Sunday, July 30, 2006

Stella Says…We have all had a good dose of Silly Season this week

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 30 July 2006)

A columnist should be able to comment on current political and social happenings in a way that demonstrates the impact a certain event will have on the reader. With this in mind, I do not even know where to begin on the list of very bizarre events from this past week.

I suppose we should start from the beginning of the week when, after the PNCR publicly announced it would contest the elections under the One Guyana platform that included several smaller parties and organisations, the WPA then announce it would not to contest the elections and pulled out of the same coalition.

Subsequently, One Guyana coalition participants began dropping like flies. One by one, the One Guyana platform fell to pieces and is nothing more than a shell now with only the PNCR and the NFA left in this buddy system. Silly season is in officially in full swing.

In the middle of all this madness, Bibi Shadick held a press conference to say she didn't say what she said, but then said what she said again - plus a few more words. Ah, you just gotta love politicians, eh?

Minister Shadick, who felt she was misunderstood about her comment that the young women who claimed to have been drugged and forced to conduct sexual acts actually appeared consensual, decided to clear the air for all of us.

This time she said. ""What I said is that I saw two still photographs which had allegedly appeared on the Internet and in the absence of any other evidence or information it seems to be consensual sexual activity."

When I read this statement, I scratched my head and then cocked my head to one side thinking I had misread the statement. After clarifying that I had read Shadick's clarification correctly, I then shook my head at the silliness of it all. This official had just said the same thing again!

As if we didn't get it the first time around, the Minister made sure we understood this time around that the photos she saw appeared to be consensual. Only this time, she made sure we knew she lacked any other evidence by which to make her judgment.

Funny, I didn't know she was even a judge. In fact, if she is not a judge, she should not be giving her personal opinion on this matter at all. As a Minister of Home Affairs, she should be gathering every bit of evidence that she can possibly find to make sure justice is pronounced over the situation. I wonder if she has any more evidence than just those two still photos now?

I just adopted a little kitten for my youngest daughter. He is so adorable and starts to purr when someone walks up before they even start to pet him. I got him a cute toy that has feathers at the end of a long stick and he loves to chase it. It's funny to watch his eyes go in all directions when I turn the feathers in a circle. His eyes go round and round as if he is drunk, but he just can't take his eyes off of the feathers.

Although I don't have one, today's column should rightly have a picture of me with my eyes circling round and round. I'm sure that I am not the only one who feels this way about this silly week in Guyana's silly season.

I quickly found my footing though as my keen journalism senses kicked in and told me something was stirring. I often wonder if all of this silliness is part of a sinister plan of a cock-eyed politician who just wants to shift our focus to the silliness so he can wreak havoc elsewhere while we aren't watching.

Maybe I've just been watching too many cartoon shows with my daughter…or maybe I just can't believe all of this silliness is actually happening. Can a Minister of Home Affairs really attempt to clarify a silly statement by virtually restating the same thing? Even worse, does she think we are all so dense that we won't notice that she is saying the same thing? Now that is silly.

This is only the very beginning of silly season, so I can't wait to see what the next few weeks will bring by way of entertainment. No need to watch a re-run on television at all. Just pick up your daily newspaper or turn on your local news for all the entertainment you could possibly want from the country's leaders.

I wonder if we can get Smart and Sharp Robert Persaud to do a song and dance for us?

Email: StellaSays[at]

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Stella Says…This is how to fire a President

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 27 July 2006)

As an independent observer of Guyana's political system, I find often myself attempting to compare it to other political systems for better comprehension. This comparative method is often used in political science education, not only with the various political groups throughout the world, but also throughout history.

Hence, since I am obligated as a citizen to keep a vigil eye on the US government, I am obviously more prone to use this system when comparing politics. In doing so, I have found there is a lot more in common between the two systems than most would think at first.

Of course, both systems are democracies and both nations were colonised by Britain. Both countries have also had their share of racial upheaval. It is also interesting to note that although Guyana uses a Parliamentary System to govern and the US uses a Presidential System – the end result is often very similar.

As I consider the depth of what has been achieved during the last year in the US Congress, I find that I am sorely disappointed by lack of anything substantial. In fact, except for quibbling back and forth, the US congressional representatives have accomplished very little in this last year.

It seems like so much time is spent vying for position, trying to dog the other party and attempting to maintain a certain status in the eyes of the constituency that the leaders of the US government have accomplished virtually nothing of consequence in a whole year.

Likewise, between the two primary parties in Guyana, parliament has accomplished very little in the last year. When would they have had the time when they are so busy pushing blame and throwing accusations?

To be fair, the National Assembly did pass legislation raising the legal age of consent from a very young 13 to a more reasonable 16. This should have been at least 17, but at least the law protects the younger teenaged girls now.

This much I will give to the government. Aside from this legislation, very little else was accomplished in an entire year. That is unless you want to consider slinging mud and pushing blame a new way to govern a nation.

In contemplation of the severe lack of anything significant coming from either of these governments – Guyana and the US – I could not help but wonder if this is the wave of the future. Is this how governments around the world now conduct themselves?

Are the people burdened with archaic political systems that work against their best interest instead of progressive structures capable of locating weaknesses and making the necessary remedies as quickly as possible?

Unfortunately, if I were to answer my own questions, the sad truth of the matter is that we are trapped by our own political systems – the very systems created to protect and serve us.

Moreover, since those systems were also designed to be very cumbersome should we decide to make any changes, even to the dated aspects, is nearly impossible to garner enough interest from the general population to institute advantageous revisions.

This design was intended to protect us from the wayward politician, but it also boxes us in to a system that does not have the capacity to keep pace with the enormous social, financial and technological growth of today's world.

While technology progresses at the speed of light, our political systems move as slow as a snail. Coupled with the circus antics of our constantly bickering politicians, it is no wonder that the people are constantly frustrated with their national leaders.

When I vote for my political representatives, I do not expect them to come back a year later empty-handed. I expect to see that they have accomplished something of consequence with my investment of trust and taxes. If they have not, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will not get my vote the next time around.

Which brings us back to Guyana. Why is it that year after year the PPP and PNC accomplish nothing of consequence for the country, yet they get voted back into office at the next election?

I will make a very difficult confession. I voted for George W. Bush in 2000. I know, I know – but I really fell for his good ol' boy routine. However, after he invaded Iraq for no reason, there was no way I planned to vote for him in 2004 – and I did not.

That is the beauty of democracy. I have a choice. I fired George W. Bush in 2004. It's just too bad that there were more Americans who thought he was justified in an unprovoked attack against another nation than those of us who knew better.

The people of Guyana have a choice as well. When your politicians are behaving like they are the ones who make the decisions instead of the people, you can vote for someone who has a better grip on reality.

When your representatives produce nothing in a whole year, don't you wonder what on earth they have been doing with their time and your money? That is when you should be looking for a better representative.

And when your President is says all the right words, but produces nothing of consequence for the nation – then it is time to fire him and hire someone who can get some good things done for the country.

How do you fire a President? Why in the voting booth, of course.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Stella Says…Oops! Boy did I get it wrong about Rayvonne

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 25 July 2006)

On July 13 I wrote a passionate response to a letter responding to one of my columns addressing the issue of women as leaders in the church. In that column, it seems I wrongly assumed the writer of the letter, Rayvonne P. Bourne, was female when the person is actually a male. Oops!

This is the second time I have done this in two weeks. The young woman to whom I attributed the "Bibi the Blunt" email in last Sunday's column was actually male too. It seems I have some growing to do as well since I just assumed that since he was defending women, the person was female. It's good to know there are men who want to fight this fight as well.

I must extend my apologies to Rayvonne as well. That was simply a silly mistake to make on my part. I should never make such assumptions and this is definitely a lesson learnt. However, although I was wrong in assuming you were female, I was absolutely, unequivocally right about everything else written in that column.

I must be completely honest about this matter. Had I known that Rayvonne was just another man trying to put me and the rest of the females of the world in our place – as per ordained by God – I would not have even responded to his first letter.

I do not feel any sort of drive to try and convert the men who adhere to this ancient patriarchal system. However, it is one of my greatest desires in life to show women how they can rise above the trivial lot assigned to them by this system, which is why I responded to the letter believing it was from a woman.

As such, had I know Rayvonne's gender from the start, I would have read his letter and subsequently mentally filed it away.

Now it seems I have been unwittingly caught in this debate of Scripture since Rayvonne has responded to me yet again with a very lengthy sermon on how I am to submit to men because God made them first. Although the logic in this statement is childish, I will humour Mr. Bourne with a response for no other reason other than he has named me as his "best columnist."

