I was more than a little taken aback at the negative response to my last column, which condemned the government’s involvement in bringing Chris Brown – a convicted woman beater – to perform in Guyana.
Why was I so surprised to see such outrage over my condemnation of a singer? Because I have been writing on domestic violence for years and have never once seen such outrage to even the most gruesome of murders. This is truly a sad situation.
There were some on Facebook who even had the nerve to suggest that my time would be better spent dancing and having a good time. That was one of the kinder responses. Others suggested that my loving husband beats me (he has never laid a hand on me). Some were far more crass and even raunchy (this was on another person’s Facebook page, I would never allow such disrespect on my own).
There were also some who wanted me to switch my focus to the four young men who have been murdered this year by law enforcement. While this is a noble quest, there seems to be plenty of moral outrage over these murders already so I believe I will continue my struggle to put the brutal slayings of 26 women this year in the spotlight.
Yes, there have been 26 women murdered this year by men who ‘loved’ them, yet for these women there were no protests, no streets shut down, no tyres burnt, no moral outrage and no public outcry. Yet, when I offer a valid view that it is not a good idea to bring a convicted woman beater to a country that has seen 26 women murdered so far in 2012, this is when there is outrage?
I wish with all of my heart that just once I could see such a vehement response to the women who are tortured and murdered on a constant basis as there was about my feelings over whether a measly performer should be allowed to sing and dance for Guyana.
Moreover, Chris Brown’s victim is a woman of Guyanese ancestry! She has as much Guyanese in her as my own daughter. I would hope with everything in me that the people of Guyana would stand up for my daughter if someone brutally beat her the way that Chris Brown beat Rihanna. And I would hope my daughter’s physical and mental well-being would mean more than being able to dance to the music of a woman beater.
There is the idea that since Rihanna has forgiven Chris Brown, so should the rest of us. The Minister of Tourism led this ridiculous parade at the press conference announcing the concert when he actually quoted the Bible verse, “Let him without sin cast the first stone.” Really? How about “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”? Or “Thou shalt not murder”? This is so exhausting some times.
Be that as it may, I have never beaten any person, so does that mean I qualify to throw stones? Or are we to now stop judging all thieves, murderers and other such criminals? In any case, the issue at hand is not about forgiveness or judging (although it is proper and right to judge the actions of others), the issue is about putting a convicted woman beater in position of influence in front of thousands of people. Were there no performers who haven’t beat women?
One dear Sister put it this way, “Guyana has so very many cases of domestic violence. Many women [are] killed because the victims forgave the abusers. If a man can do to a woman what this guy did, then I can’t understand how he can be brought here. What message is being sent? There are so many good singers who respect women.”
A young Sister said, “Can’t believe how women are so excited to support this criminal, a woman beater!! Just sick!”
Just this week Stabroek News reported about a 19-year-old woman who was beaten by her partner over a photograph. The abuser allegedly discovered a photograph with the victim and another friend, and “…became annoyed and started punching and kicking the woman about her body, causing her visible injuries. Prosecutor Winneth Hubbard added that after the altercation, [the victim] left but as she was walking away, [the abuser] resumed the assault, dealing her more cuffs and kicks to her body, thereby causing more injuries.”
Is this woman’s life less important than dancing at a concert? What about the woman who was beaten with a pointer broom this week?
In much the same way the incessant brutality and murders of women are dismissed, it seems the issue of bringing a convicted woman beater to Guyana is also dismissed. After all, if the Goedverwagting mother of three who was stabbed fourteen times (14 times!!!) less than two weeks ago because she would not consume the rat poison being forced on her by her partner can be dismissed so easily, then so can the ramifications of bringing a mere woman beater to Guyana.
If the government truly wants to build a nation that is safe for women, that goal will not accomplished by bringing in a man who is an example of how not to treat women. How is it that there are performers who are banned from Guyana for singing about violence, but someone who has actually committed violence is not banned? (I had many people ask me this question. To which, of course, I had not answer.)
The worst part of all of this is how it has made victims feel even more abandoned by the community. When they need nurturing, they have instead watched the community, even the women, rally behind an abuser, an abuser just like their own abuser.
But hey, that’s okay! Everyone will get to dance at the concert and go on pretending like those victims don’t exist. Until they are the victim.