Thursday, March 7, 2019
On the eve of Women’s month, the family of 18 year old Joan Gabourel released an official missing person’s report and only three days later her body was found brutalized. A family left to mourn the passing of a young, bright, cheerful woman; on the month in which we should be celebrating the successes and strengths of all our Belizean women.
Let us also not forget that on the very first day of Women’s Month, Belmopan officials decided to leave a hard working woman without a roof over her head, with her children sleeping out on a mattress exposed to the open environment. On this day, as women of the People’s United Party along with Oscar Mira and other concerned residents of Belmopan stood up to prevent such an injustice, the police officers who were tasked with keeping the peace and whose job entails to protect the people, did just the opposite. In a video that has since then been circulated around social media, it can be seen that from early on the police officers were not there on friendly terms. They can be seen pushing around the protesters including Oscar Mira. But the most despicable thing that happened was the arrest of Rocio Quiroz, who according to by standers did nothing that would justify the force in which she was dragged across the yard and into a police patrol. Tanya Santos who is president of the United Women’s Group (UWG), and who was out there in support of Nicolasa Cus got a gun pointed at her when all she was doing was trying to figure out why four police officers were needed to arrest a defenseless young mother.
This year’s theme for women’s month is “Think equal, build smart, and innovate for change.” Is it possible to believe that the police officers thought that the meaning for “equal” meant that it was okay to perpetuate the same amount of violence and force that they are used to on lawless males, on defenseless females?
Women’s month has been off to a disastrous beginning, with senseless murders, acts of violence and injustices towards women. The most disheartening aspect of all of this is that the Special Envoy for Women and Children has remained silent. The same Special Envoy who was able to put out a press release on a Sunday on a cyberbullying matter, cannot speak out on the grotesque killing of a young mother, on the excessive manhandling of a woman by police forces, or on the injustice that Ms. Cus who is a mother of two girls, now without home. This in no way is trying to belittle the severity of the matter on cyberbullying but an attempt to highlight the disparity in recognizing issues that affect women. Ms. Cus, Ms. Tanya and Ms. Quiroz, who are everyday women.