This debate really is childish. It is as if two four-year-olds are squabbling over who got a certain toy first and therefore assumes full ownership of the toy. The thought never even crosses our minds that if the toy were a shared property it would be even more fun. However, continues to Rayvonne maintain that since men were created first by God, they are therefore given the entire world and the rest of creation to rule over – including women.

Rayvonne said, "I believe that Ms. Stella Ramsaroop does not understand the Bible and women's purpose here on earth today because she would have recognised that God has given man the power to have control over everything on the face of the earth."

He also maintains, "Nevertheless, everybody already knows the creation story and believes that women's role should be secondary in our society because in the bible women had never played an important role in preaching the world of God."

In fact, I completely understand the Bible and what it ascribes as the purpose of women, I just choose to believe that those Scriptures were written by insecure men and ignore them as yet another way one group of humans attempted to assert themselves as better than another group of human.

This phenomenon can be seen in other aspects of life as well, such as race, religion and even those with money. Humans are always trying to find ways to prove they are better than their neighbours. I do not believe I am any better than anyone else regardless of race, religion, monetary status, gender, education, etc.

Nor do I believe anyone else is better than me, or as Rayvonne so keenly stated it - as secondary - based on these trivial attributes. I believe the quality of a person is determined by what is inside. As such, the only way I see a person as lesser is if that person has less than honourable intentions.

This is why, Rayvonne, I am no longer a practicing Christian. I have chosen to believe what my gut instinct tells me is right instead of what some men have written. My gut tells me that women are not secondary at all; they are simply victims of a society that views them as secondary – like you.

As such, I choose to go with my conscience on this issue and refuse to placed in a position that views me as a lesser person simply because I am a woman.

Rayvonne made this request of me. He said, "Stella, please don't use your intelligence to impress and mislead people away from the bible. Let us put the teaching of God's words into practice and make a difference in our society today."

Rayvonne, don't you see that those teachings have led to a society where one gender feels justified in beating, abusing, raping and degrading the other gender in so many heinous ways that it is simply unfathomable? I cannot believe in any teaching that positions half of the world's population to such a humiliating condition.

The human race has risen above most of these abhorrent tendencies. We have done away with slavery and we have recognised there is no so-called "superior race." Likewise, females are not "secondary" to men any more than the person driving a clunker of a car is secondary to a person who drives an expensive car. This type of reasoning is simply juvenile.

It is time we stopped trying to find reasons to project ourselves as superior to our neighbour. The sooner we realise that the worth of a person has nothing to do with our physical attributes, the better off this world will be.

Rayvonne, your worth does not come from your race, your social status or your gender. Your worth comes from the fact that you care about your neighbour and show others respect – just like you have shown me respect. Our differences are the parts of us that give spice to life – not what makes ones of us better than another person.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Stella got me wrong, it doesn't signify that women are superior to men - Rayvonne P. Bourne

Here's a letter published in Kaieteur News:
Dear Editor,

On Monday July 10, 2006 a letter of mine was printed in the Kaieteur News expressing my disapproval that women should not be allowed to serve as priests and become leaders in the house of the Lord following an article I came across by columnist Ms. Stella Ramsaroop in the Kaieteur of 22nd June, 2006, in which she mentioned that a woman was elected to lead the denomination in the Anglican Communion worldwide.

However, I noted in my letter that women should not be allowed to serve as priests for several reasons, because God has chosen the man to be leader of the household and to be the spiritual leader when it comes to preaching the gospel.

In all of God's physical creation, he made only man in the image and likeness of himself. He gave only man dominion or rule over the creation. Additionally, I said that women were created for the comfort of men and not to have control over God's supreme creation. Mr. Editor, please don't misinterpret me like what Stella did. When I say that women were created for the comfort of men it does not mean that they are superior or inferior to men. It simply means that women are the partners and companions of men and are not inferior to men.

However, please allow me to respond to Ms. Stella Ramsaroop's [column] in the Kaieteur News on Wednesday July 13, 2006 challenging my position on women should not be allowed to serve as priests.

Conversely, she seems to have the wrong understanding and beliefs that women should be allowed to become religious larders in the ministry of God because of woman's ability to produce new life in the world. I do understand that Stella has a strong vision for women in having equal footing in every social, political, and religious aspect of life in society and to be involved in decision-making in the church.

I believe that Ms. Stella Ramsaroop does not understand the Bible and women's purpose here on earth today because she would have recognised that God has given man the power to have control over everything on the face of the earth.

God himself explained His purpose for creating mankind and besides that, God said: Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping things that creeps on the earth' (Genesis 1:26) In all of God's physical creation, he made only man in the image and likeness of himself. He gave only man dominion or rule over the creation.

Therefore, it would be extremely hypocritical and double standard in the eyesight of God in having a woman to become priest and bishop in our society today.

However, Stella added that before the Bible was written, women served as priestesses and larders of religion. Long before Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which all used Abraham as the central figure; the primary deities were female because of the woman's ability to produce new life. Conversely, if Stella Ramsaroop had examined the Scriptures very carefully she will find that women indeed held many very important roles in the history of Israel and the Church.

Women such as Ruth, Esther, and Deborah were important in both leadership and serving within the plan of God.

But in the New Testament we will find that none of them was chosen to be God's disciples, as well we will find that the older, experienced women (wives and mothers) were to teach the younger women.

Titus 2:3-5 says, “The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things—that they may admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.” Also find that many early Christian women taught their families out of the Word of God.

Paul reminded Timothy of the things he had learned as a boy from his mother and grandmother. In 2 Timothy 1:5, Paul wrote, “When I call to remembrance the genuine faith that is in you, which dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am persuaded is in you also.

“Clearly, Paul was referring to the fact that much of Timothy's faith and understanding came as a result of the example and teaching of his mother and grandmother! Obviously, they were very good teachers. Notice later, in 2 Timothy 3:14-15, that Paul refers to the teaching Timothy received when he was a young boy:

“But you must continue in the things which you have learned and have been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

All of that said, but when it comes to teaching in a Sabbath service, God gave that responsibility to the ordained elders of the Church—which were men. In 1 Timothy 3:1-2 it says, “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach.”

Throughout the New Testament, the ordained elders were to be the primary teachers during a Sabbath or worship service setting. Paul even wrote that women were not to be fulfilling that role within the Church: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.

And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (1 Corinthians 14:34-35). In his letter to Timothy, Paul added, “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence” (1 Timothy 2:10-12).These verses may seem to be a bit harsh or direct today; however, Paul was dealing with a number of issues that were resulting in people not serving or functioning in their respective roles—and there was confusion on this issue. These teachings are not a matter of ability or importance of women—but the teaching role that God defined in the Bible.

Therefore, women should not be allowed to become priests in societies of today. It is so amazing to observe how people can so influential and persuasive to stimulate and mislead people from their own beliefs and understanding of things in life. Ms. Stella Ramsaroop further stated that in the beginning before the bible was written women had served as priestesses and leaders of religion with the intention of fooling people that women had once play a role in preaching the word of God in the beginning.

Nevertheless, everybody already knows the creation story and believes that women's role should be secondary in our society because in the bible women had never played an important role in preaching the world of God.

Stella, please don't use your intelligence to impress and mislead people away from the bible. Let us put the teaching of God's words into practice and make a difference in our society today. However, we must not forget that in the beginning, when God created the universe the earth was formless and desolate and so on and then he created man and the lord God said, it is not good for a man to live alone and so he made a suitable companion to help him so then the lord God made the man fall into a deep sleep, and while he was sleeping, he took out one of the man's ribs and closed up the flesh and then he formed a woman out of the rib and brought her to him.

I do understand why Ms. Stella Ramsaroop has a mental picture for women in society of today and wanted to witness that they are on the same breath and length in making decisions in church and preaching the word of God.

But I am very sorry again, Stella, God has never given women the power to serve as priests. However, we must use the bible as example of life and forget about our personal beliefs and understanding about life and follow the teaching of the bible.

However, my best columnist, Ms. Stella Ramsaroop's desire for women in having equal footing in every social, political, and religious aspect of life was never intended to be so in the beginning because God would have had his disciples both women and men.

Traditionalists say that the 12 disciples of Jesus were all men and there is no precedent of women as priests and ministers.

Rayvonne P. Bourne (Mr.)

NOTE: Sorry, I am male, and wish not to be addressed as a female or (Ms. Bourne) because of my name Rayvonne.

Stella Says…Shadick should make things right or step down

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 23 July 2006)

It is not often that I will address one particular issue so many times in one week. However, if there ever were a time to focus on a single vital issue – it would be now. I have been so encouraged by the number of letters to the Editor this week addressing the issue of the alleged rapes, porn videos and Minister Bibi Shadick's irresponsible response to this matter.

