MSJ deputy political leader Radhaka Gulbance addresses the death of Andrea Bharatt and many others during a press conference at the party’s office on Lord Street, San Fernando.

As the country continues to battle with gender-based violence, Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) deputy political leader Radhaka Gulbance says that to end violence against women, society must address the issues facing men.

At an MSJ media conference at the San Fernando office yesterday, the party extended condolences to the family of Andrea Bharatt, acknowledging that her murder was one of several violent deaths suffered by women in recent times.

Gulbance said it was time for the government to step up and protect citizens and called on the Ministry of Social Development and Family Services (MSDFS) to do its parts in helping men. She said the ministry needs to work with employers, religious organisations and Non-Governmental Organisations to reach out to our men.

“Our men are hurting. If we have to do more to protect our women and children, we have to fix the problems our men are facing. And we know that men have this ego, that you cannot cry, that you have to be macho so when you’re with a group of men at the side of the road, you have to say the nastiest things to women passing, then you are a real man,” Gulbance said.

She said men must speak out when they need help. They should also be free to cry about their pain rather than acting it out.

It was one of several recommendations the MSJ made, including a demand for the government to give PH taxi drivers and owners three months to transfer their vehicles to register as taxis with the Licensing Authority.

She said that when a vehicle’s registration number is beginning with “H” there is an implied trust, so people board it as a registered taxi. However, she said the issue now is that anyone can issue a registration plate. She said the government must manage who can issue registration plates, especially as there is an opportunity for the State to implant microchips. This way, law enforcement can track and identify vehicles as part of its crime-fighting approach.

Noting the several kidnappings took place after people board PH taxis, Gulbance said many people have to travel to and from work during very early or late hours. Therefore, she said, it was the government’s responsibility to provide safe and reliable transport.

“It is time that PH drivers go and do the right thing. Get it licensed. We are asking the government to give them three months to get their act together or else there must be serious changes and fines for someone plying a PH.”

As a former teacher, Gulbance said behavioural traits are detectable during childhood years. However, teachers were not equipped with the training to correct errant behaviours, and Gulbance said schools are without much-needed guidance officers and social workers. She wants the MSDFS and the Ministry of Education to collaborate and deal with these problems before children begin committing crimes. The MSJ also wants the Commissioner of Police to mandate officers to walk through communities and engage with members and mentor the youth.

MSJ political leader David Abdulah reiterated the party’s education policy to extend the hours of schools. Abdulah said post-COVID-19, students should use the hours of 2.30 pm-4.30 pm to engage in co-curricular activities such as drama, dance, art or sports. He said getting boys into these programmes provides an opportunity for mentorship to ensure they are disciplined and respectful. With abuse of women being a growing issue, he said sex education in schools, which also focus on how men should treat women is necessary. He said entertainers, public relations and advertising firms must ensure their works do not objectify women.