Friday, April 29, 2011

Verbal and mental abuse in the workplace

(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 29 April 2011)

A person usually spends around 40 hours per week in the workplace. Some spend less, some spend more. Some spend much more than the typical 40 hours. At times, it can seem like one spends more time at work than at home. For this reason, it is vital for the work environment to be safe – both physically and mentally.

It has been brought to my attention that there are too many employers who are abusive to their employees. Abuse comes in many forms and the relationship between employer and employee can most certainly foster an unhealthy situation that undermines a productive work environment because of abuse.

Here is a fictional story from

“In a down economy where jobs were scarce, Toby was recently hired by a large IT firm. He was grateful for the opportunity to work.

Even though he had plenty of experience and confidence in himself, there were a lot of others vying for the same position. It wasn’t long before the boss, started talking down to him and treating him as if he didn’t know anything.

Toby wasn’t accustomed to being talked to in that manner, especially in front of his co-workers. He decided to watch and learn to see if this was a common practice for his boss to treat everyone like that or was he singled out. He put up with this workplace verbal abuse, and shook it off every day after work. After all, the job paid well and it was supporting himself and his family.”

Does this sound familiar? Or perhaps you have a boss that yells at the top of his/her lungs at you and the rest of your co-workers?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Attacking an elder is a crime against us all

 (Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 27 April 2011)

Those who prey on the weak are the personification of cowardice. To harm a child or an elderly person is to go against all virtue and honour that we as humans have established as the moral foundation for our species. Anyone who seeks out these weaker ones for no other reason than to inflict harm demonstrates the epitome of a depraved mind.

We are taught to have the utmost respect for our elders. In society, they are the ones with the wisdom. They are the ones with years of experience to share. They are living history. It is an honour to spend a day in the presence of an elderly person and to gain even an ounce of what she or he has to offer the world.

Yet the elderly in Guyana are now being targeted for robbery. To make this vile matter even more disgraceful, it is elderly women who are being attacked. An April 22 article in Kaieteur News entitled, “Murders of elderly ‘home alone’ women worry cops,” said, “Homicide ranks here are worried at what appears to be a pattern of brutal murders of elderly women who live alone. Of the nine women slain so far for the year, three of them were between the ages of 68 and 74.”

The article continued, “In each case the motive appeared to be robbery, but police said that two of the victims were sexually assaulted. Two were strangled and the throat of the third was slashed.”
I cannot even begin to imagine the type of person who would rob, sexually assault and violently murder a grandmother.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The perfect anthem for this election season

(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 22 April 2011)

I heard a song this week that resonated with my core beliefs in a deep and meaningful way.
The song is entitled, “One Tribe” and it is sung by The Black Eyed Peas. From the first time I heard this song, I thought it would be a perfect anthem for this election year in Guyana.

The primary sentiment behind this song is about rejecting racial divisions and racial politics to work together toward a common goal for the good of all.

“One Tribe, one time, one planet, one race
It’s all one blood, don’t care about your face
The color of your eye or the tone of your skin
Don’t care where ya are
Don’t care where ya been
Cause where we gonna go
Is where we wanna be

The place where the little language is unity
And the continent is called Pangaea
And the main ideas are connected like a spear
No propaganda, They tried to upper hand us
Cause man I’m loving this peace
Man, man, I’m loving this peace
Man, man, I’m loving this peace”

I especially like the parts of the song that insist on rejecting leadership that promotes fear of others for selfish political agendas. The people of Guyana have to be smart enough to recognise the fear tactics of their leaders and adamantly reject those divisive schemes.

Friday, April 22, 2011

The future of this newspaper is at stake

(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 22 April 2011)  

I spoke with the publisher of Kaieteur News (KN), Glenn Lall, several weeks ago about the fact that I believed there were forces that wanted to shut this newspaper down. After I spoke to him about this, I sent him an email containing several links to printed material that contained malicious statements about the newspaper.

Since then, there has been an escalation in this obvious campaign to discredit this newspaper all around the nation. There was even a flyer distributed in Berbice saying this newspaper was “anti-Guyana” and creating division in the nation.

This campaign against KN, Glenn Lall and Freddie Kissoon has been incessant for weeks now without letting up and includes verbal assaults. I believe the forces behind this assault on KN made a deliberate decision to do whatever it takes to bring this newspaper down once and for all.

However, the more they would tell people not to read this newspaper, the more people would read it to find out why they should not read it. Their plan was backfiring and they needed a more effective strategy to get rid of KN. It is my opinion that when these malicious forces realised their plan was not working, they then came up with an idea to divide and conquer – after all, this is one of the most effective ways to defeat an enemy.