From my unofficial tally of the editorials, columns and letters to the Editor from last Sunday through Friday, I have come up with no less than 13 opinions written on this subject – and every one of them were in strong support of the women. This is a clear sign that despite the number of rapes, domestic abuse cases and single mothers living in extreme poverty – there has been a definite shift in the way Guyanese view women.

Some letters displayed a clear outrage over Minister Shadick's flippant statement assessing the women in the videos as appearing to be consensual. These letters were not solely from women either, which is even more encouraging. It seems as if an abhorrent event like these porn videos has been the catalyst for turning the tide for women in Guyana. This notion is ironic, but also poetic justice.

In a letter from Andaiye Karen de Souza of the Red Thread, she strongly condemned Shadick's statement on this matter. Another letter to the Editor spoke of the Minister's double standard and one letter even called for Shadick's resignation. It certainly seems Bibi Shadick should answer for her irresponsible words.

I was tempted to write on the new poll that supposedly shows the AFC closing in on Guyana's political dinosaurs. However, I felt it would have been irresponsible of me to let this matter lose the momentum it has garnered with an outpouring of public support.

A young Guyanese woman sent me an email entitled, "Bibi the Blunt" this week. She said, "Can you please get all up in Bibi Shaddick face with your pen." (sic) This young woman seems to share the same sentiment as the rest of the letter writers this past week.

She also said, "Oh how I wish it was her daughter." If she were Bibi's daughter, I bet there would have been no rest in the Shadick household this week at all. However, since she is not Bibi's daughter, I have been asked to address the Minister on her behalf – and I am therefore more than happy to oblige.

I am sure the Minister knows full well what her role in this matter should have been. She should have supported the GPF's decision for a full investigation. She should have kept her personal opinion on the matter to herself and issued a professional statement in line with her supposed role of protecting women. She should have allowed a judge to decide if the sex acts were consensual instead of making such a reckless statement before a trial.

As the Minister of Home Affairs, she should have ensured a judicious resolution. As a Guyanese woman, she should have known how difficult it would have been for these girls to come forward. As a representative of Guyana to the UN, she should have known how many women are raped each and every single confounded day in Guyana – and that these young women could have likely been added to the very long list of victims.

As a supposed advocate of women's issues, Bibi should have used this unfortunate event to bring awareness to the plight of women in her country. As a member of the government, she should have found a way to use this situation to help form new legislation in support of protecting women.

Regardless of what Bibi Shadick should have done concerning these videos, the accusations of rape and a subsequent trial – she did not act in the best interest of the women of Guyana. Furthermore, she should now answer for her actions.

I could have ignored all of the letters to the Editor this week. I could have ignored the email from an incensed young woman. I could have had some fun with the new AFC poll or addressed the issue of government-controlled media (which the young woman who emailed me was also quite upset about).

However, I knew full well what should be done. I know that if I let this issue die before justice is dispensed then I am just as irresponsible as Bibi Shadick. The point is not whether these young women consented to the sex acts or not. The point is that Bibi Shadick's actions dismissed the accusations made by the women and by doing so further victimised every single rape victim nationwide.

Madam Shadick, you have a responsibility to the women of your country. You have a job to do and your entire female constituency is waiting for you to do it. You have been entrusted with the protection of an entire nation full of women and their best interests and it is time you started acting like you take that responsibility seriously.

An apology for your statement would go a long way right now Bibi. It won't undo the harm you have caused, but it would go a long way in attempting to win back the trust of your fellow countrywomen. It's time to make this right Madam Minister – or step down from your position of protecting women's rights.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Stella Says…How Does Guyana Measure Up in Gender Equality?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 20 July 2006)

(In light of recent developments with a certain Minister concerning the young women who claim to have been forced to conduct sexual acts against their will, I thought it would be enlightening to reprint this column from last March to examine these thoughts retrospectively).

On International Women's Day this year, the UN issued a statement calling for more women in the boardrooms for businesses worldwide. This move was to encourage more countries to follow the example of Norway, which recently passed a new law requiring every business in the country to have women occupy 40 percent of the seats in company boardrooms within the next two years or risk having their business dissolved.

Anne Katherine Slungard of Norway, who sits on the UN's Commission on the Status of Women, said of her country, "There were a high number of women in paid work. Norwegian women were also highly educated; 65 per cent of university students were women. So, there was a large pool of qualified women in Norway. The problem was that only 17.8 per cent of the board members were women. Because of the new law, however, Norwegian businesses were actively recruiting women."

With the percentage of women overtaking that of men in Guyana's higher educational system, this is certainly a feasible undertaking for this country that could be implemented in short time. I received an email from a wonderful Guyanese woman that agreed with a recent column of mine concerning the need for more women leaders.

However, the concern for this Guyanese woman – and for many others too - is whether developing countries like Guyana still struggle with a machismo mentality that views women as second-class citizens and sees a movement toward gender equality as a serious threat to the family unit and the society at large. This is a valid concern since there are still many who hold to this lesser view of women, however, I do not think this issue is limited to developing countries alone and also would like to see the U.S. follow in the footsteps of Norway and pass a similar law for gender equity in businesses.

According to the UN report, the Chairperson for the Commission, Adekunbi Abibat Sonaike of Nigeria, responded to questions of gender equality in the least developed nations in Africa in this way, "The African Union, itself, had made it explicit that, especially at the political level, women should be represented at the level of at least 30 per cent. In Rwanda, the representation of women and men was almost 50-50. The political will had been established in Africa. Education was the key to exposing women to different areas and allowing them to realize their potential. Poverty remained a constraint, however, and its feminization must become a thing of the past. She believed strongly that women would soon take their rightful place in society."

How does Guyana measure up to these types of international standards? According to a press release on Guyana's progress from August 2005 by the UN's Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, the nation still struggles with even the most basic of women's rights – protection against violence. The report said Bibi Shadick, Minister of Labour, Human Services and Social Security explained that the lack of financial resources was the most restricting factor to the protection of women.

According to Guyana's report to the UN on its progress toward gender equality, Shadick noted, "there are 65 members of the country's Parliament, of whom 30.7 per cent were women, and that women's participation on the Regional Democratic Council had increased from 21 per cent in 1997 to 30 percent in 2001." The report went on to say, "Although improvement had been recorded in women's representation at some levels of senior public office between 1993 and 2003, those numbers were still relatively low."

There was some very good news from Minister Shadick's report as well. "On the positive side, based on 2003 statistics, women were overtaking their male counterparts in middle management, and now accounted for 52 per cent of all such positions, as compared to 42 per cent in 1993."

Shadick also reported on the new legislation passed last year to protect women, Guyana's completion of a new National Policy on Women and the updating of its National Action Plan for Women for 2005 - 2007 that would "constitute a comprehensive approach to critical issues affecting women in such areas as health, education, employment, leadership, gender-based violence, trafficking in persons and HIV/AIDS."

Of course, my question is whether these plans are actually being implemented, how they are being accomplished and to what degree the new legislation is effective for its primary goal. It is great to make all the right sounds and to create an appearance of moving toward gender equality, but only to the point that it is genuinely effecting change on a national level. I cannot help but wonder if this is just another case when the government is talking the talk, but comes up way short of walking the walk.

Last year a small group from Canada spent a few weeks in Guyana working with the National Resource and Documentation Centre for Gender and Development to collect gender statistics in the country and create of a database to store the collected statistics. According to its report on the project, the organization, Queen's Project on International Development (QUID), was satisfied that it completed its goal of creating a way to maintain a constant source of gender statistics.

The participants from this organisation said, "We created this database, which is basically a collection of tables from a variety of different sources, using Microsoft Access. We sorted the information into six main categories: Population, Education, Health, Employment, Social Services and Crime." However, the group was concerned about whether the database would be consistently updated and maintained once they left.

I would like to know if this database has been maintained and, if so, what has the statistics in these various categories shown since the group left in August of last year. Surely during this time of focus on women's issues worldwide, Minister Shadick and the Guyanese government could provide its female constituents some idea of how they are progressing as a gender – or the lack of progress, which is also important to know.

It is essential for Guyana, especially Minister Shadick and her Ministry, to highlight its efforts towards gender equality if it is genuine in this desire. When the women of Guyana see they have the support of their government to step out and take their rightful place in society, any residual feelings of inadequacy from years of demeaning treatment and low expectations will fall to the wayside. Guyana should lead the way in gender equality, not be a nation that must offer excuses as to why it still cannot protect its women.

