Monday, October 15, 2012

A better way for justice

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 6 October 2012)

If I had a wish for Domestic Violence Month, it would be that every female victim of this beastly crime would garner enough courage and foresight to testify against her offender. Sadly, that is not the case and many offenders walk away with a smirk on their face ready to abuse again.
There are many reasons victims of domestic violence do not testify against their abusers. Some women are financially dependent upon the man and it is difficult for these women to see a way to support themselves and their children without the man and they often choose to continue with the abusive relationship so there is food on the table and a roof overhead.
Some women do not testify against the offender because they truly believe the offender can and will change. There is a sincere love for the man and they disbelieve that a man they love could be so cruel, that is until the next violent episode. He will beg for forgiveness, bring flowers or gifts and tell her how much he loves her. Everything is just fine, until it isn’t and she is once again bruised, bleeding or dead.
Other women do not testify because of terror. These women have no pretty delusions that everything will be fine, they know firsthand just how deadly the offender can be. They have seen it firsthand. They have felt it on their body and seen it in the abuser’s eye. This victim also knows that if they testify and the offender still goes free (as happens frequently), she will pay a hefty price for her testimony and perhaps the ultimate price.
It is for these reasons and many more that victims of domestic violence do not testify against the offender. Sadly, the end result is more abuse and sometimes death. There simply has to be a better way to pursue the domestic violence offenders.

Join the ‘Badass Sisterhood’

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 29 September 2012)

There are reports of groups of women in Northern India that visit abusive husbands and beat them up with bamboo sticks unless they stop abusing their wives. After Guyana has yet another brutal murder of a woman and her two children by her partner, the formation of such a group sounds refreshing.
In India, much like Guyana, it is difficult to get law enforcement to take domestic violence seriously. So these women, who are called “The Gulabi Gang” (translated as ‘pink gang’ from Hindi) because of the pink saris worn by its members, took it upon themselves to protect the women.
Sampat Pal, a mother of five and former government health worker (and a former child bride) formed the group in 2006. The group is made up of women vigilantes and activists originally from Banda in Bundelkhand district, Uttar Pradesh, India, but reported to be active across North India as of 2010.
In 2008, they even stormed an electricity office in Banda district and forced officials to turn back on the power they had cut in order to extract bribes. They have also stopped child marriages and protested dowry and female illiteracy. This is one ‘Badass Sisterhood,’ as it has become known on the Internet where this story has been viral for months now.
After reading about the woman who was murdered this past week by her partner, I then read this quote on Facebook, “A woman needs a man to protect her like a daughter, love her like a wife and respect her like his mother.” I know the woman who posted this quote thought it wise, but I was upset by it.
Why does a woman need to be protected? So that men do not hurt her, right? Which means we are expecting men to protect us from men. What, then, happens when those men who are to be protectors become the ones from whom women need to be protected? We know what happens. Women die.
This logic was quite evident even to Susan B. Anthony who lived in a time of so-called gentlemen when she said, “I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself, and there I take my stand.”
Can women escape from men? Tradition holds that women need to be protected, so they must have a man in their lives. However, as reality has sadly proven time and again, it is from those very men that women need the most protection. As a result, if men do not “protect” women, and law enforcement does not protect women, are women to just cower in the corner and wait to be demeaned, raped, beaten and to eventually die at the hands of the man who says he loves her?

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Leave him

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 22 September 2012)

This week, a wife went to court for throwing the spectacles of another woman into a trench because her husband was rubbing the other woman’s face. Any woman on the face of this planet can sympathise with this wife’s feelings of pain, betrayal and disrespect after seeing what her husband was doing with another woman in public.
Let’s face it; if a man is rubbing the face of another woman in public, he is probably doing much more behind closed doors. A woman is better off without such a man. He will cause her nothing but more hurt and pain if she does not leave him. Yet still, in this story, by tossing the other woman’s glasses into the trench it was the wife who ended up being arrested and in court.
Sisters, we have got to be smarter than to be the one who ends up in court while the cheating man walks away with a smirk on his face. The victim in this scenario was the wife, yet because of the way she reacted, she was the one who was placed before a judge. She should have just walked away and kept walking far away from that man.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

The end of men

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 15 September 2012)

