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Letter to Editor: Rowley shouldn’t apologise for sensible approach to domestic violence

“Regrettably, I have observed recently that certain organisations established with the objective of empowering and protecting women have perhaps, unwittingly, been promoting—by implication—recklessness, given their lack of support for the Prime Minister’s call for personal responsibility as one of the obvious measures in the protection of women.

“These organisations ought to focus some attention on what preventive measures women should take to avoid relationships with violent men, similar to the guidance we, routinely, provide to our children in their dealings with strangers.”

The following Letter to the Editor, which supports Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s view that victims of domestic abuse should take some responsibility for their choice of partner, was submitted to Wired868 by Louis Winston Williams:

Photo: A female victim of domestic abuse.
Photo: A female victim of domestic abuse.

I agree with the Prime Minister that women have a personal responsibility to choose their partners more wisely. That is not victim blaming/shaming or an abdication of the responsibility of men, the police service or the Government. It is common sense.

Prevention is better than cure. Do you go to sleep at night and recklessly leave your front door open?

Some situations are avoidable, others are not. However, we must not make ourselves an easy target.

Long ago when a woman saw a man she liked, she and/or her friends and relations would do a background check on him, before getting into a committed relationship. For example, among other things, she would seek information on whether or not he had a history of violence in his past, inclusive of his relationships with women.  Trinidad and Tobago’s small size is a distinct advantage.

We are good ‘macos’. Most persons either know each other, or have friends/relations who can access information on persons with whom we interact.

Sadly, as a developing country, at times, we are unduly influenced by the ‘psycho-babble’ of the ‘North’ and, mindlessly, throw the baby out with the bath water.

Photo: Protests against Port of Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee in Woodford Square.
Photo: Protests against Port of Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee in Woodford Square.

Unfortunately, even in the good old days, some women who failed to do the background checks lived to regret that decision.

Regrettably, I have observed recently that certain organisations established with the objective of empowering and protecting women have perhaps, unwittingly, been promoting—by implication—recklessness, given their lack of support for the Prime Minister’s call for personal responsibility as one of the obvious measures in the protection of women.

These organisations ought to focus some attention on what preventive measures women should take to avoid relationships with violent men, similar to the guidance we, routinely, provide to our children in their dealings with strangers.

Like all other crimes/social ills , domestic violence has to be fought on many fronts—legislation, law enforcement, counselling, education and awareness, etc. However, like all other crimes/social ills, we must accept our personal responsibility to protect ourselves as far as is practicable. Recklessness, is not an option.

The Prime Minister has given sound advice. No woman should ignore what he has said. He has nothing to apologise for.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley gestures to supporters at Balisier House after the election results on September 7. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley gestures to supporters at Balisier House after the election results on September 7.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

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82 comments

  1. Why the hell should he apologize for choose wisely some women choose men by sight, we know there are some men will be angels at first and after they show you their true colors, however, that’s why you have to get to know a person for a long while. but people will call this old time thinking now we living in the new age. 15 year old have man and going out at that hour don’t blame the parents blame the PM Rowley.

  2. I ain’t about to try and defend the PM. But some of the reaction has been so utterly disingenuous. People are acting as if some of these women don’t willingly hook up with known lowlifes. It is these women that I think the comments were directed at in particular.

    I distinctly remember Bunji had a song many years ago with the chorus “The gyal say she want a badman”. That is a reality. What do such women expect from hooking up with a “bad man”? Not “bad man” treatment?

    Those who insist on characterising the statement of “victim-blaming” are in essence making a judgement about the *intent* behind the statement. However, I’m sure if the PM were asked directly if he believed that the women victims in domestic abuse situations are to be “blamed”, he might laugh out of incredulity at being asked such a clearly outlandish thing. No one believes that the women are *entirely* to blame. That’s ridiculous. Hence, the characterisation of it as “victim-blaming” is disingenuous at best.

