The media has a critical role to play in changing how domestic violence and other forms of gender based violence are addressed in Guyana. The murders over the weekend have generated stories which fall in the genre of ‘Why didn’t she do something about the abuse?’
Victim blaming is very easy to do and is always instinctive. Victim blaming is trying to find out from friends and relatives… what did she tell you?… why didn’t she leave?… Victim blaming is shifting responsibility away from the killers, the community of the killers and the system which nurtures killers of family members to those who, for many reasons, are trapped in abusive relationships. The web of abuse includes not only personal circumstances, but family, community, cultural and systemic issues which trap many people. No survivor of domestic violence owes anyone any explanation for entrapment.
The media can ask the family, friends, colleagues of the men who killed the women they were supposed to love about the environment which nurtured the killers, but they have not. There are no stories about whether the abusers and their friends have spoken about relationships and maintaining equality and dealing with infidelity. There are no stories which question the police about the consequences of stopping the intense training required to deal with domestic violence. The army in releasing its statement to distance itself from the killer did not say what mechanisms it has in place to help other abusers in its ranks. The media could ask though, and reinforce for the public that the responsibility for abuse is the abuser and those who nurture the abusive behaviour. No one has asked the army if they knew they had a killer in their midst, and what mechanisms they intend to put in place to heal those who might have murdering instincts.