Email: Stellasays[at]

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

AFC Davids facing the Goliaths - George Carrington

Here's a letter that was recently published in Kaieteur News:
Dear Editor,

In response to that article which was captioned: “Stella says can the AFC deliver?” (Kaieteur News 17-06-06).

Well, Stella (first, it's nice meeting you) a pregnant woman would have to allow a midwife to deliver her in order to know whether that midwife can deliver. Deliver is used equivocally or in a double meaning.

Anyway, to deliver is to deliver. The AFC has the key to deliver and two meanings of key are: (1) means of advance, access, etc. (2) solution, which means solving or means of solving a problem.

The AFC has noted the continuous problems of Guyana , which the two major parties have been struggling and are still trying to solve over the years.

Out of this the AFC has put together potentially workable solutions.

The writer cautioned against rashly putting the AFC into power without first determining whether that baby party (as she conceived it) was up for the job.

The job is big, but appropriately I wish to recall the biblical fact of little David, a mere baby in contrast to Goliath, who aimed and struck him at the right place with a stone from his sling, and Goliath toppled! The AFC is aiming at the right spots of the social, racial, political and economic – to name a few – problems of Guyana in order to solve them. In addition, little Boy Blue can blow a big horn, but he has to know how.

The baby party may know how to deliver for Guyana , evidently impregnated with problems.

“But to take over the leadership of an already established nation, with previous problems, is a task that is most times beyond even the well intentioned leaders.”

Positively and optimistically these established problems are a task within the ability of the young energetic leaders of the AFC, coupled with their intelligence. The AFC would take the bull by its horns.

“Does the new party finally have the right type of leaders to help Guyana recover from a long history of problematic leadership?” the writer queried.

Problematic leadership arises from how leaders lead. If the leaders of the new party are not (a) egoistic; (b) not bent towards achieving personal ambitions; (c) not inclined towards self-aggrandisement, not scape-goating fellow leaders; (d) not tending to monopolise authority; (e) leading by example; (f) not indulging in double standards; (g) respecting fellow leaders; (h) not inefficient, then they can help Guyana recover from a long history of problematic leadership.

George Carrington

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Stella Says…I need to do some house cleaning with Freddie and Clement Rohee

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 18 July 2006)

I have finally made my move to Texas, or as Glenn Lall calls it, Bush land. This is a very beautiful state with a far more inviting climate than those states that have long, harsh winters. There are palm trees here and a nice breeze in the evenings.

However, although I still haven't moved into my house as yet, it seems I have some housecleaning to do for this column. Freddie wrote a quick response to my column last week where I basically called him a scaredy-cat for not addressing the Khan saga with more of his typically insightful treatises.

Freddie let me know in no uncertain terms that he is not a scaredy-cat and asked what I wanted to know about the Khan saga. Although I did provide a list of specific questions for Sweet and Sensitive Freddie, I will be more than happy to reprint these questions for him.

Freddie, what do you think about Roger Khan? Was he a hero or a zero? Is this whole saga justice in action or politics in action? Why do you think the PPP has taken a hands-off approach to the "kidnapping" of a citizen of Guyana?

Freddie, is Guyana better off with Khan gone and in jail in a land far, far away? Or will the whole country now go down the drain with him gone? Is there any hope of restoring justice and proper law enforcement in Guyana or should we expect "unofficial" extra-judicial acts to continue?

Now that I have that bit of housecleaning done, I wonder if Freddie saw Clement Rohee's letter to the Editor of Stabroek News this past Saturday. His review of the nation's media performance was indeed interesting – and parts of it offered some comic relief I needed to break up the monotony of my long-distance move.

With all of this hectic activity in my life right now, I was glad to take a break from the craziness to read Rohee's take on the various media contributors, which included listing Smart and Sharp Robert Persaud's column as a political heavy weight. Isn't that just too sweet.

The best part of his review said that Freddie and I project ourselves to be "experts in politics, philosophy, history, sociology, psychology, sports, music, movies, literature, dress, architecture, dance, supermarkets, the environment, religion, footwear and even car parts."

I feel the need to clear the air about this statement because I have never claimed to be an expert on anything. It just so happens that I do have an opinion on quite a lot of issues. And it is usually a very strong opinion as well. I think Mr. Rohee was being too kind by calling me an expert.

For example, I do not know anything whatsoever about car parts. I suppose maybe that one was for Freddie. Footwear is a whole different story though. I think I could quite possibly be an expert on shoes since I wear shoes every single day.

I do like to listen to music, read a good book and watch a riveting movie. Does that make me an expert? Nah. But you can bet your bottom dollar that I will have something to say about it. Speaking of bottom dollars, I LOVE supermarkets. Where else am I suppose to get my shoes, music, books and movies?

How did Rohee know that I love to shop? I hope that wasn't a stereotype because I am a woman. Maybe he was jealous because I didn't take him shopping with Khemraj Ramjattan in one of my columns.

More likely he is talking about Freddie's rants on customer service and price gouging. Customer service is an area that I know a thing or two about, too. I'm a bit disappointed that Rohee didn't mention that one.

I do love studying history, as Mr. Rohee was so kind to point out. I have talked about being a huge history buff and it was so kind of him to notice. Perhaps my passion for history comes from my love of learning. After all, we have so much to learn from our past. Or perhaps it just feeds my real passions in life.

I have two passions that surpass all these others – politics and religion, both of which I have studied extensively and continue to learn more about daily. I wouldn't say this makes me an expert. I would say this makes me a person with a strong drive for justice.

Both of these subjects offer ways to implement a form of justice – one way is through the people and the other way is through a power higher than the people. I simply cannot tolerate injustice and seek to find ways to realise the most reliable form of fairness and impartiality, which is why I despise corruption among political and religious leaders.

For example, I think it is ironic that a politician uses the letter pages to whine about those who write for those pages. Regardless of its content, Rohee's letter received its place in the letter pages even after another political party was denied the opportunity to run an ad on Rohee's party's radio station.

This is quite ironic indeed, since that radio station should belong to the people of the nation as a whole instead of solely to Rohee's party.

I think this takes care of my housecleaning for the day and I need to get my exercises done before the sun gets too high in the sky. Since Rohee said my columns are predictable, I'm sure he knew I was going to write this and what I was going to say even before I did.

That's good. I'd hate to stir the PPP out of their comfy, cosy complacency on such a beautiful day.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Stella Says…Bibi Shadick is just like the rest of the PPP

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 16 July 2006)

Here is the scenario. Some young women claim to have been blackmailed into performing sexual acts by some rich boys. Here is the government's response after viewing the aforementioned sexual acts that were posted on the Internet for the entire world to see by the same rich boys, "What I saw seems to be voluntary sexual activities."

The most absolutely atrocious aspect of this statement is that the Minister of Human Services, Bibi Shadick, made it. This someone who has represented the women of Guyana at international forums focused on the elimination of discrimination against women.

About a year ago Shadick reported the following to one such forum, "On prostitution, it was pointed out that legislation exists for charges under the Criminal Offences Act, but prosecution remains minimal… The reports say many are subject to exploitation and abuse from employers and clients and have little recourse in environments that they are often unfamiliar with."

This year Shadick simply dismisses allegations of sexual exploitation before a proper investigation has even been conducted. Even if these boys ever see a courtroom to face trial for these alleged acts, Shadick's words will reverberate throughout the entire trial and taint the process of justice.

Shadick's ministry started a magazine earlier this year as well called 'Woman Powah.' At the time of its introduction, she said the magazine had "a role to play in keeping women informed, and by so doing creating that awareness which is required for moving Guyana towards its goal of gender equity." This week Shadick has effectively undermined any ground she had previously gained in gender equity in Guyana.

The girls in question claimed they were forced to perform sexual acts against a backdrop of blackmail and the Shadick's cold and callous response after watching some video footage is to say that it appears to be consensual? This has to be one of the most irresponsible statements made by any member of the PPP to date.

Excuse me ma'am, but did you even talk to any of these young women? Did you bother to conduct a full investigation on these charges before making such a reckless statement? Or did you just watch a video clip and decide that the footage was all the evidence you required to dismiss these very troubling allegations?

Shadick has asked why these girls did not go to the law enforcement agencies or to her ministry to report their allegations instead of going to Kaieteur News. The Minister's actions this week have provided the best answer to her own question.

Shadick has treated these potential victims and their claims with disrespect and insensitivity – just like the poor girls expected. The same contempt shown toward women that this Minister appeared to scorn at an international level is exactly what she has shown toward her own fellow countrywomen.

Could it be that victims of exploitation know they can find a caring and sensitive ear at Kaieteur News? Could it be that they have come to expect the opposite from the government? Or could it be that there is such a fine line between the PPP and the role it is suppose to play as representatives of the people that victims know better than to mess with the PPP's supporters (or their children)?

