Lessons for Guyana over heinous murder in Trinidad

Dear Editor,
There are massive protests and vigils being held all over Trinidad in reaction to the senseless murder of an Indian young lady, Andrea Bharrat, who has become a household name, now adopted as everyone’s daughter or sister. There are lessons for Guyana in the people’s response to violent crimes, and what Government should do.
That beautiful young lady, described as an angel, had just begun to live her life. As aptly stated on social media, “She is a pretty flower that did not get to bloom because of the dastard act of evil minds”.
Andrea’s cultural passion and “Trininess” were admirable. She had made a fantastic video of a typical Hindu wedding, and it has gone viral.
That type of murder can happen anywhere. It is an unspeakable crime. Haven’t we experienced similar crimes in Guyana? So, there are lessons for Guyana. A young girl, merely 23, returning home from her job at a magistrate’s court, was kidnapped, abused, raped, spoiled, killed, and dumped overboard down a ravine of labyrinth depth. A helicopter was required in order to descend and recover her broken body. What happened to this young lady is indescribable. It was a heinous, most brutal and inhumane act.
There is much media publicity over the murder, and there are spontaneous public protests. Some sections of the media were insensitive and heartless. Instead of focusing on the murder, they were focusing on “belly” and corporate income. For example, one talk show host in Trinidad opted to share a recipe on “how to make dhal”, rather than provide comfort to people who were protesting and in distress over the rape and murder. This prompted a social commentator to pen: “Why have we grown so cold blooded that a crime of this magnitude is not given the prominence it deserves in the media? It seems that when it’s our child or sibling or parents, that only then are we moved to express our feelings. If Andrea was a celebrity or the daughter of a prominent politician, the headlines would have been splurging nonstop with the story. There is one justice for the well-to-do and the connected and another for the poor.”
What happened to Andrea can happen to another person in an environment where crime has skyrocketed. Thus, the public in TT or in Guyana should not take illusory comfort in their home or office, and wish away this problem. A critic wisely advises: “We must recast our focus on the gravity of such crime, just imagining if Andrea was one of our own”.
Those responsible for the crime, including those who conspired in the kidnapping and who disclosed information about the girl’s whereabouts, must face the law. The death penalty is warranted for criminals who display the mentality of a beast.
People may take the law in their own hands.
One commentator asked, “What are our options? Should people take the law in their own hands to get justice?”
Countries like TT and Guyana should look at ways of curbing these abuses and assaults on women while they are using public transportation, including taxis. The death penalty is warranted for perpetrators of rape and/or murder.
Is the death penalty still in force? In the case of Guyana, Guyanese are calling for the restoration of the death penalty for dastardly crimes.
Contrary to what some may feel, capital punishment is a deterrence. As an illustration, in Guyana, the dictator Desmond Hoyte resumed hanging in 1987, and it resulted in a dramatic downturn in crime when a few hard-core murderers were hanged. Fear of being hanged sends jitters down the spines of those on Death Row. One can’t imitate a policy or objection to the death penalty of a developed country. Hanging would send the right signal to would-be criminals. It would help to reduce crime.
It is the duty of a state to protect its citizens. It must respond promptly against those who engage in acts of violence. The Governments of TT and Guyana should consider compensating victims of serious crime. There are precedents. In the US, for example, civil actions are brought against criminals for wrongful deaths, or crimes that affect people.
Monetary relief won’t solve crime. But, at a minimum, it would address the pain and anguish of family members of victims.

Yours truly,
Dr Vishnu Bisram