There has been much buzz this week about a new book, entitled “The End of Men and the Rise of Women,” by Hanna Rosin. The book, based on her very popular 2010 Atlantic cover story, “The End of Men,” explores the much talked about predicament of why men, who have for millennia dominated every aspect of the human experience (except birthing a child), are now in large part failing to adjust in a society where women are thriving.
In a September 10 column on Rosin’s book, titled “Why Men are Fail,” New York Times writer David Brooks illustrated the dire situation men find themselves in: “In elementary and high school, male academic performance is lagging. Boys earn three-quarters of the D’s and F’s. By college, men are clearly behind. Only 40 percent of bachelor’s degrees go to men, along with 40 percent of master’s degrees. Thanks to their lower skills, men are dropping out of the labor force. In 1954, 96 percent of the American men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Today, that number is down to 80 percent. In Friday’s jobs report, male labor force participation reached an all-time low.”
The article said Rosin argues that women “…are like immigrants who have moved to a new country. They see a new social context, and they flexibly adapt to new circumstances. Men are like immigrants who have physically moved to a new country but who have kept their minds in the old one. They speak the old language. They follow the old mores. Men are more likely to be rigid; women are more fluid.”
And while some may say that it is just how men are and they cannot help themselves, the article said Rosin’s books posits, “This theory has less to do with innate traits and more to do with social position. When there’s big social change, the people who were on the top of the old order are bound to cling to the old ways. The people who were on the bottom are bound to experience a burst of energy. They’re going to explore their new surroundings more enthusiastically.”

Monday, September 17, 2012

She will not shut up

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 8 September 2012)

Last week, I wrote about local female musician Jackie Hanover, who has a song out that encourages women to be independent and to make a good life for themselves. This week, I want to highlight another local female musician who is also sending out a positive message for women.
Lucieann, from Berbice, has recently released a powerful song, entitled “I am Woman,” that speaks to the issue of domestic violence. The titular woman of the song starts out talking about how the man tells her he loves her and needs her, but yet he likes to beat her “like a drum.” But, (Woohoo, there is a “but”!) according to the song, she is woman and she is strong and she is not going to put up with the violence for long.
The woman talks about the sweet talk from the abuser, who wants to show her the type of love that will make her blush. He is just going through a hard time and she should be patient… but all she sees are swollen eyes and broken hearts. She will not shut up, she is going to lift her voice, and she is going to make some noise (honestly, women have been acquiescent and silent for far too long).
The woman continues, saying she tried to deny the truth from the start and told herself so many lies. She gave love from her soul and all he did was beat on her bones. She won’t take it anymore. Good!!
There are so many women who do not want to admit they are in a domestically violent relationship. The myriad of reasons for not wanting to face the truth could include low self-esteem (feeling as if one does not deserve better), feelings of affection toward the abuser, fear of retaliation from the abuser, social expectations to stay within the abusive relationship, financial reliance on the abuser, social expectations to accept the abuse as part of life, and the list goes on.
Are you a victim of domestic violence? Do you think that you might be, but you are unsure? Wikipedia is not an authority on domestic violence, but the following definitions from that site can provide the reader with a description adequate enough to help determine whether she is a victim of domestic violence.

Saturday, September 08, 2012

An anthem for all women

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 1 September 2012)

They say art is a reflection of society. If this is true, the local female musicians are proving that the women of this nation are on a good path.  I have heard two songs from two separate female artists that show just how much the mentality of women is changing from that of brutalised victims dependent on the money of a man to that of an independent survivor who refuses to be a punching bag.
I came across the first song in July and instantly fell in love with it. Jackie Hanover both wrote the lyrics and sings the song, entitled “Ladies Anthem.” The lyrics empower and challenge women at the same. Take a look at the words of the song’s chorus:
Ah yo money buy de ford and de rover
De cute Chanel bag on yo shoulder
Cah you na beg no man fi nothin (You na beg no man nun)
No boy cyan see you out ah road
and ah pull off ya frock
Cuz him money buy it and him want it back
Cah you na beg no man fi nothin (You na beg no man nun)
These words show a new standard is forming in a society where women have been taught that it is acceptable to depend on a man for everything from food to shelter. This new standard being promoted in this song can be easily found in society. Just take a look around or talk to the women around you and it will become clear very quickly that women are deciding to take care of themselves instead of relying on a man to take care of them.