Domestic violence affects us all
Stabroek News
February 11, 2002

Dear Editor,

I commend Stabroek News for keeping up the pressure on certain kinds of social ills which may otherwise remain unattended. I refer here to your editorial captioned 'Domestic Violence' (SN, 8.2.02), which I hope will be absorbed by all your readers and the community for it is something, which affects us all. Any form of violence that is allowed to breed in one part of a community, will inevitably affect the entire community. Consider that some children who have witnessed cases of domestic violence, internalise those experiences, which arguably become replicated in their adult lives. It is imperative that the community is educated about domestic violence, not least because in the cases you outline, it can result in death. But also because it can and should be prevented. Every member of Guyana's communities should be committed to ensuring the well being of others. And in families this obviously goes without saying. Yet at times, acts of violence against members of a family are ignored or considered the norm, and if violence is ignored in this way, what else is covered up? Domestic violence, sexual abuse, paedophilia are the worst forms of diseases endemic within some families and in turn, society. In some countries (Guyana being one such) they are closeted, swept under beds - never outside the yard. Some individuals who know, say and do nothing. This might suggest a lack of conscience or self worth, or the result of generations and generations of such experiences within families. So much so that some families take it for granted that violence and other forms of abuse are part of their everyday experience, going hand in hand with the occasional semblance of love. But more accurately, I think family taboo is sometimes responsible. Rather than the acts themselves being taboo, it seems that it is taboo to discuss ('to talk/tell' as in 'see an' blin', hear an 'deaf'!) these vile acts or to expose the perpetrators. This is rather like making up a bed full of cockroaches, rats and other pests, encouraging them to fester, giving them room in your home instead of destroying them. And I don't know anyone in Guyana (or anywhere else) who would do such a disgusting thing. There needs to be a re evaluating of self and community, a rebuilding of family ethics, which do not allow such obscenities to become the norm. This ethos, I hope, would extend to the entire Guyanese community. It's up to all of us to play a part, even granted that we expect a measure of protection from the state and its officials (i.e. the police), which, as your editorial highlights, is not always forthcoming.

Yours faithfully
Michelle Stoby