The placard displayed by a protester at a vigil outside the Red House earlier this week said it all: “We are tired.”
That is the general feeling across the country as citizens once again experience grief and trauma at the brutal slaughter of another of our daughters.
This is a nation tired of empty talk and excuses, tired of being left powerless in the face of the decades-long criminal onslaught, tired of having to beg, plead and protest repeatedly.
There are many names etched on the national conscience— Asami Nagakiya, Shannon Banfield, Ashanti Riley and Andrea Bharatt are among them. To the frustration of many, the outcries that followed their heinous murders have not led to improvements in our laws or the criminal justice system.
It is as if, to use a colloquial term, we keep “spinning top in mud.”
Just over four years ago, Shannon, a 20-year-old bank employee, did a very ordinary thing and ended up dead—she went into a store on Charlotte Street in Port-of-Spain, IAM Variety Store, on December 5, 2016. Her badly decomposed body was found on the third floor of the store on December 8.
Earlier in the year, there was the still-unsolved murder of Asami Nagakiya, 31, of Hokkaido, Japan, who had been coming to T&T for the Carnival season since 2009.
Her body was found under a tree in the Queen’s Park Savannah still clad in her Legend’s costume. She had been strangled to death sometime between Carnival Tuesday night and Ash Wednesday.
Late last year, Ashanti Riley, 18, left her Lloyd Street, Sunshine Avenue, San Juan, home to attend her grandmother’s birthday party. Three days later her nude, decomposing body was found in a stream in La Canoa, Santa Cruz.
Andrea Bharatt’s death, after she was kidnapped two Friday’s ago on her way home from work, reopened deep wounds that these killings repeatedly inflict on the nation.
Scores of our women and girls have been stalked, snatched and slaughtered in just the last few years. They join a long list of victims in this country where one in three women and girls suffer domestic abuse, and 29 per cent of them experience physical and sexual assault.
The tears, protests and candlelight vigils held in the past few days are cries for help from citizens demanding more from our decision-makers who have been so caught up in games of political brinksmanship that key legislation, including the Bail (Amendment) and the Anti-Gang Acts, have expired or became ineffective.
In memory of all these victims, Guardian Media Limited repeats the call for passage of the Andrea Bharatt Bail (Amendment) Bill. Let this latest tragedy be the starting point for tougher laws, improved facilities and stronger systems to keep law-abiding citizens safe and deliver justice in a timely and effective manner.
In less than a month, T&T will join the world in observing International Women’s Day. At this sad juncture in our development, with the blood of so many staining our soil, there will be little to celebrate.
Instead, this weary nation cries out for healing and hope. Our parliamentarians should heed these calls.