Mary Elizabeth Chancellor, the wife of our seventh governor, Sir John, gave her name to the road we now call Chancellor Hill. Sir John was the one who assented to the Shouter Baptist Prohibition Ordinance because ‘a Shouter meeting would make the neighbourhood where it took place unfit for residential occupation’!
Does the event of last week now make that prestigious neighbourhood unfit? What does that situation say about us, as a nation?
In Parliament, MP Maxie Cuffie bemoaned his neighbourhood’s impotence in abating the noise from what he termed a ‘brothel’. He complained that they could not get the inhabitants to keep quiet. Ensconced in the exclusive neighbourhood, the guesthouse uses a sign to advertise room availability and rates. Are they trying to attract Chancellor Hill walkers? Or is the sign a ruse?
Our nation has a brazen open secret: tainted money buys property protected by the silence of upscale neighbourhoods, where the upstanding cringing citizens do not call 482-GARY but concentrate on manicuring their greenery. Money rules in our country and is disrespectful to the rest of us. The widening disparity is evident even in the choicest neighbourhoods and definitely on our crowded streets where chariots contemptuously push aside mere mortals.
From newspaper reports, the treatment here differed from the Arouca raid. There were no breathless interviews. The pictures then were intended to shame the pastor, but the pictures here did not shame the responsible men. Driving high-end vehicles appears to excuse you from being photographed while simultaneously inducing public respect.
The lesson for vulnerable women is that having sex, or the suspicion of so doing, entitles others to invade your privacy, making you worthy of public scrutiny. The press uncritically reported on their particulars but not an identifying word was said about the untouchable ‘businessmen’.
Men in high places, including parliament and boardrooms, can act with impunity, knowing well that their political and legal friends will protect them. Shaming and humiliation are guaranteed for women since they are still Eve—the reputed cause of man’s downfall.
Why do the police always leak unedited pictures of the women in these raids? Why are the women always lined up in their undressed state, but we never see the men in that condition? Different strokes for poor people, especially when they are women? Or it is immoral policing?
Was the 14-year-old minor wandering around the place like a lost child, or was she found in a compromising position with a man? The latter is likely given the known proclivities of men in similar circumstances. Yet no man is to appear before the courts for this.
Was the police commissioner acknowledging corruption when he had to keep the raid a secret from other police officers? Do different rules govern policing the rich versus the poor?
This episode shows that we, as a nation, have lost our collective voice to protect the poor and dispossessed. The same Venezuelans, for whom we agitated to get permits, are shrugged off. The church kept silent about the root cause of oppression of those seeking our care. It chose not to lead the conversation about this situation. This is not about whether or not we should legalise prostitution. This is about how we care for the least among us and, therefore, how we speak to powerful men.
We are an ‘equal-opportunity’ disrespectful people to all those who cannot help themselves or who cannot do better. Largely, we collectively shrugged at the cruelty. Others can disenfranchise those who are not ‘us’. They have no rights for which we should defend.
Sadly, this story of our nation was foretold in Gibbon’s 1776 magnificent book, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 4. We are rotting from the head down.
We choose not to share with each other on the journey to make the place a better one, but we take advantage of all who are weak and helpless.