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Village Voice joins with all right-thinking Guyanese in supporting the removal of Mr. Charrandas Persaud as Guyana’s High Commissioner to India. Like others, the newspaper watched in disbelief the tape of Persaud verbally assaulting 63-year-old Ms. Sonya Ghosh, environmentalist and animal rights activist, in the vilest of manner, and using the crudest of language. This incident happened on August 1, 2021 outside Persaud’s official resident in India
Persaud’s behaviour was reprehensible, inexcusable and must find no support among right thinking Guyanese, regardless of their politics. This is not what Guyana must stand for.
The fact that more than one year after President Irfaan Ali has now seen it fitting to recall him, given mounting public criticism, is inexcusable. In keeping with diplomatic relations the Government of Guyana would have known about the incident when it happened or shortly after. Ms. Ghosh made a complaint to the police and copied to her Member of Parliament. Further, that the president announced only today Persaud would be recalled, after first having the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an insulting statement, is disturbing.
The play of events give rise to suspicions government was content to keep the abuse secret and have Persaud remain as High Commissioner were it not for the social media revelation. This plays into women’s fear about power relationship in squashing efforts at seeking justice and cessation to abuse, and also substantiates claims of the number of cases that go unreported because of these factors.
Admittedly, there are men in high offices who are known to be abusers of women, and have gotten away with, and in some instances with the support of women within the political organisation by their silence. This social degeneracy must be stopped. Apart from gender respect, Persaud is also disrespectful of the elderly, which is ageism, and disapproved of by the United Nations and Guyanese raised to be respectful of our seniors.
Society should always ensure their finest are placed on the international arena, which is not something the PPP government is often mindful of. However, that does not mean Guyanese, home and abroad, should accept less than the finest representing us on the international stage.
We have to make some noise and demand justice for Sonya, all women, and humankind. A simple recall will not do. Persaud must publicly apologise to Guyanese and submit to counselling. His misbehavior has brought disrepute to Guyana and intensify fear in women these abuses will be allowed to continue and can get the protection of the Ali administration.
Women have fought long and hard and continue to fight to be treated as equals, with respect and dignity, in their homes and public spaces. Persaud’s assault on Sonya is an affront to these centuries of struggles and accumulated achievements. His assault is an affront to political icons like Mrs. Janet Jagan, Viola Burnham, Winifred Gaskin, Jane Phillips-Gay, Shirley Field-Ridley, Philomena Sahoye-Shury and countless forerunners in modern Guyana that have made significant contributions to the advancement and empowerment of women.
Women have not come this far to turn back now.
Dr. Vindhya Vasini Persaud, Minister of Human Services and Social Security, must lead the way in getting her government to accept Persaud’s abusive behaviour has not only brought international shame and disrepute to Guyana but an affront to women everywhere. She must also institute classes for the men in the government who think it acceptable, in the 21st century, to abuse women. No partisan politics can be greater than the national good and standing up for women’s rights, be it in Guyana, India or any part of the world.