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Friday 20 October 2017
Letters to the Editor

Hate attacks on elderly women

I am trying to understand what is happening in Trinidad. It is not simply that there is spiralling violence and increasing discontent. It is not even that there is a form of hubris that makes us think that God is a Trini and that hurricanes may wreak havoc and disaster on other Caribbean shores but we remain inviolate.

It is not even that some in our nation actually blame the current extraordinary spate of storms on the fact that we have people who are gay in our midst (believe it or not). What I find increasingly difficult to understand is the current aggression against elderly women.

This mounting violence and even hatred against older women suggests two things: first an unreasoning rancour against those who may be seen to have in some way laid the groundwork for the development of the nation and may therefore be blamed for our current situation. This is obviously irrational, but we all know that women and mothers are often blamed for what happens to the generations that come after them. It is one of the ways that patriarchy absolves itself.

There may also be a building resentment levelled at women who are now seen to be fast overtaking men in business, the professions and academia. We know that for whatever reason, young women in particular are excelling in areas hitherto dominated by men and boys.

This is not the fault of the women and the girls. Perhaps we need to look more closely at how our young men are taught to regard the females in their lives.

But there is perhaps more to it than this. About a year ago I interviewed a Trinidadian psychiatrist who claimed that the biggest problem that we face as a people is our inability to say thank you to the past. We prefer to hate it and ourselves. In other words the past and those who have helped to shape it have become burdens.

If one thinks about it, the women who have in recent times borne the brunt of irrational violence are those who came of age during the birth of our nation. In a sense, these women are the mothers of our Caribbean State.

This suggests that we may perhaps not be able to accept the value of those who have shaped us. But this really derives from our inability to accept responsibility for our own actions. We know that there are neurotics who actually begin to hate those who have shaped them and who, because they feel indebted and cannot tolerate this sense of indebtedness, turn their feelings around and into a symphony of blame against those very individuals who made them who they are. Is this at the core of our present spate of attacks on elderly women?

I was particularly appalled at the murders of Dr Claire Broadbridge and Ramdevi Singh. But I also remembered the two women whose bodies were found in Siparia around Carnival time. They were pillars of society.

I have no idea if my analysis is correct. What I do know is that women who came of age in the sixties and who are now having their throats cut and their bodies stripped of clothing or who are being exposed to other indignities have become symbols in my mind of that sense of self-hatred that, I think, is at the heart of our diseased State.

There has to be a reason why those who have contributed to our society are now becoming subject to a level of humiliation and anger that we have never before experienced.

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