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Criminalising Indian Womanhood
Posted: Friday, June 6, 2003

By Stephen Kangal

I wish to publicise/convey my strongest objections against Independent Senator Dana Seetahal’s unconvincing and pathetic attempt to use dehydrated statistics, in isolation, to stigmatise and stereo-type Indian womanhood as criminals and murderers at the recent UWI Seminar held on the theme of Indentureship to Entrepreneurship (Express June 4, p.5).

Her presentation entitled "Indian Women and Criminality" bore not even an iota of relevance to the theme of Indian entrepreneurship. I wondered what was her covert agenda. Imagine my utter amazement and puzzle that a reputable attorney/court prosecutor/ law lecturer/ Independent Senator could have seen it fit to inflict on the audience faulty irrelevance and misleading generalisations with respect to the alleged criminal character of Indian womanhood. Is the Senator telegraphing that the criminality that she mistakenly and suddenly discovered in Indian womanhood is a manifestation of the enterprise/risk taking spirit endemic among Indian women?

Although Senator Seetahal admitted that her study suffered from and lacked credibility from the lack use of the appropriate research methodology that would have contributed to scientific reliability of her work yet she saw it fit to present the paper fully aware of the range of misleading conclusions and insinuations.

Independent Senator Seetahal is clearly unschooled in the bigger subject of the frustration- intra- specific aggression hypothesis that is fundamental to an understanding of the complexities and dynamics of the Indo- T&T personality. Out of respect for us, her predominantly captive Indo- audience, she ought to have subjected her thesis of the alleged criminality of Indian women to the test of the concept of intra-specific aggression of which the high suicide (self-aggression) among Indians rate is a clear manifestation. This would have pre-empted her from over-indulging in imputing and deriving negative behavioral patterns and ethnic stereotyping about Indian women criminality from limited, dry, misleading, unrepresentative crime/court statistics.

Contemporary Indian womanhood has somewhat increasingly renounced the suicide option (self- aggression) as the natural flight response to the stressors of rampant male alcoholism, domestic violence, and marital infidelity and may have now chosen the fight response (crimes of passion).

Senator Seetahal may not understand the concept of marriage persistence (commitment) practiced by Indian women, their dependency ( unemployability), the extended family culture all of which are certain to intensify the level of violence and frustration and which, from an ethnic criminality/behavioral perspective, cannot and should not be flippantly compared with other ethnic groupings in the society because the findings will lack credibility. The learned attorney should have also presented us with a sociological component in her paper/study using statistics relating to suicides, divorce rate and the prevalence or non-prevalence of single parent (mother) families within the Indian community to better appreciate the Indian mother’s predicament.

Before making misleading conclusions on the predilection of Indian women to criminality based on inadequate data, Independent Senator Seetahal should have done justice to her Presidential appointment and researched the inhumane, uncaring lack of social services/counseling almost non-existent in rural communities as well as little or no access to employment in CEPEP/URP or cheap NHA Housing. The consequence is that many Indian mothers are embedded in violence-frustration –prone/ no alternative marriages and left to fend for themselves in a sea of neglect and indifference.

I tried in vain to convey in person some of the above to Senator Seetahal in the post-session break but she seemed to harbour an uncontrollable aversion to treating with a Dhal belly Indian who had no intention of "wining up on she."

Would learned Senator Seetahal now make similar racial/ethnic stereotyping on the kidnapping menace.

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