LETTER: Urgent action needed to curb intimate partner violence in Guyana

Amrita Rahim was stabbed to death a few days ago by her partner
Amrita Rahim (L) was reportedly stabbed to death a few days ago by her partner

Dear Editor,

Within the past few days, the media has reported on the deaths of three women, at the hands of men. The first woman was burnt to death by her husband, who set their home on fire, the second woman was a sixteen-year-old girl who was stabbed 20 times by a man with whom it is alleged she was in a relationship with but which she recently severed and the third woman was stabbed several times by her husband. In the first case, the man committed suicide by burning himself in the fire and the second case the man attempted suicide by consuming a poisonous substance and it is not certain what is his current medical condition.

Editor, in all three of these deaths, these helpless women were brutally and violently killed by a man who they trusted and were in a relationship with except for the sixteen-year-old, who it is reported had severed the relationship. And then these cowardly men, after committing their evil act, decide to commit suicide or attempt suicide. These women do not deserve to be slaughtered like that or to be victims of any kind of intimate partner violence. Women are human beings too that deserve love, respect, comfort, and protection. It is high time now that these types of violence against women stop. Women should not have to live in fear for their lives.

Editor, the intimate partner violence situation in Guyana is out of control and there needs to be urgent interventions to curb this behaviour and wipe it out completely. I am sure many persons will be looking to the Government to initiate such interventions but we cannot rely on the Government to do everything.

We need to start initiating these interventions by ourselves. We need to start within ourselves first and by ourselves here I mean we men need to start acting to change this behaviour. Intimate partner violence is a learned behaviour and therefore it can be unlearnt. We men need to start initiating this behavioural change from within ourselves. We men need to recognise that it is not a macho thing to hit or kill a woman. Rather hitting and killing a woman is a cowardly and evil act. It is a manifestation of our own insecurities and low self-esteem that we feel the need to hit a woman to soothe our bruised ego. We men must act now to stop intimate partner violence.

Editor, I believe it is time that we men start doing some self-evaluation and introspection of ourselves and our actions. Traditionally we are supposed to be the maintainers and protectors of women but rather we have become the biggest threat to their existence. It is like we are at war with our womenfolk. Imagine a man taking a knife and stabbing a woman, who he is supposed to have loved, 20 times. What kind of rage and hate would make a man do something like that? Are we men out of control? Is the pacifying of our ego so much more important than the lives of the women who we have killed? No, it cannot be. Men cannot survive in this world without their better half. And it is time now that we take stock of our actions and work to create a better society for our women.

We also need to be our brother’s keepers and talk to or stop other men who we see ill-treating women. When we men hang out, whether it is in the rum shop, the workplace, the church, the mosque, the mandir, the golf club, the cricket ground, the football ground or just liming on the street corner, we need to bring up the topic of intimate partner violence. We need to talk about it all the time. We need to talk about it so much until it has become ingrained in our psyche that we must not hit women. We need to counsel our sons and nephews that they must not hit women. In every ‘gaff’ that we have, we must talk about intimate partner violence. We men have a huge responsibility to ensure that we stop and eradicate intimate partner violence.

Kind regards,

Shazad Sookram