Guyana NGO Help & Shelter Candle Light Vigil against Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a difficult issue for me to discuss. But, ever since Chris Brown cancelled his Guyana Christmas concert, originally programmed for Boxing Day, following protests from local women’s rights groups, the subject has been haunting me. According to the U.S. Human Rights Practices Report for 2007, one in every three Guyanese women is a victim of domestic violence. An article in the Kaieteur News, published in January 2012, puts the number at over two-thirds of Guyanese women. Violence against women contaminates all social and economic strata and ethnic groups of Guyanese society where men batter, rape, maim, and kill their female partners.
As a child growing up in Guyana, I was unaware that other children in school shared the same shame and fear that I experienced in living with a father who became violent when pumped up with alcohol. My parents fought constantly. It got worse when my mother learned to fight back. I was fifteen the day she grabbed her sewing scissors to defend herself. I intervened. The thought of losing my mother terrified me.
I decided at an early age to remain single. I decided, too, not to have children. I would not bring children into this world to suffer as I did. I eventually married a persistent suitor: a practicing Catholic like myself whose loving father had died when he was twelve. He never hit me. He abandoned me and our two sons in Brazil. His punishment was brutal.
I had not heard of the American R&B singer, Chris Brown, then nineteen, until he made US national news in 2009 for battering his then-girlfriend, Rihanna, an award-winning recording artist of Guyanese-Barbadian parents. As an idol for millions of young men in the US and worldwide, Chris Brown’s record of domestic violence makes him a potential contaminant for young Guyanese men who already have a propensity for violence against women.
Domestic violence and all forms of violence against women have consequences that last a life-time. It took years for me to learn to forgive my father. It will take another life-time for the wounds inflicted by my ex-husband to heal. Years after my father’s death, my mother still holds onto her hatred for him. “He robbed me of my youth,” she told me. Rancor has spoiled her goodness, driving us apart.
What can I say to the thousands of Guyanese men who batter the women in their lives? We live in challenging times. The survival of our nation and of our species depends upon co-operation between both men and women to find solutions that plague our nation and our planet. Be part of the solution and not the problem. Stand up and be counted.