Thursday, 8 December 2016

When is Enough, Enough?

Even in my own grief of  having lost my husband last month, I wept today for a young lady who went missing a few days ago and whose body was found today behind boxes in a busy store in the heart of town. An apparently sheltered twenty year old with her life before her who recently started to work in a major bank and who had called her mother on Monday afternoon to say that she was going to Pennywise and IAM Company before coming home is no longer alive. Her Pennywise bags and a shoe were found before she was. The story apart from being tragic, is smattered with anecdotes of how she was found, where she was found and what had been done to her body before being dumped.
It's a tragic story and one that, for all the four hundred plus murders that have taken place on this tiny island this year, seems to have hit home more than most. We ignore gangland killings. We ignore disappearances - talking behind closed doors and not so closed doors, of human trafficking, family revenges, gang related revenges. Even though it's very wrong, we seem to take those in our stride.
So why has this particular murder been the subject of so many threads on social media? So many conversations? Such anger? A population coming together in a unified outrage? The answer is 'women'. Whilst men are also outraged (my driver this evening was beside himself with anger) young women and not so young women have come together and continue to come together in solidarity over this terrible, terrible murder. Many of the women we know - mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts... walk the streets of Port of Spain before work, during the day, popping out for lunch, rushing to Pennywise because goods are cheaper there than in the Malls without a thought for their safety. They stop off at vendors in Charlotte Street to pick up fruit and vegetables, pop into the odd shop as a dress or a top catches their eye and then the Chinese supermarket for a cold drink and something to munch on as they make their way back to the office. Although we have been saying for a long time that nowhere in Trinidad, not even one's own home is safe, I believe the events of today hit home for many women especially those who work in Port of Spain.
I believe there is to be a silent demonstration tomorrow at the bottom of Charlotte Street. If I could be with them I would be but I know plenty of young women who have pledged to take part. Women from all walks of life. Women from all professions. Women who have had enough. It is time for women to step up and call for a solution. When women en masse are angry it's time to watch out. I sincerely hope this is not a nine day wonder. I sincerely hope that this is the straw that breaks the camel's back. Maybe, just maybe Shannon Banfield's grotesque murder has made women angry enough to call out the necessary authorities; to make them act and to make them understand that women are not second class citizens and that they are entitled to walk the streets without fear, get into taxis without wondering whether or not they will make it to their destinations and be able to walk past a group of men without being harassed and hassled, never mind attacked or murdered.
This candle is for Shannon. May she rest in eternal peace and may perpetual light shine upon her. May her family be comforted and may the women of Trinidad and Tobago come together as one, remain together as one and make a great deal of noise as one. So much noise that the sound cannot be ignored. Let this not be a nine day wonder - let us use the loss of this innocent young woman to make our voices heard. Only in unity can we make others listen. Only in unity can we make a difference. Let those of us who are outraged today keep up the fight to stem the violence.
Shannon, soar with angels.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Pray for the World

The  gruesome, last  twenty four hours have been devastating.  The media pushing the horror of Paris into our living rooms every minute of the day.  The best and the worst of social media gone mad.    I had to remove myself from it.

Whilst I too am shocked by what happened and have a great deal of sympathy for France, its citizens and share in the rest of the world's indignation, I have to ask where is, and where was that same indignation twenty four hours earlier when  suicide bombers killed forty three people in Beirut? There are atrocities happening every day in the Middle East which are barely reported.

Is it that we only react when a person from the Western world is killed or injured in terrorist attacks? Is it that we are "all-compassioned-out"? Is it that we don't think it will affect us because we are far removed geographically? Is it some lives don't matter?  Is it that some people find it too painful to deal with?  I don't know the answers to those questions but what I do know, is that terrorism at its vilest is on our doorstep and will eventually affect us all. Innocent people of all religions will die.

It is time for us to start caring for all the lives being lost and affected by this war.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Je Suis Charlie

Today we witnessed yet another atrocity.  The difference is that this time, ( 9/11 apart) it's in our own  backyard. How many people in Europe and the UK ( I split the two) have said ' this could not happen here', "this will not happen here", "we will not allow it to happen here" ?  The burning news is that it is here and it is happening. A gunman (thug, terrorist, coward) in broad daylight, standing over an innocent and pumping bullets into him supposedly in the name of Allah? I am sure Allah has a completely different take on these heinous murders and will be withholding the seventy two virgins that fanatical male extremists  believe they are going to encounter when they go to that boudoir in the far beyond.

