Thursday, November 24, 2005

Stella Says…My Heart is Broken

(Originally published in the Kaieteur News on 24 Nov 2005 and again on 27 Nov 2005)

There are but a few times each year when a nation is called upon to stand together as one against the darkest forces of evil that can pervade a community. This week Guyana has been so challenged.

This week an 18 year-old girl was brutally raped by three men whom she knew and trusted. This week innocence was crushed. This week a beautiful life has been trampled.

I have an 18 year-old daughter. She is the most beautiful young woman I have ever laid eyes on. She has her daddy’s cocoa colour, my late mother’s mouth and my features. She is the oldest of my children and when she was born I would stare at her in her crib for hours. I still steal these moments every chance I get.

She is very intelligent and has the capacity to be anything she wants to be in life. She is ten times the leader that I will ever be and she doesn’t even know it yet. She is self-confident, but not arrogant – though she can be a snob at times and I am quick to chastise her for such transgressions. I told her from the time she could talk that a woman can be beautiful on the outside, but if she is ugly on the inside – then she is just plain ugly.

My daughter has the type of personality that lights up a room just by entering it. When she darkens a doorway, the occupants of the entire room will pause to look at her beauty and to wait for her smile that can chase away the darkest storm clouds.

Her big brown eyes are the first thing a person notices, they are so striking. But when you get to know her, you soon realise that her vivacious personality dwarfs those eyes like a giant oak tree dwarfs a blade of grass. And those eyes burn with an irresistible love for life.

I know I sound like a gloating mother, and to some extent I suppose that would be true, but if you ever met my daughter you would know that every single word I have told you about her is true.

She is away at college now and sometimes I miss her so much that my heart physically hurts. We talk on the phone all the time, but that just isn’t the same as seeing her face to face. I know she has to prepare for the incredible future that lies before her. I also know that a good portion of my job is done now and it is time for her pave her own road in life, but it’s not easy to be so far from her.

I worry about whether she is eating right. I worry that she will forget to study. I worry that she might make the wrong decisions, even though I know she will and that is part of the learning process too. I worry about so much, but most of all I worry about her safety.

A mother’s worst fear is that a vile criminal will steal her daughters smile, crush her beautiful personality and destroy her promising future. This week in Guyana, there is a mother whose worst fear was realised. I can feel this mother’s pain almost like it is my own and I sit here in tears as I type this column.

This mother cannot protect her daughter from what has already happened. She cannot give this girl peace and joy. She cannot tell her daughter that everything will be all right, because everything will not be all right. This girl has been crushed. She will forever live with the memories of the sights, smells and pain that was inflicted on her by three of the most loathsome type of animals to ever walk the earth.

My heart breaks for this mother and her broken daughter. I’m sure every mother who gave this event two minutes of consideration feels the same way, and the father’s too for that matter.

The question is this though, how many Guyanese gave this event more than a passing glance or a shaking head? After all, this is just one more girl on a long list of sexually and physically assaulted women in Guyana. What is one more broken woman?

Guyana, I can not let this opportunity pass me by to beg you to see this girl as more than another news story or statistic. I implore you to see this girl as I see her, my own daughter. She is your daughter. She is your sister. She is your wife. She is your mother.

What is one more broken girl in a country full of broken women? Guyana let this girl be the one who wakes the nation up. Let this violation of innocence be the occasion that causes an outcry for justice. Please don’t let one more girl feel the hopelessness of watching her assailants walk away without retribution for what they stole from her.

Guyana is not like these vile animals who prey on the weak. These putrid villains have no heart. They have no soul. They can steal the sunshine out of an 18 year-olds smile without even a twinge of guilt. But you have a soul Guyana! You have a heart!

I am today, with my face and shirt wet with bitter tears, begging you to do something about this wicked act Guyana. This evil has to be stopped. We can no longer treat these acts as if they are simply a part of our every day lives. We must demand that the police and the courts do EVERYTHING possible to bring this girl the justice she deserves.

In fact, I am calling on each of you to demand justice for every woman who has a sexual or physical assault case pending. Women of Guyana, stand up and demand justice. Men of Guyana, protect your daughters by demanding the incarceration of these animals.

There are but a few notable times when a nation must put its apathy aside and unify as one to demand that righteousness prevail. If it means a peaceful march in front of the courts, then so be it. If it means a demonstration for the President, so be it.

Whatever it takes Guyana, don’t let the fire that burns in your daughter’s eyes be smothered out. Let your voices be heard across the globe, “Don’t you dare touch my daughter!”

Writer’s Note: I just found out that a march and rally is being organised by the Men Of Purpose (MOP) on Friday in observation of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. All men, women and children are all welcomed to participate in the march. It will start at 14:00 hours at the junction of Main and Quamina in Georgetown. I encourage everyone to attend this march.

This is your chance to make a difference, Guyana. Take a stand against this wickedness and tell these vile criminals to stay away from your daughters.

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