Classical markers of violence against women

Dear Editor,

Shocking! Of course it is! It is barbarous and utterly reprehensible. It is a ghastly act of femicide. Over two weeks ago, there had been saturated media coverage of a man who had allegedly perpetrated a cold-blooded execution in public for the sole purpose of revenge. In my opinion, the killing was an act of unspeakable horror and savagery. It was a cowardly act of revenge, marked by the excessive use of violence, that was designed to kill, and it did kill, a totally defenceless woman.

In most femicides, the victim’s behaviour is scrutinized and blamed, when measured against the idealized constructions of femininity and standards of female behaviour. There is some of the aforementioned in this case. One politician describes the victim as a ‘quarrelling woman’

In all societies there are elaborate rules of conduct around hierarchies and genders that are not laid out in specific language but are deeply understood. For many Guyanese, this case is pregnant with signification. The excessive use of force is an implicit reminder to the victim and yes, to public at large, of “who I am”; “I have power, don’t mess with me!”

In the age of scrutiny, where it’s inevitable that everything will leak; since the offence, anecdotal evidence has surfaced that there had been much violence in the relationship between the accused and the victim, which is not unsurprising. One doesn’t leap from mere verbal aggression to the allegation of murder. Surely there had to be an antecedent history of violent offending, perpetrated by the accused.

The offence had been committed in public; an ugly spectacle for all to see. While the primary victim has regrettably died, the secondary victims, which are relatives and friends of the primary victim, and yes, relatives of the accused, and also men, women and children, who had witnessed it, will live with enduring emotional and psychological problems.

This incident provides us with the classical diagnostic markers of domestic violence/ violence against women: power, control, subjugation, commodification, commandism, bullying and manipulation, underpinned by patriarchy, within and without the domestic setting,

Thou boy of tears; thou hast done a deed whereat valour will weep.

(Coriolanus)

Yours faithfully,

Joseph B Collins

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