Years of marital abuse comes to the fore after woman’s house torched

Even as Good Hope is beginning to feel the Christmas spirit, Ramrattie Roopchand and her five children are homeless after a fire, allegedly started by the woman’s reputed husband, ravaged their house.

Early Monday morning the woman’s Lot 111 Phase Two Good Hope, East Coast Demerara home was reportedly set ablaze by her drunken reputed husband. Roopchand, distressed from her recent ordeal, told Stabroek News that she left for her mother’s home after suffering two beatings from her reputed husband on Sunday.

“He beat me in de morning Sunday and then he go out and drink mo’ rum and he come back and beat me in de afternoon…is after I get de second beating that me mother-in-law carry me by my mother house with de children,” Roopchand related.

At about 11pm on Sunday, Roopchand recalled, the man showed up at her mother’s home, also in Good Hope, became abusive and threatened to burn the Lot 111 house. Shortly after midnight Roopchand saw smoke billowing from the area where her house was located.

Ramrattie Roopchand and her five children
Ramrattie Roopchand and her five children

“At first meh didn’t want to believe it,” the woman said, “and even though I been and see that I ain’t got a house no mo’ is like I still can’t believe it.”
Since the incident Roopchand said her reputed husband has been “in hiding”. The fire, she further explained, was reported to police and for the first time in over a decade she reported the man’s beatings.

“Nobody ain’t see he since this fire but be been calling me and telling me how he sorry and how he going to build back de house and so,” Roopchand said.
However, despite the man’s pleadings Roopchand insists that she intends to press charges. Her reputed husband, she said, called during yesterday, apologized for what had happened and requested to speak to the children.

“I let he talk to de children but I tell he that I ain’t want to hear nothing else ‘bout anything,” Roopchand stated.
The woman and her five children were still staying with relatives up to yesterday. Roopchand’s elderly parents indicated that they are willing to help their daughter but will not be able to do much for her and the children financially.

“Me and meh husband willing fuh keep dem (Roopchand and her children) but he sickly and doesn’t work too steady and me does try to scrape whatever lil meh can,” Shirley Roopchand said. “Is years now meh daughter going through this abuse but she does hide it from we.”

Eloped
Roopchand, 28, eloped with her reputed husband 14 years ago. Except for a 3 month lapse in their relationship several years ago the woman said she has been with him ever since.
Over the past 14 years of her life Roopchand has endured endless physical, psychological and verbal abuse.

“I never tell nobody about wah used to deh happening to me but after a while de neighbours dem start to know,” Roopchand said.
Although her reputed husband abused her constantly and was drunk more than half of every week he still provided money to buy food for them. The man, according to Roopchand, tried to give his children all they could afford but it was his “mean streak” which caused their relationship to slowly deteriorate.

Ramrattie Roopchand points to the remains of her Good Hope home.
Ramrattie Roopchand points to the remains of her Good Hope home.

“Most time he try he best to get steady work and once he working, I ain’t going to talk lie, he used to bring money to maintain de house,” Roopchand related, “but every time he get pay he does go and drink and that is where de problems does come.”

Roopchand met her husband when she was 14. The man, 21 at the time, took Roopchand to his parents’ home and two years later the woman had her first child. Even before her first child Roopchand said the man would beat her.

“I don’t know why I na lef’ he in dem two years before I get me first baby but after I get me child I had to stay and I always stay because ah me children dem but this time I nah getting back with him,” the woman said.

Shirley Roopchand said she never agreed to her daughter’s relationship with her reputed husband. “I tell me self that she done gone with he and if that is what she want then I can’t do nothing,” Shirley said.

Now more than a decade after her elopement Roopchand cannot say whether she regrets her decision. She says she has endured many things but her children have always made life worth living. Roopchand also said that over the years she had prayed for her reputed husband to change and thought that if she waited “a lil bit mo’” things would get better.
“I always used to tell meself that if I stay a lil bit mo’ then things go be alright…but things never get alright,” the woman stated.

Locked-up

Roopchand says although she was seen walking along the streets of Good Hope or visiting nearby communities she was never a free woman.
Her reputed husband, she explained, has always been an extremely possessive and jealous person. She was not even allowed to look out of her windows, Roopchand said, insisting that this was not an exaggeration.

“I telling you and is na mek a mountain I trying to mek a mountain out of a molehill but this man used to nail down the windows so I couldn’t look outside and see nobody,” the woman said.
Roopchand could speak to no one without her husband accusing her of having other motives. The woman said she tried several times to become employed as a domestic worker but her reputed husband wouldn’t let her.

The woman admits that she gave up her education to be with her reputed husband and now she has no qualifications with which to secure a proper job. It was the knowledge that she could not support herself or her children, Roopchand said, that gave her the “strength” to remain with her abusive partner.

“I end up being de loser in all ah this,” Roopchand said. “I beg to build that house and now it gone and is now I realize how much years of meh life I gon can’t get back…everybody but me and meh children going to get Christmas this year.”

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