  3. OK let me try to help. Clearly Rowley was answering his own question. “What is the role of the state in preventing domestic related murders/issues”? If you read the transcript carefully you will realize that the context is a discussion was taking place on crime and murders in particular. Rowley then went on to ask the question himself. This is for anyone who needs to have a question to be able to analyze a statement.😉

  4. Go check on youtube or somewhere and find it if you want to know Kwesi.

  5. Transcript of Keith Rowley statement: “Approximately one third of the murders in the last month have been domestic related issues. Now, what is the role of the police in preventing that? or should I say the State? You know what the State did? These domestic issues usually start, or ending, with women in difficulty in relationships and the state intervene and puts something called protection order in place to deal with women and their men, that and all is creating a basis for violent crime. One third of the murders in recent times are domestic violence or domestic issues, and then you call on the Prime Minister to do something about crime. I am not in your bedroom, I’m not in your choice of men. (applause from the audience). You have a responsibility to determine who you associate with, and know when to get out, and the state will try to help, but then, when the tragedy occurs, and it becomes the police, the police must now go the extra mile to ensure there is detection, because in the absence of proper detection those who would ordinarily have been law abiding have an incentive to become law breakers.”

  6. Transcript: “Approximately one third of the murders in the last month have been domestic related issues. Now, what is the role of the police in preventing that? or should I say the State? You know what the State did? These domestic issues usually start, or ending, with women in difficulty in relationships and the state intervene and puts something called protection order in place to deal with women and their men, that and all is creating a basis for violent crime. One third of the murders in recent times are domestic violence or domestic issues, and then you call on the Prime Minister to do something about crime. I am not in your bedroom, I’m not in your choice of men. (applause from the audience). You have a responsibility to determine who you associate with, and know when to get out, and the state will try to help, but then, when the tragedy occurs, and it becomes the police, the police must now go the extra mile to ensure there is detection, because in the absence of proper detection those who would ordinarily have been law abiding have an incentive to become law breakers.”

  7. I just want to share an experience I had yesterday. I worked late. I got into a taxi and after getting out at my destination I had a 10 minutes walk to my home. It was getting dark at 6.30pm. On occasions like this, I would usually look over my shoulder during the walk towards home. Yesterday was no different except I observed a man walking slowly behind me. My instincts immediately kicked in with a danger warning. I slowed down to give him an opportunity to pass me.. but he slowed down too, his intention was to keep me ahead of him.. My intention was to allow him to pass me so I could keep my eye on him.. I then decided to cross the road.. he crossed the road too but by now he realized I was on to him. I panicked when I saw him trying to conceal something in his right hand, it looked like a small knife, but was able to regain calmness when I saw another individual heading in the same direction as me. I asked for help.. I was escorted to a point where I felt a bit safe and I was able to get home safely. The man behind me stopped following me at that point. The point I am making is this: If I was not vigilant enough and concerned for my own safety, I would have been a casualty. My safety was my responsibility. We women must do all we can to protect ourselves, whether from domestic violence or other crime, the onus is on us to do what must be done.

    • That’s very good. But if the guy had suddenly ran to you and grabbed you, then you would have been powerless.
      So be vigilant. But never think that alone would keep you safe.

    • So happy that this situation turned out as it did. If it were ever to happen again, please don’t slow down. Having said that, it still would not have been your fault had god forbid this situation went another way. We must be vigilant, but we must also hold the right people accountable, including the state, for keeping our citizens safer.

    • This analogy in no way beefs up the prime minister’s statement and I hope you can understand that.

    • but Lasana, in the context of the discussion, the PM’s statement was not to suggest that the only person who has responsibility is the woman.

      It’s like I posted earlier – does Black Lives Matter mean “black lives matter ONLY” or “black lives matter TOO”?

      In the context of the discussion, where the PM and the MoNS went to great lengths talking about what the system can do, and how participation from the public is necessary for effective crime detection, I understood the PM’s statement to be an exhortation that any self defence pratcitioner would advise: “be aware of your situation, and take steps to protect yourself”

      because ultimately, avoidance is better than having to detect.