I simply do not understand how can Minister Shadick determine that these acts were indeed consensual without a proper investigation? Does she know what happened before or after these video clips? Does she know if those girls were acting in their right mind or under the influence of some form of drug they were forced to take?

After displaying such a high level of insensitivity toward these young women and their situation, Shadick actually had the gall to suggest that anyone who has been a victim of such exploitation should come to her Ministry for help. Are you kidding me!

A year ago, Shadick told the international community that the lack of financial resources was the most restricting factor to the protection of women in Guyana. This is not the case in Guyana this week. This week, Shadick herself is the most restricting factor to the protection of women in Guyana.

Regardless of my feelings about the incompetence and ineffectiveness of the PPP, I have always strongly supported Bibi Shadick's role in attempting to bring a higher level of gender equality to Guyana. Now I think she was doing nothing more than blowing hot air just like the rest of her party.

There is absolutely no way that someone who is genuinely working to eliminate the exploitation of women would ever, ever, ever make such an irresponsible and reckless statement concerning an allegation of exploitation. Shadick's statement has done to these young women exactly what chauvinistic men have done for centuries – dismissed them as inconsequential.

It is time for the women of Guyana to start their search for a real champion of women's issues and get rid of this wanna-be advocate who has sabotaged a young woman's chance at justice before she even had the opportunity to be taken seriously.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Friday, July 14, 2006

Stella Says…I understand why Rayvonne believes that men are superior

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 13 July 2006)

I have waited a long time for a woman to write a letter to the Editor challenging my position on women serving as leaders in the church. At long last someone has done just that - and in a very respectable manner. I am so excited to finally debate an intelligent Christian woman on this issue.

On July 10, Kaieteur News printed a letter to the Editor from Rayvonne P. Bourne, who brilliantly countered my argument that women should be religious leaders. This is an idea that is just beginning to take root after thousands of years of patriarchal rule in most of the primary religions of the world.

However, at the same time, there are women ministers popping up everywhere – including Guyana. Rayvonne, whom I am assuming is female because of her name, is not as thrilled about this new phenomenon and uses Scripture from the Bible to counter my position on feminine leadership in religion.

She listed the names of several women who played "major roles" in the Bible, but never served as a minister or priest. Rayvonne also quoted scripture that mandated the submission of women to their husbands and, as the Bible declares, said that women were created as a comfort for men.

I have heard these Scriptures since childhood, so I know them all very well. Conversely, I cannot intellectually accept this subservient role of an entire gender based on religions that are basically some of the newest faiths on earth.

In fact, thousands of years before even one word of the Bible was written, women served as priestesses and leaders of religion. Long before Judaism, Christianity and Islam, which all used Abraham as the central figure, the primary deities were female because of the woman's ability to produce new life.

I know most Christians will read what I just wrote and mark it off as nonsense concocted by Darwinists just to lead people away from God. But I am no evolutionist and this information is actual archaeological fact. Whole civilisations have been found where the Deity was feminine even as recently as Ancient Egypt.

If you would like to know what ever became of these religions, one only has to look to the Bible. Many of those nations destroyed by the Israelites in the Old Testament worshipped feminine deities. Again, I know most Christians are nodding their head in ascent to the destruction of whole civilisations because they did not worship the God of Israel, but by today's standards that is genocide and simply barbaric.

In fact, Christianity has allowed for many barbaric acts. Slavery was long defended by Christians as being acceptable to God because there are Scriptures that seem to support the act. It is for sure that the Bible never once states that slavery is barbaric and inhumane.

Until just a few decades ago, slavery was still legal and acceptable. Had it not been for a few people, most of whom were Christian, who knew deep down that this practice was savage and felt that all people should be treated as equals, there would be whole races of people on earth still today that were slaves to other races.

Regardless of what the Bible says about slavery, we all now declare it to be illegal, barbarous and intolerable in any society. In fact, most of us would gladly fight to free anyone who was subjected to this type of deplorable situation.

Remember that it was just a few decades ago when slavery was tolerable. In fact, in the southern states of the US there were plenty of slaves who would say from their own mouths that the white man was superior to the black man. This is an identity complex many African Americans still struggle to shake even today because of the centuries of being subjected to such abhorrent treatment.

What is the truth? The truth is that the white man was never superior to the black man and slavery is a vile act.

Likewise, the belief systems of these new patriarchal religions that mandate the submission of women to men are just as barbarous and unacceptable as their stance on slavery.

Rayvonne is simply responding to my position by what one of these belief systems has taught her. She believes man is superior to woman just like a slave who believed his/her master was superior because the Apostles Paul and Peter admonished slaves in four separate Scriptures to obey their, "earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ,"

However, if Rayvonne had lived during the reign of a feminine deity, she would understand that women should indeed have "equal footing in every social, political, and religious aspect of life in society." The fact that we do not is just as preposterous as one race serving as slaves to another.

We see reality as we have always been taught to see it. If someone teaches me from birth that a certain colour is blue, and subsequently others then reinforce that teaching in my family, community, church, government, school, etc. – then I will believe the colour is actually blue.

But what if they are all wrong? What if blue is really yellow but no one wants to challenge the errant teaching because the one who said it was blue in the first place claimed to be speaking on behalf of God? In the end though, just because everyone believes this colour to blue does not indeed make it blue. In fact, it is still yellow.

That is exactly what has happened in feminine history. Only this teaching has gone so long without being challenged, for fear of being ostracised or even killed, that it is now accepted as truth. In the process the real truth has been lost.

What is the real truth? What is reality? The truth is that "in the beginning" woman was indeed equal to man. She was just as intelligent. She was just as capable of dealing with life's hardships. She was man's partner, not his property or his slave.

It wasn't until the rise of these patriarchal religions that she was denied basic human rights and subsequently demoted from equal footing. Likewise, it wasn't until she was denied an equal education under these religions that her intelligence was called into question.

I never believed in the inequality of women even when I was in the ministry myself. My husband was not the only one preaching while we were in the mission field. Just like those Christians who knew deep down that slavery was wrong and fought to suppress that vile act, I have always known that women are not inferior to men.

Today Christians conveniently ignore the statements that positively reinforce slavery in the Bible. My hope is that one day they will also conveniently ignore those derogatory statements toward women.

Rayvonne, I do understand why you believe what you do. However, I have already realised my aspiration to be on equal footing with men in every social, political, and religious aspect of life in society. This is not a dream for myself because I have achieved that goal for myself. This is my dream for you.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

What am I afraid of, Stella? - Freddie Kissoon

Here's Freddie's column today:
Stella Ramsaroop in her KN column yesterday entitled: “Why is Freddie acting like the PPP?” expresses dismay and chagrin at what she interprets as my deliberate avoidance of any analysis of the ongoing Roger Khan drama, from the time it started until the Americans applied rendition measures and snatched him away.

Stella ponders a question and comes up with an answer. I quote her: “Could it be that Freddie is afraid of what the mighty US might think if he says a cross word or two against them?”

I know a majority of people who read this column would not have perused all my columns from 1988 until now. Furthermore, I don't think my readers would have been acquainted with all of the daily articles for this newspaper. So, Stella, I would like to bring to your attention a dimension of my life as a columnist and a commentator in which I stand alone without a comparison. I have been the only opinion-maker in this country that writes a column under my name and have been critical of the US Embassy when that Embassy has offended the dignity of Guyanese.

I am assuming that when you refer to me being afraid of the Americans you really mean the US Embassy here, since the US Department of State would get their information about Guyanese writers and Guyanese academics from the US Embassy in Georgetown . I am assuming also that you are specifically referring to the Roger Khan drama because, as an academic, I have written many critiques of US foreign policy at international conferences and as a newspaper columnist. Which Third World scholar has not criticised US behaviour around the world?

I am not afraid to speak my mind, Stella. It is a genetically driven condition. One day it may undo me, but that is the life I know, and I will stick with it.

No other commentator both in the electronic media and in the print media has ever voiced any criticism or shown annoyance at something the US Embassy has done to individuals in this country.

They are simply fearful that if they do that they may have a visa problem. In all fairness to the US Embassy here, I don't think they will do that. I am sure Glenn Hanoman and Vic Puran will faster get an American visa than many applicants.

I have done several columns of hurtful attitude by the US Embassy against particular individuals, and I was not afraid to write what I believed in.

I remember way back in the eighties when I was a weekly columnist for the Stabroek News, I penned a piece entitled: “Who can get an American visa?”

It was done after legitimate applicants complained bitterly to me at how they were treated.

