A slap in the face to domestic violence victims

There are two sides of Chris Brown. One side is a violent man who can use his own two hands to mercilessly brutalise a woman he supposedly loves. The other side is a man who can dance and sing to entertain the world. One side is a convicted criminal. The other side is a smiling performer.

And there are two sides of the Government of Guyana. One side announced a “no nonsense” approach to domestic abuse and vowed “not to sit idly by and allow Guyanese women to continue suffering at the hands of violent spouses.” The other side glorifies a convicted woman abuser by bringing him to entertain the nation.

One side of the government says, “It is a criminal and abhorrent act when any woman is abused emotionally, mentally or physically and no woman should be a victim of sexual or domestic violence [Donald Ramotar, December 2011].” The other side says, “What comes first is bringing wealth into Guyana for us from the tourism sector through attracting tourists here and giving our people here a quality entertainment, quality show, quality performance that I think they all deserve [Tourism Minister, Irfaan Ali, October, 2012].”

Actually, what the people deserve is to live a life without fear of being abused and murdered by a spouse. To hell with a “quality entertainment, quality show, quality performance,” let the women live without fear!

How often have I heard various ministers of the government talk about how youth need positive role models and good examples to follow? Anytime some evil act is committed, like a woman being murdered at the hands of her man or a little girl being raped – the government says there are too many bad role models today. Yet the government proudly parades around a criminal woman beater for our entertainment.

What kind of signal does this send? It says that “bringing wealth into Guyana” is more important than the safety of the nation’s women. It says that talking out of both sides of your mouth concerning violence against women is justified so long as everyone can dance.

This image of Rihanna’s battered face was posted on showbiz website TMZ shortly after Chris Brown was charged with assaulting her in 2009. The photo, taken for police records, was leaked to the website and soon after went viral.

This news is particularly exasperating right now as October is dedicated to domestic violence awareness. Even worse, when Chris Brown arrogantly struts onto the stage in December, the nation – being led by the government – will just be wrapping up their annual 16-Day Campaign Against Violence, which begins on November 25, International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and ends on December 10, Human Rights Day.

During these 16 days, there will be solemn moments of remembering the many women who have been brutally murdered this year. There will be speeches of how, as a country, there is a responsibility for all to set good examples for the children. We will bow our heads in silence and remember the many victims of violence, those living and dead. Everyone will click their tongues and ask how much longer must women suffer.

I will tell you how much longer; the murders and beatings will continue for as long as we continue to pretend that it is just fine for a man to mercilessly beat a woman as long as he can get up dazzle us with a song and dance. This is what all abusers do in one way or another. Chris Brown is just better at it than most. Does it even matter that your co-worker, your neighbour, your sister or your friend is living in constant fear? Do the constant string of brutal murders of women matter? Or perhaps the better question is whether the lives of women matter more than having a star come to Guyana?

It seriously turns my stomach to know that some Guyanese women will actually spend their own money to go see a man who can beat a woman like Chris Brown beat Rihanna. Anyone who has seen domestic violence in action knows full well that a one-time beat down does not happen.

Abuse is a long and terrifying affair that starts small and grows from there. Rihanna (who grew up in an abusive home) was already accustomed to abuse, which made her a perfect victim for Brown.

Who gives a damn if a man can sing and dance if he beats women? I am only concerned about the side that tortures women. Chris Brown is a criminal. Are we so desperate to be perpetually entertained that we will stoop so low as to patronise a man who beats women?

How can anyone in good conscience go to the concert of this woman beater without seeing the brutalized face of Rihanna? That type of violence used against Rihanna is the same type of violence used to slit the throats of an Anna Catherina mother and her sons [6 years and 18 months] this month. How can we dance for woman-beating Chris Brown while women all around us are being slapped, punched, hit, pushed, chopped, cut, shot and so, so much more?

Chris Brown defenders say we should forgive him since he is sorry. If he is sorry, great, let him use his remorse to fix his obvious character flaws. But do not parade him around in front of the nation to be idolized by the masses! This is an entertainer to be boycotted, not promoted.

The decision to bring Chris Brown to entertain Guyana is a slap in the face to every single victim of domestic violence in country (and there are many). Just imagine the government parading around a father who brutalises his children every night or the woman-beater whose wife cowers in the corner he beat her into. This is exactly what the government is doing by bringing in Chris Brown to perform.

Mark my words, this is not the last time my readers will hear from me on this topic. Hell would have to freeze over before I was caught dancing at a Chris Brown concert. To do so would be to betray the very women for whom I advocate…which is exactly what the government is doing.

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