AZP News

 Commentary: T&T in Mourning

By Alicia Chamely

Commentary: T&T in Mourning

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‘If I want to drink a bottle of rum in a short skirt and six-inch heels, while doing the dutty wine in the bed of van, I should be able to do so without fear of being raped.’

By Alicia Chamely

SOMETIMES there is simply nothing to say.

Not because the words and thoughts are not there, but because what needs to be said has been said again and again.

Every single word, continually falling upon deaf ears and a cycle doomed to repeat itself unless action is taken.

We are stuck in a never ending cycle of violence, spurred by an inadequately trained and equipped police service and a legal system that seems more concerned about the constitutional rights of criminals than the victims of crime.

Last week, I sat down to write on what was the start of the unfolding tragedy of Andrea Bharatt’s kidnapping and murder, but as I began I realised I was writing an article I had written before.

I wrote an article where I referred to women in Trinidad and Tobago as the new “endangered species,” how our legal system was failing women, and the way women are viewed and discussed in society.

I wrote an article on the need for a comprehensive sexual education curriculum that also focuses on the need to empower both young males and females, while fostering a mutual respect for one another.

I wrote an article about the implementation of social support systems and educational programmes in depressed areas as tools to reduce crime, and abuse.

I am not alone.

Every activist, social media user, every rational-minded person in one way or another has verbalised what needs to be done to protect women in our country and what social changes needed to be made to help us break free from the atmosphere of violence that we find ourselves so deeply immersed in.

Andrea Bharatt’s family by her casket during her funeral on Friday

Where are our leaders? Oh, that’s right, they are arguing and blaming and finger pointing.

They are avoiding doing what needs to be done because it may not make them popular with some people, won’t provide kickbacks, have the need for fancy ribbon cutting ceremonies, and frankly might be too hard.

Where is our Law Association? Oh, here they are arguing that making rape a non-bailable offence would be against the accused’s constitutional right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

I guess the rights of the alleged perpetrator of Andrea’s murder, who had numerous charges of rape and assault under his belt, were more important than her right to live.

Hold on! Where is Paula-Mae Weekes, our first female President, our strong independent woman, our guardian of all girls’ dreams? (crickets churping)

Andrea Bharatt

People have questioned as to why the national outcry for Andrea seems louder than it was for Ashanti Riley and the answer is simple.

It is louder because we are experiencing collective trauma, this is not just for Andrea, but it is for Ashanti and all the other women who have been murdered, raped or simply disappeared into thin air.

It is louder because we are angrier, because we are fed up, because we have realised that nothing more than lip service and “thoughts and prayers” are coming from our leaders. It is louder because action needs to be taken before another life is.

We are all mourning and we are scared, because the reality is the next victim could be our mother, our sister, our daughter, ourselves.

Unfortunately, despite the nationwide vigils and private businesses taking a stand and closing their doors in protest of violence against women, the ugly head of misogyny and sexism has still managed to rare its big head. Proving yet again how deeply it is ingrained into our culture.

The Express Newspaper thought it wise to publish some tips to avoid becoming a target of rape and assault that included dress modestly,and don’t wear high heels in case you need to run.

I mean, for real? We back to this old crap.

If I want to drink a bottle of rum in a short skirt and six-inch heels, while doing the dutty wine in the bed of van, I should be able to do so without fear of being raped.

We have also seen men get rather triggered on social media about posts calling for men to change their attitude about women and call out their friends who display “rapey” behaviors.

If a social media post is distressing to your manhood, maybe you aren’t as secure and noble as you would like to believe.

Andrea’s death and the circumstances surrounding it have left me both enraged and frankly depressed. I however take comfort in knowing I am not alone.

As I said before we are experiencing trauma and I must commend how we the citizens of T&T have responded.

Nightly there are vigils for Andrea and every woman who lost her life to violence. About 1,000 businesses took a stand against violence against women and closed their doors in solidarity on Friday.

The conversation is happening and it is louder than ever.

My only hope is that this time it is heard and action is taken, before we lose another woman, another daughter, another sister, another mother.

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