One person told me they lived in the US for four years as a student, then returned home. That person then applied for a visitor's visa but was turned turn on the basis that they would not return. That didn't make sense since the person had all the opportunity in the world to stay in the US .

We had a case where a UG student was given two consecutive visas while on exchange programmes. The third year the visa was refused. Again this didn't make sense because that student had enough time to remain in the US illegally

Last year, I did a column voicing deep frustration at the US Embassy for denying visas to seven children from the School of the Nations on a student exchange visit to Puerto Rico , even though the parents were not accompanying the kids. In another article, I chided the US Embassy for refusing a young woman from seeing her dying mother in New York .

I remember in that composition I mentioned the nonsense we have to put up with here in Guyana with Oprah Winfrey.

If that person was denied a visa by the Cubans or Venezuelans to see her mom in New York , it would have been all over the news.

I went on to state that people like Winfrey show us the plight of sick people in the US that need a new kidney or a new lung, but if you have the very same ailment in Guyana, chances of getting a visa to seek treatment in the US will be a remote possibility if you cannot show millions of dollars, even though your family will provide for you.

These aspects of my writings you are not familiar with, Stella. No other commentator in Guyana will go in that direction. They fear for their visa.

I hope I have managed to convince you, Stella, that I am not intimidated when it comes to expressing my feelings on wrong-doing, even if it involves the US Embassy. So why would I be scared to write on Roger Khan because I dread a negative reaction from the US ?

My life doesn't work that way, Stella. I did refer to Khan in several articles of mine. Then two Sundays ago, I demonstrated my understanding of what Khan stood for and the role of Winston Felix.

I guess you missed that one, Stella. I also did two articles on the rendition treatment Khan received. Rendition is illegal in international law.

Now, Stella, there are a lots of things you need to know about your adopted country, Guyana .

Let's start with the guy you like to poke fun at - Robert Persaud. When Joey Jagan threatened to slap me, only two organisations denounced that attack on the free press - my own newspaper and the Guyana Press Association. Robert Persaud told the media that he couldn't comment because he wasn't there.

I will add nothing further on that asinine response. The Stabroek News was totally silent. You can't look me in the eyes, Stella, and tell me you don't know why.

Because it was Freddie Kissoon, a guy that on many occasions has exposed the Stabroek for unprofessional journalism.

What is my point, Stella? Independent writers in this country have to tread carefully when we write on the drug trade and other sensitive matters.

Do you think, Stella, the PPP and PNC will mourn if I am hurt?

I am sure you know the answer. This is Guyana , Stella. I cannot answer your questions on why I am not writing on Roger Khan because you have to be more specific.

Tell me what aspects of this tragi-comedy you would like me to reflect on, and I will gladly oblige if I can. What motifs of the Roger Khan intrigue you want me to touch on? Tell me quickly.

Stella Says…Why is Freddie acting like the PPP?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 11 July 2006)

I try so hard to behave myself and I try to be a good girl. Really I do. But sometimes the mischievous side of me wins and that devilish tendency to stir things up a bit wins out over any desire I have to be good. Today is one such day.

Things are going fine at Kaieteur News and most of the columnists are getting along swimmingly for a change. Well, there is a little spat going on between Adam Harris and Peeping Tom. Other than that though, we are all one big happy family. I know I should just let things be and enjoy the peace and quiet for while, but what fun is that?

I think maybe its high time to stick my pitchfork in the backside of one of my fellow columnists. Give me a second while I adjust my devilish grin to seem more beatific and I will get to my point. I cannot tell you how disappointed I am with the lack of attention Freddie has given to the Roger Khan saga.

As I wrote in my column from last Sunday, it took me a while to write on the Khan issue because I did not feel I understood it well enough to write about it. However, I cannot help but wonder why some of my fellow columnists, who have a far better understanding of this situation than I do, have not really addressed the issue.

How is it that almost every Guyanese seems to have a myriad of opinions to share on the whole Khan situation, yet our precious Freddie – a man who has an opinion on everything – has no opinion on this weighty matter? Is the mighty Frederick Kissoon losing his edge?

To be fair, there was one column from our dear Freddie on the outlandish way the US whisked Roger Khan off to New York to face drug charges. However, this is a topic that no other Guyanese can stop talking about – so why is it that our beloved KN columnist has clammed up just like the PPP?

Could it be that our dear Sweet and Sensitive Freddie is afraid of what the mighty US might think if he says a cross word or two against them? Oh silly Freddie, I've been writing scathing articles about the Bush Administration from the first day it began publicly contemplating an unprovoked attack on Iraq and they haven't come and to drag me away yet. However, if my column goes missing for longer than a week – somebody should probably start asking some questions concerning my whereabouts.

Moreover, our dear Freddie – champion of the people and political guru – suggested last Friday that we should all just move on from this story that happened less than three weeks ago, yet he had no problem touching on the UG scandal again this past week although it happened nearly a year ago. I do not fault him for this at all. I just want to know what he really thinks about Khan.

Come on now Freddie, you know the score. Journalists are supposed to write about timely issues. You're a columnist and therefore expected to write about what the issues the people care about. We both know the one story on everyone's mind right now is Roger Khan. This is the hot story Freddie, but why are you backing away from the fire?

Maybe you're getting soft in your old age Freddie and can't handle these hardcore stories anymore. Have you finally lost the last of your marbles? Or worse, perhaps you have lost what little groove you had in the first place!

This is tragic indeed. We should institute today as a national day of mourning and lament the loss of our champion. Well, that is unless Freddie can come through and prove he can still get his groove on. Dear friend, for the sake of the country, I will even help you along with some benign questions (I'm trying really hard to adjust that devilish grin right now).

Freddie, what do you think about Roger Khan? Was he a hero or a zero? Is this whole saga justice in action or politics in action? Why do you think the PPP has taken a hands-off approach to the "kidnapping" of a citizen of Guyana?

Oh sure, Janet Jagan had some strong words regarding the US in the Mirror last Sunday, but what good will that do Khan in New York while the Jagdeo Administration sits on its hands in their make-believe world?

Let me get back on track. Freddie, is Guyana better off with Khan gone and in jail in a land far, far away? Or will the whole country now go down the drain with him gone? Is there any hope of restoring justice and proper law enforcement in Guyana or should we expect "unofficial" extra-judicial acts to continue?

Most of all though, I want to know why you are acting like the PPP and not giving this issue the attention it deserves. If I come and help you find your marbles, will you answer my questions dear Freddie?

Email: StellaSays[at]

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Women should not be allowed to serve as priests - Rayvonne P. Bourne

Here's a letter in today's Kaieteur News responding to my column "There has been yet another important victory for women" :

Women should not be allowed to serve as priests

Dear Editor,

I came across an article by columnist Ms. Stella Ramsaroop in the Kaieteur News on 22nd June, 2006, in which she mentioned that a woman was elected to lead the denomination in the Anglican Communion worldwide. It was very amazing to discover that a woman was elected to become minister in the house of the Lord.

On the other hand it leads me to believe that the Bible is no longer being used correctly in relating God's teaching in our society today.

However, this first denomination in the Anglican Communion worldwide having a woman to serve as a leader in the ministry has made this columnist Ms. Stella Ramsaroop very proud from a woman's outlook and prospective without examining God's words, principle and teaching in the Bible, and additionally wishing for the day to come for women to have equal footing in every social, political, and religious aspect of life in society and involved in decision-making in the church.

From a biblical point of view, and as a Christian, I believe it is hypocritical and dishonourable to select a woman to serve as a leader in the house of the Lord. This however, should be condemned instantaneously in upholding the true teaching of the Bible and following God's words and principles in the Bible.

God has given man the power to have control over everything on the face of the earth. God himself explain his purpose for creating mankind and besides that, God said:

Let us make man in our image, according to our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping things that creeps on the earth' (Genesis 1:26) In all of God's physical creation, he made only man in the image and likeness of himself. He gave only man dominion or rule over the creation.

Secondly, women were created for the comfort of men and not to have control over God's supreme creation, which means that they shouldn't be allowed to serve as priests and become leaders in the house of the Lord and to have control over mankind and God's creation.

However, God has never given women the power to serve as priest and leaders in church. He has given man the power to have control over the earth and its people.

Therefore, women should not be allowed to serve as priest and become leaders in the house of the Lord.

The Bible has a number of examples of women serving as leaders. Queen Esther was instrumental in saving her people from total annihilation by petitioning God through fasting and assisting in writing a decree to protect the Jews.

Other prominent women in the Bible include Ruth, Deborah, Rahab and Miriam. Although the women played major roles, none of them were ever ministers or priests.

