Six years after maintaining absolute silence on allegations of domestic abuse leveled against him,
former President Bharrat Jagdeo has said that despite numerous claims being circulated he never resorted to physical violence against his ex-wife, Varshnie Singh.
Jagdeo, who spoke out in defence of women, yesterday, stated that the only act of physical violence against women he had ever been involved in was when he was a lad of 10 years and had tussles with his older sisters.
He made these remarks during a press briefing at Freedom House, Robb Street, yesterday.
At the time, he was asked about Minister of Health, Dr. Bheri Ramsaran’s confrontation with a female activist on Monday.
Jagdeo condemned the actions of his colleague. He stated, “Personally I think it should have never happened; it’s distasteful and we should never say anything about any woman, particularly women that way.”
Though he was not asked, Jagdeo volunteered, “I saw they’ve said that I beat my wife; you can ask her. Let me make it clear to everyone: I have never touched, physically abused, a single woman in my entire life, including my ex-wife.
“So that is clear, I can say it here: never, ever. I fought with my older sisters when they used to beat me up a few times but that was when I was ten years old.
“Outside from that I never ever touched a single woman,” he stressed.
Jagdeo made it clear that his party does not condone attacks on any female.
When former First Lady, Varshnie Singh, spoke out in 2009 about what she called “institutionalized” or “high-tech” domestic violence, she spoke of her fears and insecurities living in a country where her
“oppressor” had his hand in every facet of the day to day functioning of the country.
This, she said, had put her in a precarious position from which she could not escape. It was after she was locked out of State House that the Former First Lady documented, in great detail, her decade-long experience of verbal and emotional abuse by Jagdeo.
She said that during their marriage she was not allowed to work and did not receive proper maintenance or care, financial or otherwise.
The Office of the First Lady was one she dubbed a “myth.”
She had stated that she and Jagdeo had a “deal” before getting married that they would work together, to move Guyana forward, but that never happened.
Singh had spoken of her non-profit Kids First Fund being sabotaged, often by her ex-husband. The charity was one used to raise funds for medical care for poor Guyanese children.
“He found my work embarrassing and me annoying. The First Ladies of every country in the world, when they are helpful, are treated with respect and are given the full backing of their husbands and the nation.”
Singh said she had been isolated and alone for two years.
“If I wasn’t home by 6:00pm, the apartment door would be locked with a latch from the inside so my key could not open it…When I was locked out, I would have to spend the night on the sofa on the first floor without a sheet, praying for the night to end quickly,” Singh said.
The former First Lady had spoken of having been sabotaged over and over: being denied money and support to run her charity and being denied rights to buy land to start a low-cost specialist hospital for the country.
“Although my work is done with total commitment, fairness and honesty for the benefit of others, it irritated my husband a lot.
“I used my fancy job title to advocate for those who had been taken advantage of and needed help, the voiceless, poor people, regardless of race, religion or political affiliation.”
She had said that this was the first country where the First Lady was “proactive, doing good for the nation but gets penalised because her husband is President and finds her work to help the same people he swore to defend and represent as ”showing up the inadequacies of his government” and therefore made me his enemy.”
The former First Lady had not alleged physical abuse. She claimed that Jagdeo had decided that to punish her, “he would withhold all resources, financial and otherwise and line my path with a multitude of cruel, selfish obstacles.”
“It is funny and sad to hear the politicians talk about the campaign against domestic violence, investing millions to “stamp it out” etc when what I am experiencing is hi-tech domestic violence and persecution.
“Our (then) President is using his office and state resources, including Ministers unprofessionally, to disadvantage a woman.”
“I have been deprived of the basics for many years, my food is taken care of by my Aunt who has a shop. My clothing, money and everything else is from my parents and family,” she had said.
She said, later, that attempts to gain independence “would somehow eventually need his approval on the business front. On the job front, I was told that no one would employ me for fear of backlash from our President.”
The former First lady had said that she applied for 31.4 acres of land at Moraikobai to develop a hospital and complex offering a number of benefits which she had offered to buy from the Government.
“But I was told by the President that he can’t sell state land. We asked for a 99-year lease, but he said he can only give 25-year lease.”
This is in stark contrast to prime land that was given for controversial projects in more recent years.
When information was made public about the extent to which the then Head of State had reportedly ill-treated his wife, Kaieteur News had sought comments on the issue from senior female government officials.
None of them would comment. Six years later, none of the female government Minister would even say word about Jagdeo’s wife abuse.
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