Hafeeza Rohoman was murdered by her husband in Mahaica. Lakeram Harrinaraine pleaded guilty and Justice Jo-Ann Barlow did and said something that if the victim were related to me, I would have petitioned the Judicial Service Commission to remove her.
Surely, this murdered woman must have a family and relatives that can petition the court to remove Ms. Barlow. She took off one third of the sentence after a guilty plea was accepted because according to the judge, he didn’t waste the court’s time.
I will discuss below the connection between light sentences for heinous, violent homicidal crimes because of not wasting the court’s time.
Justice Barlow then offered another reason for her 15 year sentence (a year is nine months in judicial terms). She said she took into consideration that he was younger than the woman and therefore the woman would be more aggressive. Justice Barlow has turned Niccolò Machiavelli on his head.
The famous 15th century Italian philosopher wrote that older women prefer younger men because younger men are more aggressive. Barlow concluded the opposite. Barlow concluded that since Rohoman was older than Harrinaine, she was the more aggressive partner.
Both Machiavelli and Justice Barlow spoke subjectively. There is no theory to support Machiavelli or the Guyanese judge. I know of no theory in psychology that postulates that when a woman has a younger lover, the female tend to be more aggressive in the relationship.
If in the trial, no psychologist testified to what Barlow pronounced on, then I think Barlow has to explain her conduct. It must be remembered her perspective on woman-man relations was a factor in arriving at her sentence. So he did not waste the court’s time and she being older than him was the more aggressive partner so he will only serve under 13 years for killing this lady.
Rapists are given harsh sentences by the same judge and others judges on the bench but once you kill, no matter how heinous, once you do not waste the court’s time through your guilty verdict, your punishment will not be harsh. I know a politician’s son that got 45 consecutive years for vaginal insertion by finger of an underage girl. I wrote about that twice.
The murder of women by their spouses and lovers is out of control in Guyana. At the time of writing, there is a campaign by Giftland Mall against domestic abuse. Not a month passes and a woman isn’t violently brutalised or killed by lover or spouses in this tragic land.
In the midst of this carnage, a High Court judge in delivering her verdict on a man who killed his wife said that she took into consideration that the wife was older in age and therefore more aggressive. I have been an academic since I was 24, and I have never read about such a concept. Can Justice Barlow please explain where she got the theory from?
Will there be a reaction from our women groups? The answer is no. Rohoman is gone and forgotten. No one will highlight what happened to her. And you know why? Poor Hafeeza. She was just an ordinary, unemployed woman. She didn’t have class and colour. Our women rights groups are all middle class outfits.
If you wanted to see the middle class mentality of these groups, you had to attend the day of appreciation for the death of Andaiye at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre. It was something to behold, hosted by women group, Red Thread.
If Justice Barlow had said those words about a murdered middle class woman, all hell would have broken loose. I haven’t done the research but I cannot recall any picket exercise or demonstration for a working class woman whose relatives were not given justice by the courts. I am subject to correction but my memory informs me that there has been none.
What about the millions of human rights groups that Guyana has? Will any of them come forward and demand an explanation from Justice Barlow. But wait a minute! This is the right time for political parties to question the decision of Ms. Barlow. They are begging for votes in the upcoming elections.
Which one of them jumps first and comments on both the verdict and the theory of Justice Barlow might start their campaign with an advantage. They may get the votes of our women folks. What do you think?
Of the fifteen political parties, we have in this land, which one will question what happened in Justice Barlow’s court? Of all the parties, the PNC has a deputy who is a woman, Volda Lawrence. Over to you Volda.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper)
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