Saturday, October 29, 2011

Renewing sisterhood in Guyana

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 22 October 2011)   
I have had both men and women tell me that in Guyana, some women are as cruel to women as some men are. I cannot rebut this claim as I have seen or read about women who have been very abusive to others of their own gender whether by a verbal beat down, proudly stealing the husband of another woman (even if he has children with her) or even physically harming a woman.

The harsh words I have heard from women about other women have baptised me in a deep grief. It seems some females would rather tear down other women than ever lift a hand to help. Even more, there are some women who critique others from head to toe without one kind word. She is fat or she is skinny or she is ugly or her hair looks stupid. I could go on and on.

To make matters worse, some women are often unwilling to help each other – even to the point that a neighbour could be beaten to death by her husband while the women of the area hear it and yet do nothing. Some even blame the woman for the beatings she receives or for a cheating husband.

I am not sure what caused this division between the women of Guyana. What drove this wedge between Guyana’s sisters? The hostility that some women display toward other women is highly disturbing. I do not know why this is so, but I do know it has got to end if the quality of life for women in Guyana is ever going to improve.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Presidential backball

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 15 October 2011)    

These two words, presidential backball, seem contradictory – as if the two words should never be uttered in the same breath. Indeed, there ought to be respect when the word “president” comes across our lips. Backball, on the other hand, is a lewd word, something we hope our children do not mutter until they are adults.

Yet we are begrudgingly forced to join these two paradoxical words as we consider the conduct of President Bharrat Jagdeo and the PPP Presidential Candidate, Donald Ramotar, who both received backballs at their party’s recent rallies. I honestly cannot even believe that I am forced to talk about such coarse behaviour, but talk about it I must and so I shall.

The Urban Dictionary defines backball as a “Caribbean term for sensually gyrating in a forward bent over position, most often in front of a male while partying, sometimes also touching the ground with hands. Referred to as receiving by males and giving by females.”

This type of conduct is something that should be done in private, or at the very least in a dark room at a club full of people who are doing the same thing. It does not belong on the platform of a political rally in front of all and sundry – including children and impressionable young people.

However, my focus for this column is to draw a clear and concise line on how the crucial issue of domestic violence relates to the president of a country receiving a public backball. Common sense tells us that this type of public behaviour is inappropriate for any leader, much less the president of a country, but allow me to connect the dots for those who still do not seem to get it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Ask yourself, can you as a woman, do better than the men are doing right now?

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 08 October 2011)    

In 2003, a national survey of 446 women from the ten administrative regions in Guyana was conducted by Roxanne Myers with the assistance of UG students, on the political participation of women in Guyana. Of the 446 women surveyed, a whopping 68 per cent “felt certain they would endorse a woman candidate.”  Well, ladies, here is your chance to do just that.

Valerie Garrido-Lowe, the new presidential candidate and party leader for The United Force (TUF), has already faced an attempted coup d‘état by the former party leader, Manzoor Nadir, who this past week was on his Facebook page promoting the PPP rally this weekend.

Garrido-Lowe felt it was essential for TUF to go into the elections without any of its previous ties to the PPP and even though Nadir had the power and prowess of the PPP machine behind him in his attempt to take back a position that was no longer his, Garrido-Lowe did not shy away from this David/Goliath situation. This is one tough lady!

Saturday, October 08, 2011

Must we lock away the men for women to be safe?

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 01 October 2011)    

Today is the first day of October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness month. There is some important information I want to share with you as well as part of a story written by an Indian woman in 1905.

Domestic violence makes absolutely no sense in society – it has no purpose other than to control the victim and maintain subjection to the abuser. This type of hostility and barbarianism has no place in a modern world and must be exposed for the lowly ideology that it is.

According to a September 23 article entitled, “India, China Responsible for Many ‘Missing’ Women,” on the Wall Street Journal Blog, “In its annual World Development Report, which this year focuses on gender issues, the World Bank estimates that two-fifths of the world’s 3.9 million “missing women,” or over 1.4 million, went “missing” at birth. And this was in 2008 alone, the latest year for which figures are available. The rest are excess female deaths at later stages in life.”

The US Council on Foreign Relations blog had and posted this on September 20, “The most alarming statistics are with respect to the roughly 4 million excess deaths of women and girls, relative to males, in low and middle income countries.  Forty per cent of these ‘missing girls’ are never born: the spread of inexpensive sonogram technology allows parents to abort unwanted female fetuses. Another 17 per cent die in early childhood. Some 35 per cent die during their reproductive years. Maternal mortality, which takes approximately 1,000 female lives a day, is still the top killer of women in many countries.”

And according to, “Among women aged between 15 and 44, acts of violence cause more death and disability than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents and war combined.”

Saturday, October 01, 2011

An abuser is not a ‘bad boy’ that daring females should find intriguing

(Originally published in Guyana’s Stabroek News on 24 September 2011)  

According to the Toronto Sun, “One of Canada’s ‘Most Wanted’ criminals, who was convicted twice of beating women, has been deemed a threat to public security.” Since this most wanted criminal is a Guyanese, Canada has sent him back here.

The report said, “Shameer Ally Allie, 36, of Guyana, was picked up Thursday [September 15] by the RCMP [Royal Canadian Mounted Police]. He had been on the run since January to avoid deportation stemming from a lengthy criminal record that includes convictions for assault causing bodily harm, threatening death, assault with a weapon and twice failing to report to authorities.”

Allie arrived in Guyana this past week and now his conduct is the business of local law enforcement. The Canadians called him “a violent offender who has shown no sign of remorse or rehabilitation.” What did he do that was so bad?

The Toronto Sun report said, “…[He] was convicted in 2003 for attacking a common-law wife with a baseball bat…Allie also attacked another woman, whom he was seeing, with a ‘large kitchen knife’ after he accused her of dressing provocatively, Stephanie Echlin, a counsel for the immigration department said.

“The woman was threatened with death several times and escaped after the building’s landlord heard a struggle and ran to her aid. ‘Both of those assaulted were women with whom he had a close relationship,’ Echlin said. ‘He (Allie) is a violent offender who has shown no sign of remorse or rehabilitation.’”