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Murder at MovieTowne: Why two T&T Prime Ministers got their responses very wrong

The recent murder in MovieTowne is the second to take place at that location. It has had several reverberations, which are as great as those that accompanied the first one, fourteen years ago.

On both occasions our Prime Ministers made insensitive remarks in the aftermath of the murder.

On the first occasion, the late Patrick Manning dismissed the murder by his notorious remark that the woman killed was “collateral damage.”

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning attends a news conference at the venue of the Commonwealth Summit in Port-of-Spain on 26 November 2009. (Copyright REUTERS/Jorge Silva)
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning attends a news conference at the venue of the Commonwealth Summit in Port-of-Spain on 26 November 2009.
(Copyright REUTERS/Jorge Silva)

At that time, in a column published on 15 June 2003, I protested this and the foolishness of the belief that gang related murders did not directly threaten the average citizen.

Much of what I wrote then can be applied to this second MovieTowne murder. The column also foretold how our indifference to murder would undermine peace and good order in our country and I posed some considerations to Mr Derek Chin, the affable owner of MovieTowne.

Fourteen years later, it can now be plainly seen that, as predicted, we have descended into a state of bloody barbarism but on this occasion an additional issue has taken centre stage. That issue is the blaming of female victims of violence for the beatings and ultimately the murder of many of them.

There is a huge perspective change required from Caribbean men and influencing that change should be at the forefront, a coherent social development policy, if we had one.

Regarding the gender bias and oppression and the backlash against the current Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley’s remarks about women’s choices of men, this is best put in perspective by turning to someone far more qualified than I am to assist readers to understand the problem.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Keith Look Loy (second from left) and Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro (right) dance to calypso after a meeting at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on 5 December 2016. (Copyright AFP 2017/Federico Parra)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley (second from left) and Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro (right) dance to calypso music after a meeting at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas on 5 December 2016.
(Copyright AFP 2017/Federico Parra)

The acclaimed Jamaican born novelist Nicole Dennis Benn described the oppression last year in a piece in the New York times entitled “A Woman-Child in Jamaica.”

She describes how she became public property, something to be shared by men, as soon as she reached puberty:

“But I would soon realise that my (school) uniform could not protect me.  This I learned one day as the sun bore down, hot and heavy, in the Half Way Tree area of Kingston. A man reached out and touched my buttocks when I walked by him in my school uniform. I sprang away too late, the touch lingering as long as the drought that year.

“On my walks home from school I would get catcalls from men on the street, men in buses, or men sitting in cars groping themselves—grown men old enough to be my father, who by then was living in America.

“When I’d pull away from strangers or say out loud, do not touch me! they would curse me and the people I came from, their jeers following me all the way down the sidewalk.

“In a remote corner of my mind, I knew that my body was public property—no longer mine. I knew this from the crudeness of that first man’s touch—the firm, possessive grasp. I knew this from our dance hall lyrics—songs that tell our girls that something is wrong with them if they cannot perform in bed or if they resist the pain of rough penetration.

Photo: A woman is treated to catcalls in New York. (Copyright NY Daily News)
Photo: A woman is treated to catcalls in New York.
(Copyright NY Daily News)

“The looming sense that my body was not my own was a rite of passage that made me one with the fears of my mother and grandmother; Lady Saw’s rage; and the silent hums of other Jamaican women.

“I felt betrayed by my body because it dared to bloom under the eyes of predators that waited outside the schoolyard and in my community.”

“We often end up blaming ourselves. We swallow our guilt in the same way we swallow our truths, failing to realise that our silence, like our mothers and grandmothers and the law, cannot protect us.”

I make no apologies for the length of the quotation. Every word of it should be studied as an expression of a lifestyle from which we must turn away.

As to what I wrote at the time of the first MovieTowne murder: “When the blood of the assassination near to the useless guard booth had dried, Mr Chin was reportedly calling on all associations and citizens of our country to put pressure on the Government to take control of the crime situation.”

He was quoted as saying: “This is a situation which we are concerned about and I think we need to put a lot of pressure to do something about it now because enough is enough.”

Photo: An image of MovieTowne in Port of Spain.
Photo: An image of MovieTowne in Port of Spain.

I assume that Mr Chin will be in the forefront of those putting the pressure and that he will now leave the comfortable fold of silent businessmen who devote their political attentions only to cozying up to the party in power.

Please tell the silent businessmen to come out like you have done. However, tell them not to wait to come out only when there is blood in their own backyard.

Is it too late, too late for that cry?

About Martin Daly

Martin Daly
Martin G Daly SC is a prominent attorney-at-law. He is a former Independent Senator and past president of the Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago. He is chairman of the Pat Bishop Foundation, a board member of The Little Carib Theatre and Folkhouse and a steelpan music enthusiast.

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21 comments

  1. Why the hell the women in this country don’t get up off their asses and march by the thousands in protest. Even little Bucco in Tobago did. We just fulla shit. All talk and no action.

  2. I was tempted not to read it. But glad I did. Especially the last part. We are afraid of the blood in the streets, but quite comfortable with the ink on ill gotten cheques and stashed currency in countries whose names are tongue twisters. A society of do once I doh see or if affect my family. We’ll continue to blame politicians and neglect the cancer that is ravishing every aspect of the society. All lives matter in Trinidad and Tobago as far as I am concerned. Together we aspire, divided we bleed.

  3. “I make no apologies for the length of the quotation. Every word of it should be studied as an expression of a lifestyle from which we must turn away.” … “I assume that Mr Chin will be in the forefront of those putting the pressure and that he will now leave the comfortable fold of silent businessmen who devote their political attentions only to cozying up to the party in power”

  4. without even reading the article..this is a clear cut case of ulterior motives..why refer to an incident that happens just over a week ago yet use a picture of the PM at an official function in a celebratory mode that took places months ago..an we wonder why there are trust issues with the media

  5. CRIME DETECTION IS WATER IN BASKET IN THIS COUNTRY…

  6. What about Mrs Rowley’s choice?

    • Given this man’s utterances since around the time of holding office, one has to wonder. She seems like a dignified lady. Why embarrass her and his adult daughters by making all of these statements that make people question not just his judgment but his character? One wonders whether he has any respect at all for women. And the icing is the defence by the women’s group. If the statement were made in isolation about choices, there would not have been such a big outcry. It could have been taken at face value as advice. But that additional statement took it into the realm of picong-making light of what clearly is a sensitive topic to the nation at this time.
      One truly has to wonder if there is a medical issue causing so much foot in mouth disease-and I say this in all seriousness.

  7. Do you think that any level of security would have prevented the murder at MovieTowne?

  8. Please leave dead men sleeping. This piece is abhorrent. Well as the ole school rhyme goes….” sing for your supper… “

  9. Seems the businessmen are more concerned about the effects of Facta than they are about providing a safe shopping environment for their daily patrons. Was there a statement from Doma on the murder in POS? Was there a sustained call that enough was enough? Where is the statement from the Chamber of Commerce?

  10. den gul like men with the pants down to their knees

  11. Am wondering where did the gender bias came from if the chosen is the men and he is advising the female, Boi even big attorneys talking rubbish.