Our brothers and sons must know that we must not cope with rejection through aggression

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Dear Editor,

I have contemplated intensely for quite some time on how to approach such a delicate matter. Apart from a simple  Facebook share or two , at the time, I said virtually nothing much relating to the incidents but now I will share my fully developed thoughts. Last month, our nation was shocked by two domestic homicides: Shonnette Dover and Nicola Wilson. Shonnette was allegedly shot dead by her boyfriend who then buried her in his backyard. Nicola was stabbed to death by her partner who killed himself afterwards.

The outrage was justifiable but it has now practically died down. However, the plague of domestic homicides still affects Guyana. It seems we keep on evading the real issue at hand when it comes to matters like these. So much so that, after details of Shonnette’s boyfriend surfaced, the public’s  focus shifted to his sexuality and making jokes about it. It seemed like people just forgot that this man is an alleged murderer and started making a slew of homophobic jokes. I was appalled but not surprised. Afterwards, two Government ministers spoke out urging victims to leave the abusive relationships. Now, while I understand and recognize that if we can leave an abusive relationship we should HOWEVER it is far more complex than that. In fact, some may consider those remarks harmful in that we are placing the burden of responsibility on the women to leave and that if they die because they didn’t leave then it’s their fault. The story of Tiffeney Ageda drives my point home. This is a woman who left the abusive relationship, but her abuser incessantly harasses her leaving her fearful for her life. She said it best when she said “They say you got to leave but it’s never that easy”. We need to start recognizing that abusive relationships don’t end with the woman leaving. Abusive relationships end with the abusers stopping the abuse. Doing otherwise will burden, stigmatize and demonize women even further.

Moreover, we need to have frank and open discussions on how men react and deal with situations. We need to tear down the notion that violence and aggressiveness is somehow equated to masculinity. That is a load of hogwash. I noted that Shaqwuan Alleyne (Dover’s boyfriend) had a stillborn career as a rap artist. In his music video he was seen playing with guns and blades and dealing with enemies through violence. One needs to ask how many males in our society see this as “masculine” and see this as the right way to respond and resolve disputes. Toxic masculinity is real, and has cultivated negative stereotypes on how men should conform in a society in terms of behaviour patterns. It is time that we as men, start the conversations on how we tear down these oppressive schools of thought and discuss what REALLY constitutes masculinity. And how WE should raise our boys to respond and react in situations. Our brothers and sons must know that we must not cope with rejection through aggression. We must not solve a dispute with violence and anger. We must not suppress our sexuality or be homophobic to somehow be “masculine”.  It starts with us. I am calling on all of my brothers to shift the tides of society and do the necessary work for us to do better, and for future generations yet unborn.

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Yours faithfully

Nikhil Sankar.



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