    • Kwesi:
      “One third of the murders in recent times are domestic violence or domestic issues. And then that, you call on your prime minister to do something about crime… I am not in your bedroom, I am not in your choice of men.” Dr Keith Rowley

    • The suggestion is that domestic issues matter less or cannot be helped by external forces. It is almost the mortal equivalent of an act of God–once the woman picks wrong then what can I do as prime minister?

    • what was the question he was responding to Lasana?

      and why ws that question asked despite earlier in the conversation there was discussion of ocial services, and court orders.

      you can’t look at the quote without looking at the question asked.

      It;s like a legal opinion, depending on the question asked, you will get a different opinion from the same lawyer on the same situation. context is everything.

    • Kwesi Prescod the topic he was speaking on was crime and the murders taking place. He then brought up that 1/3 of these cases were domestic violence related and well wha we really want him to do bout dat. Ladies choose better men.

    • what was the specific question asked? because I know that before the statement was made there was a laying out of avenues for social service intervention leading up to court orders. so what was specifically asked?

    • What question would make his response alright? Why not make one up Kwesi?

    • I can make up stupid questions all day. LEt’s see the question that was actually asked.

    • The stupid responses business is locked down I’m afraid. Lol

    • Fayola Bostic I agree with you.. I must also say there were no police officers in sight on this particular day

    • Who else did Rowley talk about and give responsibility to besides women though? Who was he focused on?

  8. And if you say people need to be alert when on the roads and be responsible and pay attention to what is happening around them. That would be the truth too.
    If you say it at the funeral of a boy who was knocked down while standing waiting for a taxi, then “inappropriate” would be the nicest thing anyone calls you.
    No worries Matthew.

  9. He isn’t my favourite fish in the pond but what was said I think the nation needed to hear because it is the truth how ever bad it sounds

  10. Do you need the Prime Minister to tell you to look both ways before crossing the street too? I think you just don’t see my point Matthew Jaggasar. And the ill-will to the PM’s statement is the context of it and what it says about his own personal view.
    You are looking at this without context. But people can have different opinions on stuff and that is fine too. No worries man.

  11. Again as an adult I accept the fact that I need to take responsibility for my actions. Yes the govt has a responsibility to me but I can’t expect them to do everything.. If as an adult Mr Lasana Liburd you take offence from a prime minister telling you to take responsibility for your actions then sadly I have to you are not the man I thought you to be. Why can’t we just forget about politicising everything and just look at it from a True stand point… I’m sorry but Mr Rowley isn’t responsible for the woman I end up with for how my kids would be raised for how I carry about myself THAT WOULD BE ALL ON ME ………………..

  12. So you as an adult need the Prime Minister to tell you to choose your partner wisely Matthew Jaggasar? It is just a cynical deflection from the government’s failure to curb crime which some people have swallowed hook, line and sinker.
    So the response to the current murder rate is for women to get better quality boyfriends? That is almost laughable yes.

    • Y’all just playing smart with foolishness. My 9 yr old sister could read what he said ( the entire conversation not just the part you the press put out) and understand that no way did he blame the crime situation on women choosing bad partners… Comn let’s be real.

    • Rowley was in a forum that wanted dating tips with no link whatsoever to crime I suppose. No problem. There is enough info out there for people to come to a rational conclusion. And we are allowed to differ.
      So we can respectfully disagree.

  13. For far to long we have been hiding behind the veil of “what sounds good for the people” this has been to our detriment in my view… In all aspects of life we would settle for less than the truth because it doesn’t offend Indians or africans or Chinese or who ever…… But at the end the day the truth will always be the truth… So whether it was ill timed ill advised ill delivered what ever ill you want to call it, it is the THE TRUTH..not only women but men as well we need to stop playing and take responsibility for each choice we make and know that there are repercussions for that choice… It starts with Me and you. After that when we do what we can to ensure we are good then you would look outside for another level…..

