Churchill Roosevelt Highway, Trincity
LET me be clear. This country is no safe haven for women.
The senseless, brutal killings and violence of our womenfolk continue unabated. The Protect Our Women Movement was birthed by heinous murders such as that of Ashanti Riley and Andrea Bharatt.
Sadly, it was suppressed by the recently concluded six-month-long State of Emergency backed by a 10 pm to 5 pm everyday curfew. That combined with indifferent politicians has seen few positive movements towards a safer country for our women.
The young, beautiful soul, Kezia Jeneka Guerra, was one of this country’s latest female victims of crime. She is suspected of being stalked and killed by a man she previously knew, who committed suicide by ingesting a poisonous substance after being questioned and released by the police subsequent to her being reported missing. Her badly decomposed body was discovered on the Divali holiday (November 4), in a shallow grave near a river off Santa Barbara Road in Maracas, St Joseph.
Because so many people seem completely clueless about how unsafe we women feel going about our business in this country, let me give you a little peek into our worlds. Today, I’ll focus on what we women go through daily, as it relates to our vehicles and what it means for our safety.
Now if we don’t have our own rides, we know that can spell absolute disaster – just look up Ashanti Riley’s death and the part a false “PH” car played in it. But having a car is by no means a full proof means to stay safe. As a woman, staying safe while having a car means this:
Get someone to accompany you to your car
A single woman seen driving alone in a car has a magnetic attraction for criminal elements. (Kudos here to the Ministry of Works and Transport for making our car tints so transparent with the amended tint laws that come into effect in January 2022! It’s so much easier for rapists and murderers to see us alone in our cars.) Whether we’re leaving work for the day, driving to get some outside food, going shopping, whatever, company is crucial to stay safe. We need someone just to walk us to our cars if they can’t accompany us along the trip. If no one is available to accompany us to our cars, we try to walk with something that can be used to deter criminals should they choose to target us for attack: whistles, sharp objects in our hands e.g., pencils, keys between our knuckles, mail openers.
Keep windows up
Even fellas who think themselves respectful of women can’t help themselves when they see a pretty face alone in a car. If the weather is nice, we must admire it from our air-conditioned, sealed tin cans on wheels. Because if we are stuck in traffic, male hecklers will have a field day with us if we don’t keep the windows up. We risk the soothing, the “famalayyy,” unsolicited descriptions about our body parts or worse, the obscenities about our sex and hurled abuses when we refuse to pay attention to them.
Make sure the road is clear before entering your home
Criminals use the opportunity to kidnap or attack drivers when their vehicles are stopped, waiting for the gate to open to enter their homes. Women have to be ever so alert to their surroundings before trying to enter their driveways.
Apart from the usual routine observations to determine if I am being followed by a car, I usually start constantly watching my rear-view mirror to see if anyone is driving behind me on the last leg of my journey home. If I see the same car driving behind me after a few blocks, I pull aside and stop my car. Only if they drive past me normally, do I continue my journey.
If I were to observe any suspicious behaviour, like the car hesitating after I stop, I would call my family to alert them and call the police while driving to the nearest police post. When I get home, I do not unlock my doors or exit my vehicle until the gate has completely closed shut and I see no one walking or standing outside my gate.
Let me ask this: how many men do these things, day in, day out? … Food for thought? Be safe Trinidad and Tobago!
Copyright © 2021 Neela Ramsundar, LL.B (HONS), L.E.C is a civil litigation attorney and certified mediator.
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