Darrell Seignoret

GIFT FOR ANDREA’s DAD: Artist Darrell Seignoret, right, presents a painting of Andrea Bharatt to her father Randolph last week.

HE has suffered the horrific loss of his only daughter to violence but Randolph Bharatt remains optimistic on this International Women’s Day.

Prior to him participating in a vigil in Port of Spain organised by the Candlelight Movement last Friday where he signed a petition in support of legislation for women’s safety, Bharatt was asked his thoughts on the strides women have made: “I think they have started. Something good might happen.”

Reminiscing on life with his daughter Andrea who was only 23 when she was abducted and murdered, Bharatt said in an interview with the Express: “The child and I would go for drives in Toco. Visit Toco lighthouse. After her funeral, my brother Raymond and I took a drive to Matura. Toco Beach is my favourite beach. I hope to own a beach house up there someday.”

He does however harbour some bitterness for the perpetrators of crime, saying: “Some men are not men. Some men are beasts in human form in this country. If they had implemented the death penalty we would not have been in the position we are in.”

Andrea’s death has led to an outpouring of grief among citizens, civil groups, women’s groups and taxi drivers’ associations, with many saying that it should never happen again.

“Somebody is getting paid. It is all about the money. Anyway I don’t want to say much. It’s men destroying your life. They have a family like yours. But nobody could get close to them to destroy their family. Parents have to come together. But they are bent on enjoying the luxury of what they are getting. If something happens to someone, then all the family will jump out like bachacs and say ‘he was a good boy’,” Bharatt added.

Comforting Candice Riley

Pastor at the Mt D’or Seventh Day Adventist Church, Steve Riley had to struggle to regain his composure after he officiated at the funeral of his cousin Ashanti Riley, 18, who was found dead in a river on December 4, 2020. Riley has been a source of comfort to Ashanti’s grief-stricken mother Candice Riley.

In a telephone interview last week, Riley said: “It would be unfair for women to say they have not made strides in the educational, corporate, political arena and ecclesiastical areas. Under the late PM Patrick Manning he had a minister of ecclesiastical affairs, the late Donna Carter. You must applaud the fact women are showing tenacity.

“In the sporting arena, Lynette ‘Granny’ Lucess was a colossus. When marathoner Curtis Cox said ‘Granny’ beat him, he was not being trite. It is an indication of the strength of women. The undermining of women served as a catalyst for them to succeed.”

Appealing to the powers that be to “move every muscle to protect women and girls,” Riley said: “ Violence seems to be so contagious. We don’t want to send messages that it’s alright to beat, rape, molest, harm and disrespect women. If we go that way, we would have regressed as a society.”

Noting that Candice Riley was “extremely distraught” while travelling in a taxi recently, Riley said: “Who can blame Candice Riley, the mother of Ashanti Riley for being exceedingly fearful? The taxi driver was going somewhere and she got scared for a minute. It’s not to say she was being kidnapped. It’s just fear, flashback and fear of the unknown. The lack of respect of women is all around. Women are scared. In talking to my wife, she is afraid of walking and being alone.”

Riley said he wanted Candice and all his female relatives to know he would always be a shoulder to lean on.

“I am not giving up on my cousin Candice Riley. She and her other daughter came to service on Old Year’s Night (last year). I have been praying with her and counselling her. I need to get her out of a dark space. I know she is in her personal prison. But Almighty God is the great physician,” Pastor Riley added.

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