Not just any woman

Comments attributed to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education of St Vincent and the Grenadines Mrs Girlyn Miguel, who was recently quoted on the internet news website I-Witness as exhorting women of that island nation to “dress properly” so that they don’t tempt men, sparked outrage – not only among Vincentians but also among other readers on the world wide web as the article was quickly spread via Facebook and Twitter. But, surprisingly, to some, a fair number of people – women and men – supported what Mrs Miguel said.

Mrs Miguel, who is the only woman minister in a ten-member Cabinet as well as the only female government parliamentary representative, took what was so obviously a golden opportunity to speak to men about their behaviours and trampled upon it. Instead, she chose to lambaste women, particularly young women, blaming them for being “abused, refused and accused” by men mainly because of their choice of dress.

One would hope that the Minister would have addressed other issues as well, and not just her angst about women’s mode of dress. If not, there is no doubt that her address will go down as one of the all-time most ignorant and self-loathing of parliamentary speeches. Mrs Miguel referred to women exposing their breasts, when the “big uses” of these organs are to nurse their babies and comfort their husbands, drawing chuckles from her male counterparts. Kowtowing further to the men in the House, she later pleaded that if women “do not do the things which are right, we do not have to kill them, we do not have to chop them we need to have that love in our hearts.” This statement, perhaps more than the reference to young women’s mode of dress, reveals Mrs Miguel’s misogyny. To her, women are the villains for not doing the “right” things and she therefore aligns herself with the men, “we do not have to kill them.”

Mrs Miguel, who according to the Vincentian government’s website, was an educator for 30 years before entering politics, is no greenhorn in the House either, having first become an MP 13 years ago. Sadly, instead of being celebrated because of her achievements, Mrs Miguel stands out as a beacon for why women should not be elected or selected simply because of their feminine gender. Hers is the kind of narrow thinking that women should avoid like the plague. For the record, how a woman dresses has very little to do with abuse, particularly rape. Men who abuse women, physically and sexually, do so for power, control and out of hatred for the female species.

According to the I-Witness website, statistically, St Vincent and the Grenadines is the “femicide capital of the eight-member Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States.” With three women murdered already in less than three weeks of this year, and the rampaging increases in such crimes in previous years, Guyana is also looking at record-breaking statistics. A great many of the murders of women, including the latest on Tuesday of 32-year-old Rushelle Rodney are the culmination of years of spousal abuse. There was also an increase last year in the number of murders of elderly women who lived alone, pointing to either a serial killer(s) or opportunistic scum who set out to prey on the vulnerable.

The Domestic Violence Act, touted as one of the successes of the previous administration has done squat to protect women from being maimed and killed by the men who would have already abused them for most of their lives. And it seems clear that the Guyana Police Force lacks the capacity to pursue investigating along the line of serial killings or opportunistic ones for that matter. The murder of 66-year-old Bebe Jahooral Banu, whose body was discovered on January 1, joined four other cases of elderly women that remain unsolved from last year.

These are the issues the women of Guyana will expect their parliamentary representatives – particularly the women – to move to have addressed. The promises of a more inclusive Parliament, with members’ days that actually count will ensure that this is done. We have the faith that not even our greenest MP will do ‘a Girlyn.’

More in Editorial

default placeholder

The city authorities

The Mayor & City Council seems to lurch from one embarrassment to the next. First it was the eviction of the street vendors without having detailed arrangements in place for their relocation; then it was the scandal of the proposed parking meters; and now it’s the court humiliation in relation to the container tax recently announced by the municipality.

default placeholder

Self-evident truths

Narratives of America’s decline have become so entrenched in the US media that is possible to forget that the same news outlets that created, and continue to foster, such pessimism are responsible for giving Donald Trump an estimated US$2 billion in free media coverage.

default placeholder

Student loan defaulters

When the government released the findings of a forensic audit of the University of Guyana Student Loan Agency last month, there was an expectation in some quarters that an announcement would follow of a set of comprehensive steps to address this national problem.

default placeholder

Save the children

Last week, three minor girls aged ten, seven and five years old were seen on the seawall in a Berbice village at an hour in the morning which suggested that they would have slept there the night before.

default placeholder

The United States presidential race moves on

This week the American presidential race has moved on to a new stage, with the Republican convention to formally select a candidate currently being held, and that for the Democrats to take place next week – all in preparation for the presidential election on November 8.

default placeholder

Inexcusable security shortcomings

Early on Wednesday morning a West Demerara murder suspect who was being held at the La Grange Police Station escaped custody reportedly through a hole in the wall of the cell where he was being held.


About these comments

The comments section is intended to provide a forum for reasoned and reasonable debate on the newspaper's content and is an extension of the newspaper and what it has become well known for over its history: accuracy, balance and fairness. We reserve the right to edit or delete comments which contain attacks on other users, slander, coarse language and profanity, and gratuitous and incendiary references to race and ethnicity.

Stay updated! Follow Stabroek News on Facebook or Twitter.

Get the day's headlines from SN in your inbox every morning: