Women's Issues In Guyana

She asked for it!

Posted in Commentary,Domestic Violence,Stella Says by wiig on January 12, 2011

(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 12 January 2011)

Just before the “Break the Silence, Stop the Violence” rally last November, I was on television almost daily to promote the rally. As a result, many people would come up to me and tell me their thoughts on the subject of domestic violence. I was more than a bit surprised by the number of women who would insist that if a woman marries a man who she knows is violent or stays in a relationship with a man who is violent – then she deserves the violence.

Do women who stay with abusers deserve the abuse? Let me say up front that this is the wrong question to start with, the questions we should be asking are: Why do assailants terrorize and torture their partners? Why is it that the vast majority of batterers are men and the vast majority of survivors are women? Why does society allow the abuse to continue?

However, for the sake of addressing this widespread belief – that the woman asked for the abuse – let’s list some of the many reasons why women stay in abusive relationships. Many believe that if an abused woman really and truly wanted to leave an abusive relationship, she would pack up her things and go. However, this conclusion ignores the environmental barriers that prevent women from leaving the abuser. (more…)


Guyana’s 2010 Woman of the Year

Posted in Commentary,Stella Says by wiig on January 9, 2011

(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 09 January 2011)

My male colleagues have made their choices for those they admired in 2010. Peeping Tom chose Glenn Lall as Man of the Year (nice choice) and Freddie wrote of a list of people from 2010 that he admires. Therefore, I would be remiss if I did not name my own selection for a female who deserves to be recognised.

I have met so many wonderful Guyanese women this year – women who have persevered through the most difficult of circumstances, women who are still struggling and doing it with valour, and women who dedicate their lives to helping others. Each one of these women has made a significant impact on me.

That being said, my choice for Woman of the Year 2010 is Varshnie Singh. When I met Varshnie in September of 2010, we met at my hotel and her easy-going demeanour put me at ease from the very start. To be sure, we were both probably a bit wary of the other since she came from a life of politics and me being a journalist. The first thing she did was ask the taxi driver (she did not have a car to drive at this point) to drive me around town as she showed me sights that no one had yet taken the time to show me. (more…)

Domestic Violence: The 2011 Agenda

Posted in Stella Says by wiig on January 1, 2011

(Originally published in Guyana’s Kaieteur News on 01 January 2011)

I cannot help but joyfully note that articles in the newspapers about domestic violence cases are substantially lower. Compared to the situation six months ago, when there seemed to be an article about a woman being beaten and/or murdered almost every day – the apparent scarcity of those stories as 2010 came to a close is like a breath of fresh air.

It seems the campaigns (by both the private and public sectors) to educate men and women on the evils of domestic violence have made an impact. However, I am only cautiously optimistic because I know there is still so much work yet to be done. I know that since domestic violence has not yet been eradicated in Guyana, we must continue to speak against it and find a holistic approach to eliminate it.

There was much effort in the last part of 2010 to bring awareness to this issue. Some of which included the “Break the Silence, Stop the Violence” rally (held by local NGOs), workshops held throughout the country, government- and privately-sponsored television discussion panels and commercials, a march organised by ROC, 14 religious bodies signing a joint communiqué taking a zero tolerance stance against domestic violence (I hope they remain true to their commitment), the Skeldon Declaration being initiated, house-to-house awareness visits were conducted, training sessions held by the government for community leaders and a White Zone being established in Berbice. (more…)

Stella Says…Ladies, take the time to nurture your health

Posted in Health Issues,Stella Says by wiig on May 11, 2006
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Kaieteur News – May 11, 2006

Next week is National Women’s Health Week in the US. I would have never known any such thing existed except that I went searching for news items that would highlight this important subject.

I was recently made very aware of just how different health care can be for women and men. Over the past four years I have suffered from severe pain attacks from a mysterious source. The first time it happened, in September of 2003, I was put through a full battery of tests to determine the cause.

After being put through the wringer (I really hate all those tests), the doctors could not find what was causing my pain and said it had to be something like kidney stones, though they found no reason to believe that was the cause either.

The pain attacks happened about the same time in 2004 and again in 2005, and then it started happening more frequently. Each time the doctors could not find what was causing the pain. I have a high pain tolerance, but this kind of pain was off the Richter scale and absolutely unbearable.   (more…)

Stella Says…I want to see a competition between Portia Simpson Miller and Keith Hernandez

Posted in Culture & Society,Gender Equality,Stella Says by wiig on April 30, 2006
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Kaieteur News – April 30, 2006

Female leaders sure have been busy this week in the Caribbean. In Trinidad, Kamla Persad-Bissessar was appointed as the new leader of the opposition party, United National Congress (UNC) after the former Prime Minister, Basdeo Panday, was imprisoned for not being as forthcoming as possible to T & T’s Integrity Commission.

Also in Trinidad this week, Jamaica’s new female Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, made her first official visit since assuming her new position last month. She and Trinidadian Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, reached an agreement that Trinidad will supply Jamaica with a long-term supply of natural gas.

Meanwhile, back in the states, a former baseball player for my favourite team, the Cardinals, let his mouth move faster than his brain. Keith Hernandez, who is now a sport commentator for the New York Mets, was seriously upset when he saw a woman in the San Diego Padre’s dugout last Sunday.

He said, “Who is the girl in the dugout, with the long hair? What’s going on here? You have got to be kidding me. Only player personnel in the dugout.” Little did caveman commentator Keith know that “the girl with long hair” was the Padres’ massage therapist and a legitimate part of the team’s training staff.   (more…)

Stella Says…As if rape and abuse are not enough, women cannot even trust their nurses

Posted in Health Issues,Stella Says by wiig on April 18, 2006
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Kaieteur News – April 18, 2006

As I read the Kaieteur News article from Sunday entitled, “Maternity ward patients’ horror stories,” my feelings progressed from grief to anger to absolute outrage at how women were treated by the very medical professionals they trusted to safely help bring their babies into this world.

To say that I am appalled by this disgusting lack of professionalism is putting it very mildly. My mother-in-law’s mother died in a similar way over 60 years ago. She had delivered her baby, but fell out of the bed and bled to death before anyone even knew what had happened.

My mother-in-law and her younger brothers were then raised by their father and other family members, but what they needed was their mother. However, that was decades ago and one would assume that no such tragedies would be taking place today. Or at least very, very, very seldom.   (more…)

Stella Says…America has a double standard on Women’s Issues

Posted in Culture & Society,Gender Equality,Stella Says by wiig on April 13, 2006
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Kaieteur News – April 13, 2006

Last week I received an email from Sean Adams, a frequent letter writer, who pointed out that although several countries around the world are voting women into high (if not the highest) governmental positions, America has yet to vote a woman into the office of President.

Mr. Adams feels this is a double standard by the United States – and quite frankly, I agree. The U.S. loves to talk about women’s issues and encourage other countries to protect women from the many atrocities the gender has suffered (and is still suffering). However, when it comes to electing a woman to lead the country, America is – to some degree – still in the Dark Ages.

While there has been significant progress made for women in the last few decades and a healthy majority of the population view women as intelligent and capable, there is still a sizable group of Americans who believe a woman should be barefoot and pregnant. Translation: Keep the ignorant woman out of the man’s way while he makes all of the important decisions.   (more…)

Stella Says…International women leaders are setting higher standards

Posted in Gender Equality,Politics,Stella Says by wiig on April 6, 2006
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Kaieteur News – April 06, 2006

The world cannot help but take notice of the scores of women leaders who have recently come to the forefront of the international community. It is true that the gender of these leaders alone is news since women have been relegated solely to the position “housewife” for thousands of years – whether she wanted this position or not.

However, it is not only the fact that women are stepping out as world leaders that is catching the world’s interest. It is the finesse and quality of their leadership abilities that is wowing those who serve with these them and the constituency of their respective countries.

Last week in Israel, the nation’s newest centrist party, Kadima (which means forward), won the elections after putting the very popular female Foreign Minister, Tzipi Liyni, out in front of the public in the campaign ads for the party. Kadima took 32 of 120 seats, with the next closest party only taking 22 seats. Maybe this is the year for new parties with feminine leadership and new visions?   (more…)

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