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Thursday 22 March 2018

Margaret’s familiar story

WE JOIN the national community, and particularly the residents of Sangre Grande, in mourning the murder of Margaret Ragoobar Guevarra whose life was brutally taken on Monday. And we express condolences to Margaret’s family, including her five children who must now come to terms with their mother’s death.

This latest killing is yet another in a long line of tragic cases. We expect to hear the usual calls from various bodies for more to be done to protect those who fall prey to domestic abuse. Those calls are merited. Of all the people murdered in 2017, one-tenth were female victims of domestic violence.

However, the deeper issue is the problem of gender imbalance; the problem of our inability to recognise that women and men must be treated the same.

Women are not things and men do not own them. Behind every brutal act of domestic violence is a desire to assert the impossible; to claim ultimate dominion over a fellow human being.

Margaret’s murder comes just as the world is getting ready to commemorate International Women’s Day. It also comes mere weeks after our own Carnival celebrations, an annual ritual in which woman power is put on display.

When it comes to domestic violence, women face tremendous obstacles. Sometimes a woman makes a report to the police. Sometimes she does not.

Sometimes the police take action. Sometimes they do not. Each case is different, even if the violations are ultimately the same.

In our society we have a long-standing saying: you don’t interfere with husband and wife business.

We have jealously guarded the fact that each relationship is different; is the private domain of the two people who are best in a position to judge. But has this idea helped or harmed us? It is time for us to revise our thinking.

In this regard it is not a question of choosing partners carefully. That is just another way of blaming the victim while not focusing on the man; of supporting the notion that it is natural for a man to act out his feelings violently while deeming it unnatural for a woman to do the very human act of falling in love.

We need to shake up our antiquated thinking. We need to discourage men and boys from believing they are somehow entitled to ownership of another person’s body. To do that we all have to set an example, in our words and in our deeds. It’s not just a matter of the support offered by the police. It’s a matter of the root cause of it all: our minds.


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