we welcome Danielle Toppin, writing from Jamaica. She has experience with gender and development, and will be covering reproductive health issues in the Caribbean and Latin America.


On November 4, 2004, I discovered that I was pregnant. In that moment, my life began to change. The ways in which I saw myself; and in which society perceived me shifted. It was as though I had finally fulfilled my role as a woman. I had proven my worthiness.

In the Caribbean context, ideas of motherhood are inextricably linked with ideas of womanhood. In Barbados, meanings are attached to fertile and infertile female bodies; with value being attached to those women who reproduce, and withheld from those women who, either by choice or by nature, do not. Mothering has become synonymous with "becoming a woman", achieving an almost mythical status as the natural path that women's lives should take.

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