Losing a son or a daughter is impossibly hard for any parent.
Losing them at the hands of senseless and violent beasts is even worse.
The violent end of Andrea Bharatt’s life at just 23 was obscene, just as it was in the case of the 18-year old Ashanti Riley, barely two months ago. This country has lost far too many young, promising women at the hands of murderous fiends. Many citizens have lost sons and daughters to the hands of a small group who rape, rob, maim, and murder for material gain or simply to satisfy a deprived mind.
The Greeks, in their tragedies, wisely kept the worst moments of the plot off stage.
That is why the word obscene—out of the scene—came to mean something
shocking, immoral or grotesque.
That’s why these tragic deaths are obscene. Besides their relatives, who are forced to see their loved ones not only dead but also decomposing, disfigured or dismembered, we don’t witness or see the outcome of these barbarous crimes.
We are left only imagining the horror and terror in the face of every victim, the horror and the terror in the face of every father, every mother, every husband, every wife, every sibling, every child put through the angst of trying to locate a loved one and, eventually, having to find them brutally assaulted and murdered.
And then there is the obscenity of those waiting forever, hoping that, one day, a loved one long disappeared will come back home. Or that the body will finally be located so that all involved can at least find some peace.
But there is also the kind of obscenity of these awful crimes that is out in the open,
for all to see.
The obscenity of our collective failure to deal with the problems we face, soon forgetting the latest outrage caused by another murder that touched a nerve.
The obscenity of our political leaders who choose to play politics instead of uniting to implement the laws and actions needed to drastically reduce crime rates and make society safer without resorting to useless quick fixes or populist measures.
Bring back the hangman? For pure revenge, perhaps, but experience elsewhere shows the death penalty does not reduce crime. Pepper spray? For a sense of security, perhaps, but most violent crimes, especially those of a sexual nature or against children, are committed by people who are known to the victims, not by strangers in the dark of night.
This Newspaper is of the firm belief that both parties in Parliament must overcome their differences and urgently pass an acceptable new Bail Act, which should be called the Andrea Bharatt Bail Act, as a reminder to every magistrate and lawyer, politician and even criminal of the most heinous of acts that took the life of a young woman who had so much to offer.
The objective of the Act must be to ensure that potentially dangerous people are not let loose in the community. And Andrea’s senseless killing, like Ashanti’s just before hers, must be the tipping point to wake up those charged with running the country.
But we also know and understand that the passing of the Andrea Bharatt Bail Act alone won’t solve our obscenely high crime rates.
We need a police service that does its job from crime prevention to investigation and, crucially, to conviction. The high number of individuals charged but on bail is in good part down to the failure by the TTPS and its officers to show up in court or file the necessary paperwork.
We need a fully working and efficient forensics operation to ensure vital information is available to help the police investigate crimes and for prosecutors to put those guilty behind bars. It’s simply obscene that the family of six-year-old Sean Luke is yet to see justice been done because no one in charge can be bothered to sort out an outstanding DNA analysis 15 years after he was brutally assaulted and killed.
We need a justice system that operates fairly but swiftly as it is equally obscene to see those accused of crimes kept in remand for 10, 15 years without their moment in court (as it is the case of those charged with Sean’s death) to prove their innocence or meet the punishment they deserve.
We need a transport system that is efficient and properly regulated, as no pepper spray will stop citizens, especially women, from falling prey to criminals when anyone, at any time, can pose as a taxi driver.
We need a comprehensive programme to help educate our men, from a young age, so that they understand women are not their property, that a woman’s body belongs to her alone and nobody else, and that they ought to be treated with respect.
We equally need a comprehensive programme to help educate our men in particular, again from a young age, that violence, gangs and crime are never acceptable, and we must provide the conditions for them to have a decent and honest life instead.
And we need to do a lot more if we really want to respect the memory of Andrea and the thousands of women brutally assaulted, killed and dumped as though their lives had no value or meaning in T&T over the past few decades.
Trinidad and Tobago’s obscene violence must stop. And we can stop it if, beginning with our politicians, we cuss and bicker less and work together to rid society from this curse.
Yesterday, the T&T Guardian wore black to mourn the obscene death of Andrea Bharatt. Today we invite you to, like us, carry the yellow of hope that, together, we will all act so that Andrea’s tragic end will not be just another footnote in our violent recent past.
This obscene violence must end.
There are no ifs and buts, those who sought the mandate from the people must do their duty to the people. THERE IS NO CHOICE! Indeed, THEY HAVE NO CHOICE. To begin with, they must ensure that those who do the crime must face the time! The country demands no less.