Express Editorial : Daily

TODAY the nation says a final goodbye to Andrea Bharatt, the young woman whose brutal ending has become a symbol of the violence from which so many of our women die, and with which so many others live. She leaves behind a family caught in its own worst nightmare and a nation reeling from direct exposure to the wreckage of a criminal justice system.

In any other year, today would have been Fantastic Friday with the calendar event being the International Soca Monarch competition. We knew coming into the year that there would be no Fantastic Friday. Covid-19 had seen to that. But we never expected to be entering Carnival weekend swimming in an ocean of tears for another lost member of our tribe.

As we say goodbye to another murdered woman, and another youthful life cut short by violence we must quickly figure out what series of immediate actions will put the brake on criminals while we work out how to repair the broken system to deliver a safer country.

In Puerto Rico last month, widespread outrage over the killing of Nurse Angie Noemi Gonzalez by her partner prompted the governor to declare a state of emergency over gender violence. The measure gave Gov Pedro Pierluisi broad powers to implement policies across government agencies aimed at preventing violence against women.

In Trinidad and Tobago, we are still waiting for the Government’s response to the wildfire of spreading anger at the unrelenting violence against women.

So far, the Government seems unable to see the problem beyond partisan politics. Its attempt to divide public opinion through the Evidence Amendment Bill has fallen flat because the country understands that removing the cancer of crime requires far much more than a legal scalpel. It goes without saying that politicians of every stripe will seek advantage in the current situation. If Government MPs were in the Opposition at this time they, too, would be in the frontline of protest. But the predictable playing out of political agendas does not alter the reality of the national state of insecurity, particularly among women and girls.

People are standing together on this issue because they know that violence is no respecter of political affiliation, race, age, religion, income, education or social standing. Anyone paying attention to the outpouring on social media of personal experiences by girls and women who have experienced sexual assault would know that this issue cuts far deeper than any social barrier. Almost every female wakes up each day knowing she can be a target of sexual aggression, whether inside her home, on the road, in an office, at church or at recreation. In the United States, black parents have been sharing what it feels like to have “that talk” with their young black sons about avoiding becoming targets of racist violence. Here in T&T, parents have “that talk” with their daughters: what not to wear, how not to walk, where not to be, how not to watch… to avoid becoming another statistic. It is too late for Andrea Bharatt but saving others may be possible if we begin by facing the truth.

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Due to a glitch, the wrong Raffique Shah column appeared in yesterday’s Sunday Express. The correct column appears below.

The error is regretted.

IF a brush with death is said to prompt man to reflect more deeply on life, then the Covid-19 pandemic that swooped down on mankind last year, cutting a path of death and destruction such as we had never seen in our lifetime, has also triggered deep thinking on the social contracts that exist among governments and the governed, on how societies are structured to sustain inequality, and on altering such arrangements, replacing them with more equitable alternatives.

EVEN as Trinidad and Tobago joins the world in observing International Women’s Day today it is evident that many women are too busy trying to survive and to stay alive to see the relevance of this day to their lives.

Women’s non-governmental organisations (NGOs) raised the consciousness of women to challenge prevailing myths that spousal abuse, rape and sexual abuse were the fault of women. Feminist NGOs forced public political discourses and attitudinal changes in society’s views on domestic violence and violence against women.

For International Women’s Day, ECLAC (Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean) Caribbean calls on individuals to #choosetochallenge gender inequality and gender-based violence

ECLAC Caribbean is championing the call to elevate the voices who #choosetochallenge gender-based violence (GBV) and gender inequality, as well as limiting beliefs and attitudes about women’s roles in the home, workplace, and society.

Nearly a year ago, on March 12, 2020, Trinidad and Tobago recorded its first Covid-19 case, marking the arrival of the pandemic to the sister-island nation. The ensuing lockdown and other restrictions protected the lives of the nation. However, while these measures safeguarded the people from the virus, it also took, and indeed, is still taking a heavy toll on the livelihoods of the people who have had to adjust to the new realities.

All over the world, women lead. They lead peace processes, run businesses, establish hospitals and schools. They are presidents of countries and corporate boards. They head international and grassroots organisations, faith-based groups and sports teams, labour and environmental movements, often while caring for their families and communities.