God has chosen the male to be leader of the household and to be the spiritual leader when it comes to preaching the gospel. God inspired the Apostle Paul to write: “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.

And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church” (I Corinthians 14:34-35). The women were to learn while at church and grow spiritually along with their husbands, but God never gave them the role of preaching.

However, they were to take that spiritual knowledge and use it to serve others and also to teach their children.

Actually, the Bible is a book of history in teaching God's word, and we should use it on a daily basis as an example in following God's teaching and principles of life and by upholding and obeying his Ten Commandments.

Finally, I am very sorry to disappoint my best columnist, Ms. Stella Ramsaroop, for her aspiration, wish, and desire for women in having equal footing in every social, political, and religious aspect of life in society.

Sorry, do keep up the good work, Stella.

Rayvonne P. Bourne

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Stella Says…Guyana is desperate for a hero

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 09 July 2006)

Heroes come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are teachers who are heroes, parents who are heroes and, for some odd reason that I cannot understand, heroes can be found in almost every type of sports.

However, there is one shape in which I am sure a hero should never be found – in the form of a criminal.

Sweet and Sensitive Freddie suggested that Guyana should move on from the Khan saga in his column last Friday. I agree to the extent that there has certainly been a lot of drama about this man who has been accused of all sorts of contemptible acts.

I have been watching this whole saga with great interest because there was so much I did not understand. I did not understand why the government would not move to apprehend a known criminal. Or why there were some in a society overwhelmed with crime who actually held a criminal in such high regard.

There have been so many twists and turns to this storyline that it has been difficult to keep up at times. The last couple of weeks have been very enlightening to me now that more people have been speaking their minds on the subject. I have had more than a handful of "ah hah!" moments lately as one by one the pieces of the puzzle fell into place.

As such, I feel like it is time for me to finally speak on the subject as well. There is so much that could be discussed and debated on this subject, but in the end I feel there is only one overarching point that has continually assailed my subconscious throughout this whole ordeal – that Guyana is desperate for a hero.

This is a natural phenomenon of course. I do not believe there has ever been a time when humans have not sought out leaders who can be a beacon of hope and a standard of goodness. Yet in its desperate search for effective leadership, Guyana instead found a criminal cloaked in a champions facade.

I do not wish to debate what crimes this would-be hero is or is not guilty of committing. The list of accusations has included all sorts of fiendish acts including murder, drug smuggling and organised crime. A person guilty of even one of these acts is no hero. That person is a criminal.

Has Guyana become so frantic for a hero that it has turned to common criminals for leadership? From the outside looking in, this certainly seems to be the case. And if this is indeed the case, the implications of such a desperate act speaks volumes of those who are actually suppose to be the leaders of the nation.

Those things we consider noble and good quickly dissipate in a decadent environment. Debauchery and depravity replace the lost innocence and faith. What else can one expect? Criminals will rule the only way they know how – with criminal acts.

It is not as if criminals are going to stop their reign of terror and start living the life of an upstanding and productive citizen of society just because the people view them as a type of saviour. In fact, the criminal-minded will exploit that public trust in every possible way until they have drained the entire nation of every last ounce of goodness.

This is exactly what has happened to Guyana. While some naively believed they had found a saviour, they had unwittingly fallen into a trap that brought nothing but more anguish, torment and destruction.

Guyana cannot allow this misplaced loyalty to filter its way down to the next generation. If parents and leaders regard a criminal with high esteem, what sort of signal does that send to the youth of the nation? The children will naturally believe crime is good.

The whole concept of a criminal as a hero is so distorted that it reminds me of the false sense of family that gang life offers to a teenager seeking his/her identity in life. Looking for a hero amongst criminals is like looking for a delicate bloom in a landfill for trash.

For the life of me I cannot understand why some in a nation would embrace a criminal as a hero and at the same time snub other Diaspora who comes back to help their motherland using proper and legal channels. It really does seem as if Guyana shoots itself in the foot sometimes.

There are plenty of better places to look for heroes rather than criminal alley. For example, the father who works hard every day and loves his family – that is a hero. The single mother who finds a way to put food on the table for her children – that is a hero. The teacher who uses his/her own personal time to tutor a student who has fallen behind the rest of the class – that is a hero.

The doctor who treats his patients with dignity and respect – that is a hero. The politician who puts the people before money or power – that is a hero. The average Guyanese who is simply trying to live an honest and good life in a nation where crime is rampant – that is a hero.

Guyana is absolutely full of heroes. In fact, I bet you're sitting next to a hero right now. However, apathy and lethargy in the ranks of the nation's heroes has created a vacuum effect causing leadership examples of good behaviour to be sucked out while examples of bad behaviour have gladly replaced it.

What should Guyana's next move be? It would be good for the nation's heroes to start taking their proper place as leaders. It would also be wise to start putting the criminals behind bars where they belong so the youth of the nation can maintain the right perspective when it comes to right and wrong behaviour.

Guyana does not need a criminal saviour. It just needs for the citizens to band together as one nation for good and stop making excuses for the criminals who kill, rape, rob and deal drugs.

Email: StellaSays[at]

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Stella Says…Will the GPF arrest those responsible for that porn video?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 06 July 2006)

At times it is certainly understandable why the Guyana Police Force has such a difficult time apprehending criminals, especially when those criminals can disappear into thin air and be protected by the very citizens they torment.

However, in highlighting a letter to the Editor of Kaieteur News on Tuesday, July 4, I would assume the characters involved in this particular activity should be easily located.

S. Zulu expressed complete shock in a letter concerning a locally produced pornographic video that is now in circulation. If this is indeed the case, the fact that this is happening at all is reason enough for the GPF to jump into quick and efficient action to make sure this type of activity gets nipped in the bud as quickly as possible.

You know the old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It would be far wiser to spend the little time and resources it would take to shut down this operation now than to wait until it spreads and gets more sophisticated than the GPF can handle.

However, it is another fact that I find particularly troubling. According to this letter writer who viewed the video, the females who participated were both minors. Now Zulu did not state whether the males were also minors (a fact that is frequently overlooked because society often assumes the position that we should only protect the females from premarital sex).

On the fact that at least the females were under age the letter writer seemed certain and it is on this fact that I believe the GPF should be moving heaven and earth to find those responsible for the production of this video and putting then behind bars for a very, very long time.

Zulu bemoans the lost morality of the nation's youth. He said, "What ever happen to the morals and values which took precedence over the lives of our youth?"

I am not so starry eyed when it comes to premarital sex. I have always taken a more pragmatic approach with my own children and told them it is better to wait until they are married, but if they decide to start having sex before marriage I want to know so I can make sure they are practicing safe sex.

I know many people believe this position removes the fear that would prevent teens from having premarital sex. Realistically though, stop for a second and think about yourself and your friends as teens. In light of our own youthful experiences, how practical is it to naively believe today's teens will not have sex before they are married?

Biologically, it seems the teen years are when humans begin to develop into sexual beings, so the nature of teens to explore their sexuality is instinctive. Yet still, people are getting married and having children far older today than we have historically since our lifespan is longer now than it has ever been.

This will of course cause people to explore sex before they are married since they are biologically ready for sex before society declares them to be ready to be married. I hate all of the guilt that is attached to sex for teens, especially for young women. All this does is inhibit the beautiful intimacy that should accompany sex and create a barrier between two people who choose to share something beautiful together.

I would much rather make sure my teens are educated and practicing safe sex so they do not catch some disease than to live in some fairly tale life believing they are angels while they are out doing who knows what. As a result, I am very close to my oldest daughter and she can talk to me about anything concerning sex.

I am not saying this is how you should raise your own teen, it is just how I have decided to raise my own. Parents must decide for themselves the best way to raise their children.

Having established my pragmatism about teenage morality, there are certain areas in which teens should continue to receive protection from society. This list includes drug dealers and paedophiles. It also includes those who would exploit them for sex, such as pimps and porn producers.

While teens may be biologically ready to decide whether they want to have sex with someone they care about, they certainly cannot even begin to understand the ramifications of putting that sex act on a video for thousands of people to watch.

They have no idea how this could follow them around for the rest of their lives or how they have been exploited for money and sexual gratification. This is why the GPF should be doing everything within its power to hunt down those involved with this porn video and take the proper action against them.

If those young women (and men) are indeed minors, then I believe there are laws that should judiciously take care of the person who produced that video. If the males in the video are not minors and the females are, then the GPF has all the evidence it needs to put those paedophiles away for a good long time too.

