Saturday Express Editorial

AS a singular contributing factor to the nine murders reported in Trinidad and Tobago in the first ten days of 2020, three of these incidents were listed as marking the violent and tragic end of domestic relationships.

The latest was Thursday’s murder in Avocat of 28-year-old Gabriella Dubarry, who had ended a relationship. And as she prepared to welcome her pupils back to school on Monday in Port of Spain, principal of a privately-run pre-school, 48-year-old Jezelle Philip-Fournillier, was set upon and stabbed to death by a man with whom she had a relationship, who then walked into a police station and gave himself up.

Earlier that morning, the decomposing bodies of a woman, her brother and their uncle were discovered in a house in Arima, all strangled.

The woman, Polly Ann Chuniesingh, 31, was apparently murdered by a man with whom she once shared a relationship.

Between 2005 and 2015, the Trinidad and Tobago Coalition Against Domestic Violence has reported that 300 women were murdered in this country. In 2017, 43 of the 52 women killed were victims of domestic violence. Also, up to 2015, the Coalition had listed 7,000 cases of domestic violence that were reported to the authorities.

These statistics tell only part of the harrowing presence of domestic violence in our midst, a social ill which continues to warrant much more action and attention than has been apparent.

Figures from the tracking of this monster in the United States, as an example, expose its psychological effects on children who witness such incidents, the huge number of hours women as victims must be absent from work, as well as the numbers of them who have lost their jobs, “due to reasons stemming from abuse.”

It has been established that domestic violence co-relates significantly with higher rates of depression and suicidal behaviour among victims, while less than 50 per cent of them receive the medical attention that often becomes necessary.

Speaking on the prevalence of the issue in T&T, gender relations expert Prof Rhoda Reddock said in 2017, “we feel our State agencies need to begin to think deeply about the factors contributing to this crisis and to go beyond what has been done before.” She called then for “a comprehensive strategy” to address issues of prevention and to shape behaviour among men. Prof Reddock, a member of the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said this element of the “social order” ought to be given more and greater focus, as the society continues to expand the budget for national security.

It is noteworthy that all five of the prominent men interviewed by the Express on the subject, and whose views were carried in yesterday’s edition, spoke to what they saw clearly as the need for the males in our society to go out and get help. Former head of the Public Service, retired diplomat Reginald Dumas, called for “public sessions” in which the issue should be “confronted squarely.” Current head of the Inter-Religious Organisation, Dean Knolly Clarke, opined that the matter constituted “a problem for the whole nation,” and declared that “all the churches and all the NGOs have a role to play.”

Taking all these perspectives into serious consideration, we must use the traumatic incidents so early in the year to make an urgent call to action in recommitting ourselves to finding real, tangible, effective methods of addressing and beating back this debilitating social crisis on our hands.


I CRY SHAME on the United National Congress (UNC) for causing the defeat of the Anti-Gang Bill in the House of Representatives. The UNC leadership will pay a heavy political price with the non-aligned voters for withholding their support for the UNC.

IT always escapes my logic, both from a practical sense and a political sense as to why the Opposition chooses to adopt as its strategy, the non-support of anti-crime bills.

I would think it’s just good politics to be hard on crime.

The history of the trade union movement in Trinidad and Tobago would be totally incomplete and unfinished if the life and times of Tubal Uriah “Buzz” Butler are not the DNA of such a history. Butler was accredited as being the “Chief Servant of the Lord”. He believed that man’s purpose in life was the fulfilment of God’s purpose and as such, he owed no obligation to anybody or anything but to God..

THE negative responses from residents who are expecting to be dislocated by the Government’s East Port of Spain development plan suggest the need for meaningful dialogue and consultation with affected communities and the wider national community.

The fact that such consultation appears not to have been built into the plan is a worrying indicator. In this day and age, community engagement is a critical and standard aspect of public planning, especially for heritage areas, such as Piccadilly, and others, like Sea Lots in this case, where residents developed entire communities out of waste land.

I think more than enough time has passed for us to discuss national issues based on appreciating the facts, rather than just promoting divisiveness and ignorance.

Please allow me to comment on three things, perhaps insignificant, but nevertheless, three things that caught my eye over the last few days. But first, a preamble.

In this Covid-19 period, there is very little for elderly people like myself to do, so we wait eagerly for the news, through the dailies, and of course, on TV.

To be honest, today’s reports can be rather depressing, except of course, the good news about a 94.5 per cent success rate of a vaccine against his dreaded virus.

To be honest, it’s the 5.5 per cent balance that troubles me. You know, it’s like those liquids that kill 99 per cent of household germs; who measures the 1 per cent? Anyway, better than nothing.