The issue is whether this entertainer is a suitable choice for the govt’s support
The government’s decision to enthusiastically support the planned Chris Brown December concert raises a number of questions, and there are also implications in a wider social context on the efforts to tackle the issue of gender abuse in Guyana.
S4 Foundation believes the issue is not whether Brown performs in Guyana, but whether government support is acceptable. Indeed, the commonness of domestic abuse in our country is acknowledged at the government and stakeholder level, but serious challenges remain at the community level. Many young men and women in our communities are still unaware that domestic violence in the global context has now been defined as a serious human rights violation, as opposed to your average “mistake, and they are also unaware that when a man batters his girlfriend and/or wife, it is not a private matter, but a public one.
As we debate the issues, it is important to note that a coordinated community response strengthened by the involvement of our young people is essential in our fight to tackle gender abuse in Guyana, in addition to the supporting structures which include temporary safe housing, support groups, empowerment counselling, networking with social support services, legal advocacy for survivors.
The Guyana government has increased its efforts in the fight against domestic abuse, but we are not convinced these efforts are robust enough, given the continued high number of incidents of domestic abuse and murders. In addition, funding for domestic violence programmes and awareness campaigns continues to be below what is required to effectively tackle the problem. Both the government and the concert’s organisers would be aware that the kind of substantial resources which are required to bring Chris Brown here are desperately needed to strengthen the local fight.
Research indicates that at least 16% of couples experience violence in their relationship in a given year. Local newspaper reports confirm the level of violence that is perpetrated against Guyanese women daily, and these are only the reported cases. Whether Chris Brown has been counselled, completed community service and has reunited with Rihanna, who suffered a widely-publicised battering at his hands, is not the issue. The issue is whether this entertainer is a suitable choice at this time for the government’s support in light of recent statistics and continued reports of partner violence.
S4 is also concerned that the debates about the government’s support for this concert have revealed an increasing number of young Guyanese women who have dismissed Rihanna’s abuse.
Indeed, this disturbing view is in line with the feelings of those who believe that she was responsible for the incident, despite the fact that Brown unequivocally denounced his actions in both a statement and a YouTube video. (One poll of young people in the US that was done after the attack found that close to 50% of those surveyed blamed her for it!)
If the debate surrounding Brown’s concert here widens to include discussions on our challenges with domestic violence, and is perhaps informed more by stakeholder analyses of how insufficient resources are impacting on efforts, it might provide a context for why many of us have opposed Brown’s visit here.
Finally, we call on the Guyana government to show responsible leadership in these difficult times, when women across the country are looking for support to engineer their escape from abusive relationships and violence in their homes.
Chris Brown is not the only person who deserves a “second chance.” Women across the country are looking for support networks and in some cases they are looking for financial support. Support our women, not just Chris Brown.
On behalf of the Sisters
of the S4 Foundation