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The Land of Lara and Murderous Husbands
Posted: Thursday, December 1, 2005

By Linda Edwards

Thank you for once again highlighting the plight of women victims of domestic violence. I continue to be amazed how angry we get about other types of crime, kidnappings, burglaries, drug busts, but treat the cases of domestic violence as if "SHE LOOK FOR THAT".

The idea that a woman provokes a man into violence found support in the mother-in-law of the murdered woman's explanation to the Guardian, published today. Neither the woman, now dead, nor the husband, a suicide, can now speak for themselves. All the more reason why the mother-in-law should not malign the woman in an attempt to justify what her son did.

Domestic violence, like violence in all aspects of human life, is escalating. More spouses are killed violently than ever before, or maybe, it is just exposed more.

Yet, no major forum in Trinidad and Tobago, other that the Minister of Women's Affairs and the Gender Affairs group at UWI, have made this issue their particular focus. It has remained a Women's Issue, and not the business of the Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club and the Jaycees. It is a symbol of our backwardness that at the crossroads of so many major cultures and religions, women are continually brutalized by spouses, as if it was no big thing. Does this not affect the "Business climate" as do other forms of crime?

Part of the reason, I believe, is the artificial constraints put on women's behaviour by a restrictive male dominated society. My sisters in Trinidad, and by that I mean all women, are not free. Those with jobs that are self supporting are not the majority in the society, and so, women trade themselves for shelter and material things. The man then feels that he owns the woman, and can trample on her human rights, and even kill her. What percentage of women in Trinidad earn enough to be self-supporting. Doctors and lawyers do not represent the women of the society. Too many of them are in low-paying jobs where they could be fired at will.

Education is the answer. Every school girl should leave secondary school with some saleable skill with which she can support herself. She should also be educated about contraception, for which she should take responsibility, so that she will not find herself pregnant for "Mr. Walk away from responsibility for his sexual behaviour." When a woman is not self supporting, society sets her up to be a victim. Women must free themselves from this yoke. They must provide, as it were, their own dowries.

Girl Scout groups, church youth groups and other community groups need to put domestic violence on their agenda, and strengthen young women's sense of self.

Only strong women would resist the subservience offered by men who wish to use us as possessions. Only strong women will walk away alive from domestic situations that go wrong. One of the things strong women will know is that man's nature never changes. If he hits you once, you are out of there. But where will you go with no job or low job, and mouths besides you to feed? That leads to death.

The nation should put the development of strong women at the top of its agenda, since restraining orders, and police protection produce lukewarm results, if any.

Part of the women's education courses at high schools and university must be frank discussions on the impact of educating women in a backward society.

Those Trini men who have been my close friends for more years than I want to admit, will forgive me for the comment on backwardness, while they would also admit that it is true.

We are the land of Soca Warriors, Brian Lara and Murderous Husbands. Fierce fighting belongs on the cricket pitch and the football field, not in the home.

Men and women need to know the difference.

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