THE EDITOR: I wish I could resist the temptation of being cynical about the passion of the television interview on the recent deaths of three women at the hands of rejected suitors, of the call for no free passes on restraining orders, and of the formation of the new police Gender-Based Violence Unit.
But as the reality of these murdered women stares you in the face, you wonder if this is the standard reaction to atrocities such as these after the fact, a kind of fatalistic resignation to what must be because nothing can be done to avoid such, and that tomorrow will see a recurrence in some form or other.
These seemingly sincere but knee-jerk reactions appear, at best, to be attempts at palliating the public and do not reflect a concerted effort to take a rational look at the problem and to find practical solutions. More than the wailing and gnashing of teeth we need to look at the problem from two angles:
1. We need to tackle this rampant criminality which reflects a mindset now fully entrenched in the psyche of those so inclined, after long years of indifference and neglect. This mindset is so ingrained in the would-be criminal that even as we attempt to rehabilitate, the objective must be to deter, for rehabilitation can only be minimal in its effect on such a hardcore group.
This deterrence must inevitably come from the police who should take a community-based approach which facilitates citizens working with the police to report incidents and to provide like information, with its corollary of a continuing police presence in the form of police posts to put a brake on criminal activity.
Of course the link must continue with an efficiently working judicial system focusing on apprehension and prosecution. It is only with such a consolidated thrust that we can make a significant dent on this “criminality without conscience” which now overwhelms us.
2. This attempt at rehabilitation/deterrence must necessarily run parallel with the development of a new mindset in the young for the future, because it is only by getting into their heads and encouraging them to think critically about the choices they must make, based on a moral sense of right and wrong, that we can avert the horror of the present.
The basis for this must be set in the home and reinforced by the church and other social institutions whose role it is to provide guidance for the youth.
But it is the school that must play a major role in their ongoing development, taking a critical approach to teaching and learning, not only with their occupational streams, but in exposing the young to the values of family and positive relationships.
The school must do this through the social sciences, and through literature, to expose them to challenges of life in books to make them more knowledgeable, and dare I say more human, in living it in reality, inter alia.
The latter must become an integral part of the experience of young people in the schools and should not be looked at as merely a side show in favour of the “professions.”
But all the above are merely words blowing idly in the wind, as much as the passion of those reacting to the horror of the last few days, unless there is the will to look at the problem squarely in the eye and look for meaningful solutions.
DR ERROL N BENJAMIN