Tuesday 29 September, 2020

PM criticised for 'victim blaming'

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley is coming under fire from some citizens and groups after comments he made regarding domestic-related crimes on Monday night.

Speaking during the first in a series national conversations Dr Keith Rowley and other Cabinet members at Maloney/Arouca amphitheatre, Dr Rowley said women should choose their partners more wisely.

His comments came after the shocking murder of Jamilia DeRevenaux on Sunday night at MovieTowne, Port of Spain, which was alleged to be the result of a domestic dispute. 

Dr Rowley acknowledged that approximately one-third of the murders committed in January were domestic-related issues and implied women shared the blame in their choice of partners.

“If a crime is to be committed, invariably, the police may not know it is to be committed and more often than not the police would only know after the crime has been committed.”

“These domestic issues usually start or end with women in difficulty in relationships and the State intervened and put something called protection order in place, to deal with women and their men. That and all is creating a basis for violent crime.”

“You called on the Prime Minister to do something about crime. I am not in your bedroom, I am not in your choice of men.”

“You have a responsibility to determine who you associate with and know when to get out and the State will try to help.”

He added that when “tragedy occurs and it becomes known to police, the police must now go the extra mile to ensure there is detection.”

“In the absence of detection, those who would ordinarily be law-abiding have an incentive to become law-breakers,” he said.

He said the high number of new cases means police officers often become overburdened by their assignments.

“You cannot assign a policeman to every household but what you can do is to make sure all the resources are available and they are making use of them," he said.

Dr Rowley also pinpointed rogue police officers and the need to clamp down on this.

“Like you, I too am watching with anger at some of the things I am seeing. I have not opened my mouth, and I dare not open my mouth, especially as Prime Minister. The last thing we want to do is demoralise the police service,” he said.

However, feminist advocacy group Womantra has criticised his statements as victim-blaming and says this mentality must stop.

"The day after Jamilia DeRevenaux's violent murder at Movie Towne that shocked the nation, our Prime Minister in his first 'national conversation' on crime, responded to questions on the state response to domestic violence by saying, "I'm not in your bedroom, I'm not in your choice of men".

"Dr Keith Rowley, when we called for the resignation of former POS Mayor Raymond Tim Kee, this nation sent a clear message that blaming women for attacks on their person was unacceptable, especially when this dangerous practice of victim blaming is perpetuated by holders of public office whose responsibility it is to protect the interests of citizens, including women and girls."

"Women are not killed because they have bad choice in men. Women are killed because their lives are not valued as much as male aggression and the ownership of female bodies."

"We hope that you take responsibility for the damage you have caused to the integrity of your Office (where the Gender Unit resides) and offer the women of this country an apology for your terrible lack of judgement and faulty reasoning that is steeped in a culture of misogyny that blames women."

"We are watching closely and await your response."

On February 1, the body of Nadia Simms was found in a shallow grave in Santa Flora. A man has since been charged with her murder. 

Meanwhile, citizens are still calling for justice for Rachel Ramkissoon, who was murdered on January 13, 2017

In a separate incident, a Tobago woman was beaten and raped by someone she formerly had a relationship with. 


See also: 

Murdered woman in MovieTowne related to Blaxx; Roy Cape band in mourning

Man in court for Nadia Simms' murder

Murdered schoolgirl laid to rest, family vows "no forgiveness" for her killer

Teachers suspended as 19 sex abuse cases probed,

Man in custody after being found with minor


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