–speaking out about the untold violence at hands of their partners
AS Guyana joins the rest of the world in celebration of 16 days of activism against gender violence, women here are taking Government’s advice and beginning to speak out. Some are speaking out by organising forums and voicing their opinions, while others are telling of their experiences, offering to those still abiding in violent relationships a ray of hope that the prison doors can be opened.
Sandra, a quiet woman from a rural neighbourhood, is one of the latter such women. She sees her freedom as a miracle, and has decided to let her voice be heard. She said she is sure her escape from her last relationship was a new lease on life, as it once seemed impossible for her to get out from under the thumb of the ruthless fiend even the police could not save her from.
It all began with a confrontation regarding infidelity between herself and her then partner, Kevin, in full view of the police. “Kevin slapped me in a central part of the community late one night. I told him I was telling the truth, and that I was going to the police station. I was shocked and couldn’t believe he actually hit me in such a public place.”
The woman said that as she made her way to the station, Kevin rode right alongside her, still accusing her of having an affair.
She said she asked him several times to leave her alone, but this only seemed to incense him, as he jumped off the bicycle and started punching her until she fell to the ground.
Luckily, a man in a minibus saw what was happening and shouted at Kevin to leave her alone. And, seeing a chance to escape, she got to her feet and continued to head for the police station, which was less than a mile away.
But Kevin would again catch up with her, and this time he would threaten to do her harm. “When I reached the line,” she said, “he jumped off the bicycle and approached, threatening me with an empty Guinness bottle he had in his hand.
“It was the scariest moment of my life; the place was dark and lonely. I ran the fastest I could until I reached the police station. As I banked into the station compound, he rode across at top speed.”
She said he was riding so fast, he couldn’t even stop. What may have saved her, Sandra said, was that she’d never before told him that she was once an athlete, so he had no idea she could run so fast.
AT THE STATION
On reaching the station, she told the police on duty that her boyfriend had assaulted her and she was there to make a report.
She was eventually invited to sit on a bench beyond a small gate in the area where the report is usually taken. And as she began relating to the police what had happened, up came Kevin.
“I heard the gate push,” she said, “and when I looked up, Kevin was right there, standing in front of me! I saw passion and violence in his eyes!”
His words to her were: “Oh, suh you come hey fuh mek report fuh me?” And with that, he slapped her twice!
Appalled that he was allowed to hit her and get away with it, and in a police station at that, she tried to run, but he was right there. So she did the next best thing, which was to try covering her head with both arms as he rained blows on her while expressing himself in the most colourful of languages.
Again, the policemen on duty did nothing; rather, they begged him to stop, but he boldly told them: “Stay out of this! Not a boy can’t tell meh nutten!”
THE LAST STRAW
This was the last straw for Sandra! And as he was about to hit her again, she got up, ran behind him and bit him hard on his left ear. That seemed to do the trick, and the police were finally able to get him to sit on a bench, albeit briefly.
“I stood there feeling like a fool! I started shouting, saying, ‘I am leaving this station, because nobody can save me! Not even the police can protect me!’”
And with that, she turned on her heels and ran as fast as she could back to the village, all the while looking behind her to see if the coast was clear.
She recalled that as she was leaving the station, she saw out of the corner of her eye that Kevin was taking the stairs right behind her, with two baton carrying policemen in hot pursuit. The last she saw of him that night, Sandra said, the police were having a hard time subduing him, but thankfully, she was able to get away.
The following day, she said, she was invited to the police station to complete filing her report.
Today, the two are separated; she’d decided to drop the case against him, seeing that he had children. Not only was he a single parent, she said, but his children were aged 12 and 14.