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Rise in attacks against women worries activist

Monday, March 7, 2016

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day tomorrow, violent killings and attacks continue against women in T&T, the latest being Aamina Mohammed, 30, a geriatric nurse of Debe and Jennifer Rampersad, an accounts clerk from New Grant.

Mohammed, a mother of two, was supposed to be in the Magistrates’ Court in Princes Town today for a hearing in a domestic violence matter, but instead was found with her throat slit and her body thrown in bushes off Retrench Village Road, San Fernando last Friday. Her killing brought the murder count to 88 for the year to date.

On Saturday, 35-year-old Rampersad was discovered by her daughter suffering from chop wounds. She subsequently lost her left hand from the wrist and the right hand from her palm was almost severed. Investigators believe the attacker is someone she knew as there were no signs of forced entry.

The Police Service has reported that for the period 2005 to 2015 there were 263 murders resulting from domestic violence complaints, out of which 151 were female and 112 male. While it has not been reported that Mohammed’s killing was committed by a male relative or companion, activist Diana Mahabir-Wyatt said yesterday that this could very well be the natural assumption.

“One of the most common signs for women to be murdered is when they leave their husbands. Also interesting in this case was there was no sign of a battle. 

She (Mohammed) was lying on her back with her throat slit and she was fully dressed and had sliver bracelets so she wasn’t robbed. So nobody knows if she was just in a lonely place,” Mahabir-Wyatt said in a telephone interview.

But she also waded into comments made in a daily newspaper by T&T Vital Voices’ Nicole Joseph-Chin, who had said if women learn to appreciate themselves there would be less chance for them to be victims of abuse.

Joseph-Chin was at the time speaking to members of the media at the start of the second Vital Voices Global Mentoring Walk T&T, in commemoration of International Women’s Day at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain, on Saturday. She was quoted as saying, “... women’s bodies are actually the catalyst for issues that connect in terms of abuse”.

Mahabir-Wyatt disagreed with the comments, saying, “That is a dangerous statement. “She is connecting abuse with women’s bodies...and the reason why people get killed is because they have attractive bodies and if we appreciated ourselves more then we wouldn’t be abused.

“But I don’t think that after 40 years of dealing with domestic violence in T&T that I could possibly agree that it is just because women have attractive bodies that that causes domestic violence... that is not even barely realistic.” 

She likened Joseph-Chin’s comments to that of former Port-of-Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee, who had said that women had a responsibility to ensure they were not abused and needed to maintain a level of dignity during Carnival festivities.

Tim Kee had made the statement in response to the discovery of the body of Japanese national Asami Nagakiya, whose body was found under a tree at the Queen’s Park Savannah on Ash Wednesday. She was still dressed in her Carnival costume.

Saying domestic violence was caused by the perpetrator and not by the victim, Mahabir-Wyatt said whether the victim appreciated herself or not does not mean that she would not be abused. On whether there was enough effort by the police in the fight against domestic violence, Mahabir-Wyatt said this could never be enough.

“I don’t think the police could ever do enough to prevent domestic violence. 

“I don’t think it is the police that have to prevent domestic violence, although they should pay more attention when somebody has already reported domestic violence and has already obtained a protection order and what happens even if they have obtained the protection order. 

“This can enrage the perpetrator...they are not sane...they just go out of their heads, take revenge.

“In this case (Mohammed’s), if it was a revenge killing it quite possibly could have been,” Mahabir-Wyatt said.

The Network of NGOs for the Advancement of Women is expected to hold an exhibition at the Brian Lara Promenade and lead a walk through Port-of-Spain tomorrow, starting from 9 am, in celebration of International Women’s Day.