Friday, May 27, 2011

She did everything for him

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

This week has been yet another bloody one for the women of Guyana – and it is not even over yet. The violence and murders continue and the brutality escalates. One woman was slashed with a knife (luckily, she survived), another had her head bashed in and yet another was chopped to death with a cutlass – all in a matter of days.

There are witnesses to prove that two of the three attacks were carried out by the husbands. However, as yet there is no proof that Sharanie Doobay’s husband had anything to do with her brutal murder. As such, we will assume he is innocent until proven guilty.

Yet as I was reading the May 25 Kaieteur News report on the murder entitled, “Doctor’s wife found dead in pool of blood,” there was something that struck me. Here is what the article said, “Relatives also dispelled any suggestions that the woman and her husband had any problems…‘She was his right hand; she spent all of her days at home while he spent most of his time at work…she did everything for him and he adored her.’ This newspaper was told that the couple had been married for more than 30 years.”

Although the “relatives” did not see any problems, I see a big problem. In fact, I have a problem with that entire statement. The wife stayed at home all the time, the husband was at work all the time and she did everything for him – for more than 30 years.

While traditional thought might insist this was a great marriage, for me and many other women, this would be hell on earth. I did not know Mrs. Doobay, so I cannot say whether she stayed home by choice or because she did not have a choice in the matter – as is the case in too many relationships.

Moreover, think about this part of the statement made by the relatives, “she did everything for him and he adored her.” So what happened if she failed to do everything for him? Would he not adore her? What if she did not cook the meal to his liking? Or what if the house was not clean when he came home? I truly loathe the lowly state to which women are relegated by society.

Perhaps the Doobays had a happy marriage, I cannot say since I did not know them. I do know that staying home and taking care of a man for 30 years is not my idea of being happy. Being consigned to little more than slave status is not what I would choose for my life goal.

I wonder if Mrs. Doobay chose this life for herself. I wonder if she even had a choice or if social expectations and spousal expectations chose this life for her. Additionally, if she did in fact spend all of her time at home and her husband spent all of his time at work, it sounds like she had a very lonely life.

However, let’s say the Doobays were happy. Let’s say Mrs. Doobay was fine with doing “everything for him” and being at home by herself all the time, why on earth would someone want to brutally murder a quiet, submissive housewife? There were no signs of robbery and the house was so secure that even the husband had a difficult time getting into it when she did not answer the door. Those on the scene after the discovery of the body said “it must have been someone close to her who killed her since she was not a person who would open her door to strangers.” Moreover, they said she had no problems with anyone.

Another strange piece of the puzzle is the fact that although all of their neighbours had security guards, the Doobays did not. I’d be interested in knowing if this is a new development or if they have not had security guards all along. Yes, there are too many curious particulars in this case.

As if a brutal murder is not already horrible enough, we all know that it is highly unlikely that Mrs. Doobay’s soul will ever see justice. She will become yet one more statistic in Guyana’s ever growing list of murdered women.

Without justice, the disregard and disrespect demonstrated to Guyana’s women in life is carried on in their deaths. The violence against women situation is not getting better. The fix to this problem has yet to be discovered and the longer it takes to find a way to stop these murders, the more women will die.

This weekend is the much touted Feminition Expo hosted by the Ministry of Human Services for women. The attacks and deaths of these women this week seems to be a clear indication of how the men of Guyana feel about empowering the women.

Be sure of this, for every attack and death we see in the newspapers, there are many more women being brutalized and tormented, about whom we do not hear. I am so tired of hearing calls for action. I am ready to see the action.

I am ready to see abusers locked up to protect the women – even if the women beg for the release of their abuser. I am ready for the police to take an abused woman’s cries for help seriously and protect her from becoming the next murder victim. I am ready to see an end to the acceptance of the bribes and payoffs that undermine justice and give abusers the license to abuse again. I am ready to see women care more about their safety and the safety of their children than they care about their abuser and the fact that neighbours will talk if they leave an abusive relationship.

I am ready to see neighbours stand up and help women who are being verbally, emotionally and physically abused. Guyana’s female population has plunged in the last decade and the next decade is looking very grim. Yet my hope is failing me still.

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