As a Secondary school teacher at an all-girls school, Seema Suraj said the kidnapping and murder of Andrea Bharatt disturbed her so much she felt a need to take a stand against the issues facing women and girls in T&T.
Yesterday, three days after Bharatt’s decomposing body was found dumped off a precipice in the Heights of Aripo, Suraj was joined by hundreds of other citizens in a motorcade from Chaguanas to the Queen’s Park Savannah. The group, most of them with signs plastered on their windows or taped to their vehicles, drove from Barakah Grounds in Chaguanas to the Queen’s Patk Savannah, driving around several times with their lights flashing.
In an interview with Guardian Media, Suraj said she, like many other citizens, followed Bharatt’s story closely.
“When we went through the uncertainty of wondering whether she was alive, whether these monsters had killed her, I call them monsters because they are not human beings if they can do something like that to a child, she was a child,” Suraj said. “As a teacher, I felt that pain that this could have been one of my girls who I would have taught, I took it personally because of that.”
She said her grief at Bharatt’s death led to her coming up with the slogan “Enough is enough.” She began mobilising her friends and family members and made a poster to share on social media.
“How many times are we going to have to go on social media or listen to the news and hear that another woman has lost her life to violence? We have been asking and pleading and no one is listening, we thought it was time to take a stand, this is our way of trying to get those in authority to listen to us,” she said.
She said she felt a motorcade was the best option in keeping with Public Health Regulations.
But when Sunday morning came around, Suraj said she was stunned by the large turnout of people to the motorcade, with truckers, motorcyclists among the almost 200-vehicles in the procession.
She said it was an indication that citizens were all on the same page.
“The citizens are angry, they are hurt, they are upset and they want their voices to be heard.”
Suraj said she intends to have another motorcade soon but she plans to have a meeting point afterwards where she can address participants.
She said those who are interested in taking part can check her Facebook account, with the name Seema Suraj, for upcoming announcements.
Guardian Media spoke to several people who took part in the motorcade.
Taxi driver, Deolal Rampaul, said he felt he needed to be present because he has children and grandchildren and he is concerned for their safety as well.
“I also work taxi too so it is important that we get together and do something that is right,” he said.
Aneera Abraham said she too felt a need to take a stand.
“It is important to take part in the demonstration because we need to show the country that we need to stand up for what is right and what happened to that young lady and all the other women is wrong,” she said.
Tameshwhar Ragbir from Charlieville, said he participated because women and girls are under attack in T&T.
“We are here to show our support for the ladies, it is very important, there are too many heinous crimes being done against the young ladies,” he said.
Ragbir said he is willing to join any protest that is being held to support this cause.