Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 8th 2018 Contents A14
Monday, January 8, 2018
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The Prime Minister’s address to the nation last night was
exactly the kind of New Year’s resolution one makes this
time of year. A pledge to save more, spend less, cut fat, fix
things that are broken, and get things right.
It was the kind of homily that encourages you to keep
hope alive, rekindle faith in mankind in general and find the
confidence and courage to believe that the war against “ca-
reer violent criminals” can be won.
To back up this call to hope and action, Dr Rowley last
night confidently declared that “we must, and we will, win
this war on crime.”
But if like most New Year’s resolutions, good intentions
and plans are forgotten within a month, this country is fac-
ing a bleak future. At some point during this year we will
determine how much the Petrotrin “fake oil” fiasco will cost
tax payers and by the time the year comes to a close, we’d
be able to tell if Dr Rowley’s promise to “identify white collar
criminals, track and hold them to account” has been kept.
His promise to win the war on crime, will be self-evident.
The report to the nation last night seemed reminiscent of
a “State of the Union” address in the United States, punctu-
ated by justifications and explanations of fiscal measure chal-
lenges and failures. It is our hope that, one year from today,
many of the promises and pledges made last night, would
be kept. Our leaders do rather well with making promises.
Keeping them, seems to be the challenge.
Wearing black...and blue
The call to wear black this week to acknowledge the dis-
concerting trend of violence against women—a move led
by NGO “Is There Not a Cause” (ITNAC)—is but a single,
noteworthy step. Steps like these have been taken before-
newsprint roses dipped in blood red paint handed out to
parliamentarians, temporary boycotts of business places
where crimes against women have been committed, con-
certs and social media shame-campaigns against abusers.
Wearing black to demonstrate we will not forget the blood
that has been spilled, reminds us of the wives, daughters,
mothers and sisters, who are brutalised every day.
But what comes after wearing black? What next for the
woman who faces verbal, emotional or physical abuse every
day? Make-up and medicine can only mask so much. Are
there enough resources, support systems or mechanisms for
women to maintain a sense of self-worth after being brutally
shamed by partners?
Some victims of violence actually have perfect lives on
paper. In pictures, there are smiles and perfection is pro-
jected, but the mental and physical scars left from objects
thrown, chairs broken, shouting and shoving...are seldom
seen. We must do more to stop the blood spilled every year.
Gender and competence
The consideration of Justice Paula-Mae Weekes is welcome
news, as it appears to come with the blessings of the powers
that be on both sides of the political divide.
The possibility that this country’s 6th President could be a
competent, respected, female jurist, is not just about gender,
it is about the fact that she is widely respected, well accom-
plished, and a force to be reckoned with. This is something
to be proud of.
The PM’s New Year’s wish
to 21st-century parenting, and
away from the plantation author-
ity and whipping that we were
bequeathed by the people who
raised us with the tools they had,
tools as rusty and ill-suited now as
a typewriter or mimeograph.
Tools of violence and abuse
Fitzy’s colleagues Jenny and
Nicole have wrapped in such nos-
talgia on the chamber’s floor.
with the family forms we have in
the Caribbean, which less and
less include capable adults out-
side the wage economy; and our
service economy where mothers
work low-wage night shifts—also
demands having safe, quality
childcare that is affordable and
round-the-clock, an area where
state and corporate leadership
are desperately needed.
In columns over the coming
months, I’ll return to and think
through my dangerous-driving
Next on it is What Schools Do.
How we build human rights into
the fibre of the nation. Environ-
mental sustainability. Police in-
and political financing. Social in-
surance. Policy think-tanks and
boys we’ve raised; not girls.
Not just the subset police cate-
gorise as domestic. As for those,
just as we say that it’s men who
are responsible for preventing
sexual assault, and not women
who ought to be more modest; it
isn’t women and their choice in
men that prevent gender-based
killings. Women who leave rela-
tionships are precisely the ones
Perhaps we need to move men
and boys more to the centre of
our policy solutions to domestic
It’s hard to listen to the leader
of the noisiest men’s rights organ-
isation, when woman get killed
and he talks about men’s needs.
But if he’s screaming that men
need help, perhaps we ought to.
lus boys miss all the good
stuff: learning self-care
and independent living
skills; to practise mind-
fulness and nurturance towards
others; to influence and ask for
help; clues what to do with deep
feelings, with intimacy, with vul-
nerability, with pain; to enjoy
life without winning. The road to
gender justice is a journey to raise
different kinds of men.
Girls need better parenting, too,
part of a national transformation
’d met the member just
once, at a church panel that
had made news, where he’d
disagreed with the hosting
pastor, insisting he would
shame and coerce his child
away from homosexuality. As our
shaking hands touched, I instantly
Already tapped to contest a safe
seat, it was a matter of months, I
knew, before he was a Cabinet
minister, when he strode into the
St Vincent Street copyshop where
I was scrambling to salvage repro-
duction of my mother’s memorial
He placed his order, and ad-
dressed me by name. That was
my name, my surprised pause
prompted him to ask.
What did I think were the core
issues facing the nation?
(Was he just asking everyone
he could? Or was he singling me
out?) I stumbled to give the right
answer. And nothing useful came
It’s a new year, the third since,
and as many Cabinet portfolios for
him. But, after a few moments of
dangerous driving, writing down
my urgent rush of inspiration (the
old-fashioned way), I finally have
an answer for Fitzy.
Parenting boys—It’s hard to
think how we could be doing a
worse job. At anything. Caribbean
men are miserable in masculini-
ty’s straitjacket. Masculinity offers
so much privilege, yet it is leaving
poor men behind, with only the
power of their fists and guns.
The Prime Minister under-
stands something, every time he
blames parenting following a par-
ticularly gruesome crime.
He misses one thing, though: all
but a handful in the surge of vio-
lent crimes that have transformed
the nation’s mental health and
political stakes have one thing in
common: they’re committed by
FISHING FUN: Bradley Maharaj attempts to reel in a fish at Tembladora car park Chaguaramas yesterday while his little
brother Bryan looks on.
PICTURE AYANNA KINSALE
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