  14. The issue is not with his ‘advice’ per se but, with the timing as well as, with his generalization of the situations that have been popping up day after day! Crimes against women and young girls – every.single.day – that are not being addressed with the seriousness and urgency that it should be. We are women looking to our PM for compassion and for action NOT for ridicule and condescending ‘Lord-above’all-I-know-better-BS’. We want assurance that our children, sisters, mothers can go out without being scared that we will get a call that they are missing, abused or attacked. We want confirmation that ANY crime against women and children will be swiftly dealt with – that these men will get the message that our PM is on OUR side and not the criminals. We want solutions and action not carelessly flung-out comments that serves no purpose.

  15. They need to check their self n stop the blame game dont sleep with a drug dealer and want him to change to be a pastor nope check urself

  16. What about crime besides domestic violence Mr. Rowley, what is you plan on this?

  17. Mothers start teaching your sons to respect women starting with you.

  18. Some of them Women know thats the raw truth the PM talking about. They just can’t handle the truth. A set of Monsters some Women allow in their lives. They accepting S***t and know in their minds that the Man have potential to Hit etc. Plus some of them only choose Men by Sight not by Faith.

    • It is unfortunate that Domestic Violence and Gender BASED Violence discussions tend toward adult men and adult women and vice versa … when truth be told it is an interaction issue between the genders … thus a real solution would ideally be borne from the varied dysfunctional interactions seen and unseen .. one must admit the interaction within a ‘free-choice’ romantic relationship is linked very earlier to the decision to accept and or pursue a relationship with a man or woman .. how then could it not be helpful to suggest to women to choose wisely … let’s focus on what really matters —

    • Karry that’s an interesting though. How would that be helped? Govt encouraging relationship counselors at community level?
      My first instinct is to see this as a criminal matter. But you could be on to something.

    • I recently heard a BBC programme that discussed a pilot project where the police and social welfare groups worked together to identify abusers who were then approached by the Police to participate in courses to teach them how to manage their behaviour and emotions. The early results are very promising. We should be looking into collaborative exercises like this. That coupled with support for the victims to rebuild their lives would go a long way to addressing the problem.

    • Makes too much sense. So won’t happen! Hahaha. Seriously though, the Govt can help be maybe putting counsellors in health facilities and making them available through aldermen and so on.

    • Lasana Liburd…the facilities and programmes exist…and are undersubscribed by the people it targets.

      A woman actually got up on the night and chastised the government and police for not knowing (intrinsically) who did what crimes because they know who did it, so obviously the gauvament knows.

      Without getting into the distinction of information vs. evidence, once you appreciate the lack of personal responsibility inherent in Trinis, there’s no wonder the society is where it is.

    • It is the police’s job to get the evidence. As for the social programmes, how well are they advertised? Seems politicians only do media blasts when they are defending themselves.
      But you’re talking about a cultural shift there too, so it won’t happen quickly. You have to be patient and keep letting people know it is there and what the benefits are.
      Nobody wants to risk hearing that they have to change.

    • There is an anger management programme in prisons headed by uwi researchers. Maybe there could be more of that before people land in jail. But we so busy focused on what women doing, wearing and with whom that we can’t spare a little attention for the men.

    • “It is the police’s job to get the evidence”
      I agree. but even with forensic sciences, witnesses and tip offs are essential. That the people don’t see the need to assist reinforces why detection is so low.

      ” As for the social programmes, how well are they advertised?”
      Go to the points of presence in the communities. The billboards are everywhere. The ads are everywhere on TV. They are advertised.

      culture change? we don’t want that.

    • “But we so busy focused on what women doing, wearing and with whom”

      funny I thought the point of the statement that has us so angry is that the PM is NOT focused on these things, and suggesting that people manage their own affairs.

    • By saying women choose their men better and not “people manage their own affairs” the focus is on women.

    • He could just as likely have said men get allyuh issues under control and stop this violence. But he didn’t so…

    • For starters, Rowley’s statement was a generalisation. Start bad. Second, it came right after a woman had her throat slit [allegedly by an ex]–and with no information to suggest reckless behaviour by the victim. So it was insensitive.
      Third, what is he basing his presumed knowledge of domestic violence? He has a counselling badge? He has any statistical data to back up anything he said? Or he just thinks that he is a man and automatically an expert?
      Imagine a hit and run case and Rowley says: People have to take responsibility for their own road safety.
      What he says might be true. But the context might be appalling. The people hit might have been on the side of the road waiting for a taxi, for instance.
      I just think you have to blind yourself to too many things to try and defend Rowley. And I just don’t like dumbing down myself for anyone’s benefit.

