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Noble: What is the man’s responsibility for fear that stalks our women in public places?

How can our women become more careful when they do not know whether or not an approaching man would rape or kill her? She, by just being in the public, is at risk. Take for example, Juliet Tam, who in 1985, left her Arima home to exercise and just disappeared.

Do we remember Minerva Gaskin, 67 years old, last seen at the Licensing Office in 2009 but never seen again? Or Shannon Banfield, who in 2016, was murdered while shopping after work?

Photo: Murder victim, Shannon Banfield, one of the over 450 people killed in T&T in 2016, 12% of them women.

What should we say about 16 years old Rachel Ramkissoon, of Talparo, who rushed out to school in January 2017, got into a car only for her body to be found later in nearby bushes?

In August 2017, Leslie Ann Gonzales was killed while walking home from work. These women were going about life in public spaces, as they should be entitled to. They were not victims of spousal abuse neither did they die at their workplace.

For too long, as long as you are a woman you are a prey if you are alone in public. Why is this acceptable?

There are several uncontrollable risks for the individual woman: the brutish heart of man, the width of pavements as well as the availability of proper street lighting and public transport. A woman does not take a PH taxi because she ‘looking for dat’, the sad reality is that through the active or tacit encouragement of some government officials, she is put at risk.

Safety is more than just physical safety, it is the feeling of being safe—the ability to use our streets and parks, access to go to work and to the marketplaces without a sense of anxiety. Women should feel they have an equal right as men to be in the public.

Photo: Teenager Ashanti Riley was raped and murdered, after leaving her home to visit her grandmother on 29 November 2020.

Yet, the responsibility for avoiding danger rests with the woman. When she is attacked, the cry would be ‘she should have known better’. We look for clues as to why the perpetrator picked on her.

What was she wearing? Who she was going to meet? Her respectability and rights are fluid and conditional.

To avoid that, the woman must put on her ‘beast face’ and walk as quickly as is possible, or be able to call a friend who would answer at a moment’s notice when she is in public spaces. When will it be about the man’s responsibility?

We seldom chastise the men who make unwanted remarks that they consider flattering or flirtatious. But that action is not trivial, it is simply one end of a continuum that could end in rape or death.

The woman does not know which encounter will turn sour. But we want her to disregard her feelings of frustration about the constant heckling and yet expect her to fight off the would-be rapist.

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

How does she make that split second judgment when she is socialised to be nice to the men who offer platitudes that can turn to insults? How does she distinguish the ‘could-have-been-accidental’ nudges in public venues from sick behaviour?

It is time for us, as men, to own up to our responsibility to behave properly. We need to relearn and redefine masculinity.

About Noble Philip

Noble Philip
Noble Philip, a retired business executive, is trying to interpret Jesus’ relationships with the poor and rich among us. A Seeker, not a Saint.

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7 comments

  1. Instead of locking our doors, let’s teach burglars not to burgle.

  2. If a criminal can rob you for your money or your car then robbing a womans vagina is just another thing for them to do (they want money, cars and sex). They are violent and they will do whatever they want to do and that is the issue. It is time to get rid of our third world public transportation system that relies on taxis and maxis. A taxi is about 4metres long vs a small bus that is 12metres long, 3 taxis are the same length as the bus but only seat 13 passengers whilst the bus can hold probably 50. You ever heard of a London, New York etc. bus driver raping women?
    Even if he did he would never get away with it.
    3 men vs 1 woman, I am trying to imagine a friend coming to me and saying “let we rape that gyal there”, I would tell him where the f he can go with that, how can 3 monsters find eachother to do such things. Maybe because they have done other things together eg robberies, shooting etc., rape is just another thing for them. We need to bring back capital punishment and to expand it to include robbery, rape, kidnapping, trafficking and corruption in the police and gov. We may need to leave the privy council to do it then so be it. We cannot keep doing the same things and hoping for TT to become better, and don’t come with rich vs poor crap, if a man in a $1000dollar suit rob execute him too!

    • It”s a cultural of I don’t give a sh*t about anyone else but me, there we people who knew that this man is rapist and did nothing they did not report it to the police or anyone in authority because ” I is not a snitch” . Notice no one in the community come out and block the road and protest against this dastardly act .Scenario what if the police upon investigating this same rape and murder had pull aside these three individuals for questioning and they attempted to flee or draw their weapons and the police shot and kill the 3 of them those very same people would have flood the streets screaming bloody murder and police brutality .
      On the privy council issue the opposition has been voting against T&T giving up the PC because they don”t trust Caribbean Judges adjudicating and being the highest court in the land . Funny thing though they were the ones to bring this issue and start the process for the CCJ being our highest court but when Panday lost the election he started to sing a different song ” the chorus of the song has to do with race in T&T” you are a smart fella you filling the rest.
      PH taxis are illegal in T&T but they are a necessary evil because certain routes legal taxis don”t work because they are not economically viable or security issues; and that”s why PH taxis are needed.However the PM and CoP Griffith can give these drivers 10days to come in and register (picture taken and address recorded and verified with a back ground check and the police can simultaneously use this to expand their database) When this is done their vehicules will have a flouresent decal indicating that they are given permission to work underserve and off-hour routes only.

    • “You ever heard of a London, New York etc. bus driver raping women?”

      Mr Bickmaus, Ever heard of Jack the Ripper? He certainly did not drive either a bus or a taxi but he managed successfully to notch up at least five murders without being caught.

      You really think public transport or the lack of it is the problem? Look again at the examples Noble cites. Think you see an m.o. in common to all?

      Please. Certainly real solutions will require us to start with recognition of the complexity of the problem.

      • John Worboys raped over a hundred women while driving a black cab. The police were found to be at fault for not doing their jobs correctly. I suspect the same can be said of TTPS.

  3. “There are several uncontrollable risks for the individual woman: the brutish heart of man, the width of pavements as well as the availability of proper street lighting and public transport.” We have little power over is the first, so we (men and women) must pressure our government to fix the others.

  4. Unless you have statistics on how many men who make catcalls actually attack women, versus how many seemingly respectful men actually attack women you don’t know what you are talking about.

    How about saying “Businessmen need to get together to stop corruption”? Or “Italians need to get together to stop the mafia”? Or “Black people need to…”? Wait, I can’t expect black people to be responsible for the actions of a few, can I? Then, maybe, I can’t expect men to be available at every turn to protect all women. Maybe, just maybe the numbers of attacks are much less than they could be because men do step up.