Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Thank you, President Jagdeo, for caring about the women of Guyana

(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 23 February 2011)

I heard a host of angels sing as I read the status update on Monday on NCN Guyana’s Facebook page. It said, “President Bharrat Jagdeo is calling on citizens to break the silence to injustice. The Head of State was referring to the issue of domestic violence where persons fail to render assistance to victims.”

This is one of the most beautiful stories of redemption I have ever witnessed. It is nothing short of miraculous! The president is calling on citizens to break the silence concerning domestic violence. Tears are brimming in my eyes at just the sound of that statement. The chorus of angels are still singing.

I even took a screen shot of the status update so I can look at it on days when fighting domestic violence seems overwhelming and remind myself of this beautiful day.

Strangely enough, I did not see this joyous news reported in any of the newspapers on Tuesday and the status update did not say where President Jagdeo made this statement. However, I am not deterred in believing this monumental news. Perhaps it was just that the flooding situation took precedence over the news of the president calling on citizens to break the silence (I just love to say that phrase: the president is calling on citizens to break the silence).

If what was posted on NCN – Guyana’s Facebook page is true – and every ounce of my being is hoping that it is – then how could it have escaped the attention of the local newspapers? After all, it was just two short years ago when the president himself wanted everyone to be silent concerning the treatment of Former First Lady Varshnie Singh.

Ms. Singh was put out of her own home (the State House) with nothing more than the clothes on her back after years of being subjected to various forms of domestic violence by the president. Therefore, my exuberance is justified because the same man who inflicted such harm on a woman has now become a champion for victims of domestic violence.

This is huge! It truly is monumental. It is like hearing Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s womanising prime minister, tell the world that it is wrong to use and objectify women. The implications of this news could mean the so much to the women of Guyana. They will now have a president who will protect them from their abusers instead of one who inflicts abuse himself or sits in silence while they are battered.

Since I am assuming the president will also be breaking his silence, women can now also expect the president to step up and speak out when any of his ministers or leaders in his party beat their wives. I can still hear those angles singing. My heart is elated. My feet cannot find solid ground. The president of Guyana cares about the women of his nation. Let the world rejoice!

I wonder what brought about this change of heart in the president? Perhaps he saw the firsthand evidence of domestic violence from someone for whom he cares (well, other than his wife). I have seen the firsthand evidence and it is heart wrenching. I could understand this conversion if president’s heart was touched by the tortured experiences of a victim (see Freddie, I told you he had a heart).

I am so giddy about this news, though I still just cannot understand why the nation’s newspapers did not pick up this colossal story. Oh, no! What if that status on NCN – Guyana’s Facebook page was in error or a joke? What if someone hacked into that page and posted that status just to taunt women’s advocates like me?

No, I won’t believe it was a farce. I will believe the president really has made this drastic turnaround and I will now look to the president as an example of a man who will from now on protect women from the evils of domestic violence and wipe this scourge from the land.

I wonder if this change of heart also means an apology will be issued to his ex-wife for the way he treated her during their marriage? Since admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery, I am sure the president knows that making amends would go a long way in his healing process.

Oh, I cannot wait to write on that story! I can see the headlines now, “President Jagdeo issues apology to Former First Lady for years of domestic violence.” What a truly heart warming story it will be! It would prove to all those naysayers that the president is a changed man who wants to leave a legacy of hope and goodness as he wraps up his time in office.

Perhaps I can get an exclusive interview with the president about his conversion from an abuser to a protector. It would be an inspiration to all those men in Guyana who abuse their wives to know they, too, can stop the abuse and become a man of integrity.

(If the president is reading this, please just email me the time and date of the interview because I don’t want Freddie to steal my exclusive.)

I feel as if the world has been righted after being askew for such a long and tiresome time. The sky is bluer, the air is fresher and the song of the birds is more light-hearted. I have fought a good fight. I have waged a war against domestic violence and this week a decisive victory has been won.

From the bottom of my heart, thank you, President Jagdeo. Thank you for caring about the women of Guyana.

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