The writing on the wall Editorial

Kaieteur News
December 8, 2006

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Two Fridays ago, hundreds of Guyanese commemorated International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women by placing palm prints, foot prints and writing positive slogans on a symbolic wall, but the nation soon got a gruesome reality check.

The next day, Police Constable Kumbarran Singh uplifted a .38 revolver from the Rose Hall Outpost and shot dead his paramour, Kamlita Latchmie, before killing himself. From all reports, the murder-suicide stemmed from the woman's decision to sever their three-year relationship.

Less than 48 hours later, Ramdial Bissoondyal doused his estranged wife, Dularie Bissoondyal, with gasoline and set her afire. He later committed suicide. She remains in a critical condition at Georgetown Hospital , in excruciating pain and unable to see or speak, just because of an abusive relationship.

Brutal murders like these are an urgent wake up call for Guyana . They are the ultimate end of an all too familiar pattern of violent abuse of females by males. The most distressing aspect is not the evil deeds themselves; it is the fact that they make us painfully aware of an even greater evil.

A far more enduring horror is that many other women in Guyana are at this very moment in the same types of abusive relationships and circumstances that led to Singh's death and Bissoondyal's agony. No one knows how many of them will be murdered or maimed, but even one more tragedy like these would be one too many.

In light of the appalling prevalence in Guyana of incidents like the death of Singh and the agonising injury to Bissoondyal, well-meaning gestures like the palm printing and wall signing exercises seem shallow and futile.

As right-thinking citizens reflect on these incidents, they ought to feel profound sorrow along with a distinct sense of guilt. Their sorrow should spring from the fact that our society continues to produce male monsters capable of inflicting extreme abuse on females, as well as females who accept and endure it.

Their guilt should come from the knowledge that as individuals and as a society they do not do enough to eliminate the scourge of violence against women.

What Guyana needs now is a massive public outcry against violence against women and abuse of females in all its ugly forms, from the mildest forms of sexual harassment to the most sickening for brutality. What it needs is a movement with real teeth to take potent action against the perpetrators and potential perpetrators of such violence and abuse.

The decent people of Guyana have to rise up against the abusers of women and expose, condemn and punish them, wherever or whoever they are, regardless of their race, education, social status or wealth. To get maximum results, women themselves have to initiate, steer and sustain this outcry and follow it up with positive, effective action.

The success of any campaign to eliminate violence against women cannot fully succeed without the concerted actions of women. Based on their vital influence on children, women can do much more to influence positive changes. They have to raise sons who do not abuse females and daughters who do not accept abuse from males.

Everyone in society who abhors violence against women must contribute more meaningfully to its elimination from Guyana.

There is writing on the symbolic wall that overpowers the palm prints and slogans people put there denouncing violence against women. The writing calls for a much bigger outcry and far more positive action-Śnow!