I wait with baited breath to see how quickly this will be handled. I am very interested to see if this will be another one of those times when hypocrisy rules because most fathers and brothers do not want their female relatives to be taken in by such criminals, but since they would also to watch the video, they will take no action against those responsible for the exploitation of someone else's daughter and sister.

Such hypocrisy is the standard by which females have long been cruelly subjected. Domestic abuse is another issue that is given a lot of wordy consideration, but rarely enforced by the very ones who inflict it. Equality in pay rate is another issue in which women suffer disparity in society. There is a lot of hot air that floats around about it, but we all know the real story since single mothers still continue to live in poverty at a far higher rate than men.

It is almost like the world thinks it should be enough just to talk about these issues and never make any real progress to remedy the situation. Which is why society needs more women in the decision-making roles of law enforcement, judicial and political (law-making) roles.

Well GPF, when are you going to arrest those responsible for that video?

Email: StellaSays[at]

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Stella Says…Ladies, do it for Guyana

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 04 July 2006)

I went to the movies with my family this past weekend and saw a preview for an upcoming movie about a man who took some jailed prisoners from two historically and notoriously rival gangs and taught them to play football together as a team.

The focus of the film, which is based on a real story, seemed to be that the gang members were able to reach past their long history of hate for each other to prove that they could accomplish something significant together.

Themes such as this always make me think about the hatred that flows so deep in Guyana. If criminal gang members can find a way to work together for a mere sport, then surely a country of intelligent and even-minded people can put aside their hatred and work together for a higher cause as well.

In the AFC's Sunday column written by Sheila Holder, she made a point that should be taken to heart by the women of Guyana. She said, "Women across the political spectrum should mobilise, as other women have done elsewhere in the world, to impress upon the major political players that we desire an end be brought to the political bickering they have engaged in for generations; to end the misuse of state resources and institutions by the current PPP/C government to allow for truly free and fair elections; and for peace and harmony among our people to prevail during this elections period."

I truly believe with all of my heart that the future of Guyana could be radically altered in a positive way if the female citizens of the country took their rightful and proper place and demanded an end to all of the hatred that has been the cause for so much death, destruction and poverty.

Don't get me wrong, there have been some very good men who have tried to reunite Guyana as one country so it could finally focus on something besides its racial division. However, I believe the women of this country have the capacity to take up this challenge and see it through to the end.

For example, regardless of her political affiliation, Gail Teixeira has proven to be one of the bravest Home Affairs Ministers that Guyana has ever had. By taking such a strong stance against the drug lords, she has proven that she has more guts than any man in Jagdeo's cabinet (I don't hear any of them making such a strong statement against this illegal activity).

Sheila Holder's column sent out a rallying call for all of the women of Guyana to unite as one, regardless of the historical racial divide, for the betterment of the country. I second that motion.

It is time ladies from around the world stopped sitting by and allowing the men to drag us through their wars and power struggles without so much as a peep from us. This call should be especially pertinent to the young mothers of the nation, because mark my words ladies, if this nonsense does not stop now, your little boys and girls will be the next generation of Guyanese who will have to live in poverty and abundant crime simply because the government will not work through their racial differences.

This year in Liberia, the women (and some men too) decided it was time to band together for the good of the nation and put a woman in the highest seat in the nation. The same thing has happened in Chile, Germany and Jamaica as well.

This is what a Newsweek article from April 3 had to say about the new Liberian president. "Johnson-Sirleaf's ascendance is the most dramatic development in a quiet revolution transforming Africa. Across the continent, women's empowerment initiatives, disgust with male-dominated politics-as-usual and the inspiring examples of a few female leaders are propelling women to positions of clout in record numbers."

So when will Guyana's women become so disgusted with the nation's "male-dominated politics-as-usual" and unite like the women of these other countries to bring the change the nation should have seen decades ago?

Why not put my challenge to a test? Ladies, take a week and listen carefully to the conversation around you. Are the men talking about what can be done to bridge the racial divide in Guyana? Are they trying to find ways that ALL Guyanese can prosper and live in peace? Or are they still fighting their fellow countrymen and pushing blame for the nation's ills on the other party?

If the men around you are doing the former and they are working toward a better Guyana instead of more power for just a portion of Guyanese, then you should join them in their effort. If the men are doing the latter and ripping Guyana apart more each day with their hatred, then it is time for the ladies to stop waiting for the men to do what is right and do it themselves.

In Sheila Holder's words from Sunday, "Women should position themselves between the old political forces to prevent the realisation of the predictions by the prophets of doom, so that an environment of political stability could develop in order to bring in the dawn of a new era to end the physical deprivations of our people and the mental shackles of racial politics. Women must debunk the myth that the PPP/C owns East Indians voters and the PNCR owns voters of African descent."

Ladies, it is time to stop submitting to the archaic notions that your voice does not matter and that one woman cannot make a difference - because while you cower away you're your responsibility in the political sphere, Guyana is being shredded to pieces. Do it for your children. Do it for yourselves. But most of all do it for Guyana.

Email: stellasays[at]

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Stella Says…Do you want government to protect you from yourself or a media that gives you too much information?

by Stella Ramsaroop

(Originally published in Guyana's Kaieteur News on 02 July 2006)

It was about a year ago that I first wrote about the importance of the media to any democratically inclined society. However, one year later we find ourselves faced with yet another affront to the principles behind the freedom of the press.

This week's offence is not nearly as severe or dramatic as the one I first wrote about last year when President Jagdeo was suing a newspaper for printing a letter to the Editor from a private citizen that challenged the President's behaviour.

This time the media is being shut out of an event they would normally be expected to cover. There was also another incident earlier this year with the Police Officers' Conference as well.

If one takes the time to contemplate the weight of all of these events in just a single year, it could easily be reasoned that the Jagdeo administration is not too fond of this pesky little freedom that is designed to maintain a vigilant eye on the government.

Moreover, it would seem that the Bush administration in America would share their sentiment as well. Last week The New York Times reported on how Bush has now been snooping into the banking records of his citizens.

We first find out he is invading our privacy through the phone lines earlier this year, and now it is our bank accounts. I am beginning to feel like I should just set up an extra bed for Bush in my bedroom because I don't think he'll stop until he rips away every ounce of privacy he has been generous enough to leave untouched to this point.

After yet another arrogant invasion of our privacy, he actually had the nerve to shake his finger at the New York Times for blowing the whistle on his covert operation. I plan to send that newspaper a thank you note for doing their job so effectively.

It is about time the American media crawled out of hiding and began doing its job again. The Editor of the LA Times (who also printed this story), Dean Baquet, aptly defended his actions by stating, "History has taught us that the government is not always being honest when it cites secrecy as a reason not to publish."

In an even more powerful response, the Editor of the New York Times, Bill Keller, stated, "It's an unusual and powerful thing, this freedom that our founders gave to the press. Who are the editors of The New York Times (or the Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post and other publications that also ran the banking story) to disregard the wishes of the President and his appointees? And yet the people who invented this country saw an aggressive, independent press as a protective measure against the abuse of power in a democracy, and an essential ingredient for self-government. They rejected the idea that it is wise, or patriotic, to always take the President at his word, or to surrender to the government important decisions about what to publish."

In fact, journalism is the only vocation in America that is instituted by its Constitution. It would be naïve of us to expect any government to watch itself. Even the U.S. Supreme Court had to give the Bush administration a good slap on the wrist for its conduct regarding illegal tribunals of Guatanamo prisoners.

There has to be an existing and viable entity to watch the government at all times. After all, the government works for the people – not the other way around. Which brings us back to the fact that Guyana's media, the ones who are entrusted to watch the government, is being shut out of governmental functions.

I do understand there are occasions when the government must be able to strategise without the presence of the media, but this should not include events like an opening ceremony for a retreat for the Guyana Defence Force or a police officer's conference.

I think it is more likely that the exchanges at these events would be embarrassing to the administration and it does not care to have those conversations shared with the citizens. The current government should be embarrassed of its inability to enforce the laws of the land.

Some frank and candid conversation between the executive branch and the law enforcement branches is exactly what needs to happen in Guyana – and the people have the right to know what is being said regarding their safety.

Personally, I would rather know everything I can about how a government is running a nation than to be kept in the dark because some politicians think they need to protect me from myself. And you can bet your bottom dollar that I want to know if anyone, including the government, is snooping around my bank accounts or tapping my phone.

I have nothing whatsoever to hide from my government, but my private records and conversations are none of their damn business. However, everything they do as a representative for me is my business.

At the end of the day, I am a smart girl and can assimilate the information I have received from the media regarding my government make my own decision about the job it is doing. It should not be up to them to decide what information I receive regarding their conduct; after all, we are the ones paying them to work for us.

Email: stellasays[at]