It can be quite clear to anyone who reads this newspaper that division has been wrought in this otherwise harmonious newspaper.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Considering Cinderella

(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 20 April 2011)

I love a good fairy tale. Who doesn’t? Especially when that tale entails a “rags to riches” story. I grew up in an abusive home where my mother physically, emotionally and verbally abused me for the entire time I lived in her house, so I often wished for a prince to come and save me from the tormented life I lived.

For a long time, I thought that prince would be my father whom I had never met. I would sit and daydream about the day he would come back and get me (on a white horse in a knight’s suit), to take me away from the abuse. Little did I know at such a young age that living with my alcoholic father would have been just as bad as living with my abusive mother.

Eventually, my prince did come in the form of a young Guyanese man who would one day be my husband. It is so nice when fairy tales end with a “happily ever after.” The truth, however, is that all those years of abuse did a number on my mind and my prince would have to help me through many years of mistrust and abandonment issues. Not so happy, eh?

I wish there had been some fairy tales that highlighted strong young women who fought for their rights instead of meek ones who accepted their plight until a man came along and saved them. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the fact that my prince loved me enough to help me through the hell I went through while growing up, but I so wish I had been taught to be strong enough to stand up for myself.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

No Women, No Vote

(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 17 April 2011)

With the selection of Donald Ramotar as the PPP presidential candidate, the election season is now in full swing. As such, I feel it necessary to remind my readers that I never publicly endorse any particular candidate or political party. I take this strong stance because I feel it is difficult to view a columnist’s words as objective if that writer has already stated that she/he is not objective.

I have always felt the same about newspapers, as well. During the elections in the US, I take any political news with a grain of salt if it comes from a newspaper that endorses one particular candidate or political party. One cannot expect to receive unbiased reports from a columnist or newspaper that openly states that it is biased.

However, as usual, I will continue to give my opinion on events, strategies and the overall flow of the campaign season, which is the purpose of this column today. Anyone who reads this column regularly will know that I must speak about the remarks made by PNCR Presidential Candidate, David Granger, concerning the role of women in the upcoming election.

I have to admit that when Granger said he wanted a female prime ministerial candidate when he was first elected (as opposed to selected) by the PNCR as the party’s presidential candidate, I was sceptical that this voiced preference would stand the test of time in Guyana’s political atmosphere.
Yet it seems Granger is sticking to his guns and I am impressed that given the number of would-be male prime ministerial aspirants that he must be fielding, he seems to be adamant on having a female represented in this role. This action in itself is enough to speak volumes about what Guyana’s women could expect from a Granger administration.

However, last weekend Granger went one step further in his bid to secure the female votes in Guyana. In an April 11 Kaieteur News article, entitled, “Granger believes women will determine outcome of election,” the PNCR candidate reportedly said that women must be on equal footing as men.
The article continued, “He said that women make up more than 50 per cent of the population and are the mothers of the nation’s children. He stressed that women hold the nation’s future in their hands. Women should be enabled to play their full and equal role in the development of their families, communities and the nation as a whole.”

I have been waiting for years to see a political candidate enact this level of female inclusion in the political process. I always envisioned that it would be a female politician, but the three women who were/are in the forefront of this election season have not risen to my expectations on this matter.
Gail Teixeira, Faith Harding and Sheila Holder are all strong women with the capacity to call on women to take their rightful place in the political process, yet none have done so to even a small degree in light of what David Granger is doing.

Granger is campaigning on a very smart platform. He knows very well that Guyana’s women are coming out of the shadows and realising their worth to the nation. He can appreciate that they have found their voice – and he is listening to those feminine voices.

The inclusion of women in the political process is something that should have happened long before now. I have my own speculations as to why the PPP has not attempted to garner the female vote, and perhaps one day I will write on those speculations.

However, I will say that the obvious exclusion of females from the PPP campaign is just as telling as the deliberate inclusion of females in the PNCR campaign. Likewise, I do not see the AFC playing to the female half of Guyana’s population either. It is almost as if the PPP and AFC do not recognise the women as viable voters. This is a severe mistake.

When I vote as a woman, I always vote based on the issues that are important to me, but that is after I have sorted through the candidates and eliminated any who do not cater for the female vote. I would never, I repeat, never vote for a candidate who does not include women and women’s issues in her or his campaign.

For a woman to vote for a political party or a candidate who does not address women and women’s issues is like shooting yourself in the foot. The situation for women in Guyana is dire – and it will continue to be so until there is a leader in the country who respects women and refuses to allow the female constituents to be treated as anything less than equals.

The purpose of this column is not to encourage a vote for David Granger, though he has certainly won my respect in regard to his campaign approach toward women. Instead, it is my hope that other political parties will follow Granger’s exceptional lead to comprehend the importance of including women in their campaigns as well.

I will be watching carefully, as will the women in Guyana, to see if the other political parties see fit to cater to the female vote. It is my opinion that if a political party does not include women in its election campaign, that party does not deserve the vote from the women. No women, no vote.