Time to wake up and really, really and smell the coffee.  Notwithstanding the murder of  British soldier Lee Rigsby at Woolwich Barracks, south east London by Michael Adebolaja and Michael Adebowale in 2013, I think many of us continue to believe that all is well in our world. Whilst some have fears and certain reservations when faced with bearded men in Muslim garb and women in total purdah, there are many more of us who would like to, and do believe, that your average Muslim is not a threat to our society.

So my challenge is to those who do not condone the actions of the extremists.  Instead of going on air and 'talking', put your money where your mouths are and join the protests.  Show us that you are peace loving as many I believe, are.  I feel this because I have Muslim friends.  Friends who cried when the Ayatolla  overthrew the Shah in 1979.  Friends whose weddings I have attended, whose babies I have held.  Friends who have said in reference to the atrocities, 'this is not true Islam'. Will those friends please stand up and be counted so that we do know and understand  that the faith you belong to is not about ruling the world, is not about hatred for anyone other than a Muslim brother (why are you slaughtering your own?) or that you will not rest until Islam is the only recognized religion in this world.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Serious Crime in Trinidad & Tobago

On the 3 January 2015, at 7.00 pm news time seven murders have been recorded for the New Year.

The government but more so the Minister of National Security tells us that 'serious crime' is down. Well isn't that something to be grateful for! (She said sarcastically).  So tell me: "what defines serious crime"??  Does the attack by two men on my daughter in broad daylight, two minutes away from home in 2014 constitute 'serious crime'?  Or is it just the 'murder' cases?  We closed 2014 with over 400 murders. Four hundred and three to be precise. The figures were not down from 2013 even though  in that year when it looked as though things were totally out of control, a State of Emergency was called.  It would seem that was a good thing because had that not been the case, the statistics would have been much higher than the flour hundred and seven that closed the year.  The worst year between 1994 and 2014, was a figure of five hundred and fifty in 2008.  In 1994 the murders for the year were one hundred and forty three. It went down slowly over the next few years but there has been a steady increase since 2000 when we recorded one hundred and eighteen.

Between 2002 and 2007 there were three hundred and thirty eight kidnappings, some of them ending in murder. 2008 to 2014 saw  thirty and again some of them ending in murders.  These are not just statistics for some of us because we happened to know some of those people.

I know several families who have had members kidnapped and several too who have lost a loved one to  murderers.

So back to my question: "how do the authorities define serious crime"?  To me any crime is serious. Murder, kidnapping, rape, domestic abuse, theft, child abuse,incest.........  these are figures of 'serious crime'

Murders and kidnapping figures look like this: (source

1994 to Present, Crime Statistics -
Thanks to our source for providing information. If anything here may be incorrect, please let us know.

15 were female
24 were female
117 murders were in the POS District with 70 in the Western District
Big increase in the number of murders. A significant drop in kidnappings for ransom
The month of June had the highest number of murders for the year: 55
January and July had the highest number of murders at 46 in each month
According to the police the murder total for 2012 may be lower (to be verified)

The country has been told that the Hanging Bill will be reintroduced into Parliament in 2015.  Do we really want this? I have written about capital punishment before but I honestly believe that we have reached the stage where criminals don't care whether they live or die anymore. Especially those involved in gang related crime. They know they are going to die one way or the other.  It is so bad that they no longer cover their faces or worry about cameras catching them. 

And other serious crimes between 1990 and 2001  look like this. Do these 'serious crime' figures include murders? Kidnappings?

Serious Reported Crimes Previous Years
1990 -- 16,202
1991 -- 16,157
1992 -- 17,680
1993 -- 19,547
1994 -- 18,614
1995 -- 16,783
1996 -- 18,093
1997 -- 16,989
1998 -- 15,796
1999 -- 16,260
2000 -- 17,132
2001 -- 17,133

Shouldn't these 'Other Crime Statistics' be seen as 'serious crime'??