    • And there is plenty information as to why people are afraid to give police information on crime. You are never going to solve the problem by simply blaming the public when so many witnesses were compromised and/or killed after stepping forward.

    • How many times Rowley stepped forward about corruption? Okay, we have the Calder Hart issue. So in three decades or so of public life, that is all he saw?
      Talk about double standards. Blame the people for not risking their lives and yet we don’t see politicians stepping forward to be whistle blowers or starting real action against wrongdoing.

    • Not that I like to slam people who take the time to share opinion pieces with Wired868! Lol. I just disagree with Louis on this one.

  19. who here like Machel’s new tune “Your Time Now”?

    who here dance and sing and fete and endorse the misogynistic message within?

    We project Machel as the best of us.

    …and we wonder why this is a misogynitic society?

    • I pointed this out recently and was told that i was taking the lyrics out of context.
      That if content is changed soca will be boring
      Is not machel responsibility to sing different lyrics.

      I just sighed.

  20. Rowley was patronizing at best, disrespectful at second-best and scapegoating at worse. To believe that grown women need dating tips from the Prime Minister is an insult and, for me, shows a flawed understanding of what victims of domestic abuse really face.

  21. Plain talk bad manners PM don’t apologise. Some of us women put more time in buying a dress or a pair of shoes than checking out a man’s background

  22. “Prevention is better than cure. Do you go to sleep at night and recklessly leave your front door open?” No. But I ought to be able to.

  23. “Unfortunately, even in the good old days, some women who failed to do the background checks lived to regret that decision.” What kinda nonsense is this?

  24. The letter writer talking shit, too much double standards in our society. They fire TimKee for saying less than that but the prime minister talk he assness an some people find he’s right. Politics in this country is what fucking we up

  25. Dr. Rowley’s response should have highlighted the implementation of proven processes/procedures/solutions that would assure the safety of all citizens regardless of our errors in judgment regarding our choices of significant others! Rowley’s comment is what parents customarily tell their children so he offered NOTHING! He needed to assume a higher ground that assures national safety for all, understanding that we all make mistakes (he included). His response was weak, dismissive, crass, lack empathy, lacked sensitivity, and displayed that he, his National security minister, and the acting police commissioner have no clue as how to solve the out of control crime situation. If he does not implement positive change, he will have an extremely difficult time winning the next general election. By the way, Kamla is no better than he.

  26. Undoubtedly, a multi-faceted approach is required to reduce and eventually eradicate domestic violence, for instance, boys and men need to be taught how to respect women, and how to manage their emotions and how to deal with conflict in a healthy way, a way which does not involve violence. However, at the heart of it, we also have to empower our girls and our women to make better decisions for themselves. This is not victim-shaming, this is highlighting a need which urgently must be addressed, further yet, it is rooted in empowering women. Think about. A woman who is able, at the start of any relationship, to identify certain behaviour traits as violent, or potentially abusive, and who has the strength, and self-confidence to end that relationship, is empowered in the best way. She can walk away, and not get caught up in an abusive relationship which may possibly end in her death. Prevention is always better than cure, and to empower someone to make better decisions is to give them agency to help themselves.

  27. Excellent take on the matter…

  28. it is so interesting to me. mansplaining and MANinstruction abounds, but someone please point me to one man, in any sphere, instructing his male counterparts on their proper and better behavior. in any sphere. from crime and violence, to how they engage women and children. to their responsibilities in a nation

    point me. show me.

    sigh
    what kind of man will put his mouth and hands in a woman’s group? to tell them how to manage and not. I am a woman and I not even doing that. if i go to do that , best I make my own women’s group. not so? that is somebody’s enclave. that is how this place works. so why they dont have the same privileges as all others???