Other Crime Statistics
A significant increase in break-ins / burglaries
* Burglaries and break-ins only.
** Includes incest and other sexual offenses

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Mayhem in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is a beautiful twin island Republic which at the moment is spiralling out of control and is in severe danger of totally losing its credibility within the international community. Whilst some parts of the country look like this:

there is also an extremely dark side.  Following the recent assassination of prominent Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal, in typical Trinidadian fashion, rumours are flying.  Many believe the brutal murder of this 'giant' of a lady was meant to send a strong message to this country.  Many also believe that the drug lords are 'upstanding' members of the community and it is they and not the government who are running this country.

We stare corruption at all levels in the face every day.  People don't trust the police, government ministers or opposition leaders.  Some people buy their driver's licence and then die on the roads. Money passes hands in order to get things done. People turn a blind eye. Money laundering is the norm. People turn a blind eye.  Tenders and contracts are fixed.  People turn a blind eye. If they talk they will probably end up on a slab in the mortuary.

The murder toll for 2013, in a population of 1.3 million was 407.  Today we hear that there is a murder every seventeen hours and the toll for this year already stands at 172.

In 2013 a State of Emergency was declared in a bid to put a halt to the out of control murder rate.  It failed and once lifted, nothing changed. During the SOE, the merchants cried because their businesses were badly affected.  Takings and profits were down and no one here wants that even if it means a temporary lull in blood being spilt.

Law abiding citizens are afraid.  Afraid of the corruption, of the lies, of the crime, of being caught in the crossfire as wars continue and afraid that those at the top who are responsible for what is happening on the streets will never be caught and brought to justice.

Away from the beaches, the restaurants, the theatre, the appearance of normality on this island, the following is an insight into what is going on behind the screen.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Shouter Baptists, Vote Catcher and Lunch 2014

Before I try to compose the weekly Magpie I would like to share with you a little of the Trinidad and Tobago culture.

Tomorrow is Spiritual Shouters Baptist Day and is a Public Holiday in this nation.  We have a great many public holidays here!  The government also gives extra days when nationals make their mark world wide as in the case of cricketer Brian Lara breaking the world record with 375 runs and Keshon Walcott winning a gold medal at the London Olympics 2012 for javelin throwing.  I term these extra holidays as 'vote catchers' but in reality when it comes to General Elections, people forget what the government hope they would have remembered!

Rather than writing a repeat of a  past blog about this day, if you are interested, here is the link.

I will not be at home tomorrow.  A girlfriend is leaving for two weeks holiday  in Canada soon and her birthday will happen whilst she is away.  So a group of friends have arranged a birthday lunch tomorrow.  Great way to spend a Public Holiday - girls' lunch.  Haven't been to one in a while and looking forward to it.  

Thursday, 2 January 2014

2 Jan 2014 and Seven Murders.......

Trinidad and Tobago Crime News: Latest.

2013 ends with 407 murders which is higher than the two previous years. 

2014 starts with terrible violence in Trinidad & Tobago. The first murder was a 
Pastor and in the past 48 hours there were 7 murders alrea

So not yet quite 48 hours into 2014 and already seven murders have been committed. Oh yes, welcome to Trinidad and Tobago folks. It is difficult to determine who makes up the charts for world crime statistics s but last week according to one site, T & T ranks third in the world when it comes to Crime by Country. Venezuela heads the list, Guatemala second and South Africa fourth. The site is: 

On another site, in December 2012 we ranked # 8 in the world for homicides which translates into 47 per 100,000.

The US has rated crime in T & T as critical and recently the British government put out yet another damning travel advisory.  The tourist industry is suffering.

Whether the Crime Index Country by Country (note crime and not murders) is a correct indication or not, we are perceived by the outside world to be a hot spot, a major hot spot. Trinidadians on the whole, pooh pooh these figures and question their authenticity yet are afraid to move out of their homes after dark and will not venture into certain parts of the country in daylight never mind after the sun has gone down.

A great many of the murders are drug and gang related, quite a few are domestic and some are committed against children by someone known to them.

My concern is that many of the crimes committed go unsolved.  There is talk of corruption within the police force, the military and the government.  Many of the murders are definite 'hits' .  We have a great deal of work to do in this country although many believe that we are far too gone to even think of being saved.

T T is a beautiful twin island Republic with a culture and beauty that is envied world wide.   How long before we become the Haiti of the Caribbean?