In the desert of despair
February 15, 2021
New CEBM Chair
February 15, 2021

‘We need a conversion of heart’

Archbishop Gordon addresses the gathering.

Archbishop Jason Gordon has commented on the “culture of violence” seen in the violence against women in society.

He referred to the recent  murder of Andrea Bharatt and the deaths of two suspects while in police custody.

Bharatt, a 23-year-old clerk at the Arima Magistrates’ Court went missing on January 29.  Her body was found February 4 in the forest off Aripo Road, Sangre Grande. Her death sparked candlelight vigils, demonstrations calling for women to be protected against violence and the authorities to act. Last rites took place February 12.

Speaking after the morning Mass at Archbishop’s House Chapel Wednesday, February 10, Archbishop Gordon noted the “state of turmoil” experienced in the country over Bharatt’s murder. He said it was a “tipping point” and will define the nation going forward. “So many people that believe this is enough.”

Archbishop Gordon called the violence against women “unacceptable” and a “scourge” on all. He however stated that violence was something being witnessed for a long time, in the home with domestic violence, in the way people spoke to each other in the street and in the workplace.

“There is really this culture of violence in our speech, in our way of being; that is really part of Trinidad and Tobago that comes from the heart and we need a conversion of heart.”

Bharatt’s murder inflamed minds, imagination, and hearts because it was “so senseless”. Archbishop Gordon expressed sorrow and sympathy for her family and those close to her. His sympathy also extended to the nation which has lost something precious.

“We’ve lost another daughter, another woman, another person who has given themselves to this nation,” he said.

Archbishop Gordon highlighted another concern; the deaths of 36-year-old Joel Balcon and 35-year-old Andrew Morris. Autopsies for both revealed physical injuries. “…there are questions as a country we have to ask. The fact that two people went into police custody and died in police custody is not something we are hearing too much about and I find that absolutely alarming and that too is part of the violence in our society.”

He recalled information put out in the public domain about the suspects. He however added, “that does not make it right for them to die and for us not to lament their death, because each human being, regardless of what they have done, have equal dignity.”

“You see it is the same thinking of ‘hang them and hang them high’ that is feeding our complicity and our complacency with the fact that two people go into custody and die. Violence against humanity is violence against humanity regardless of where that violence is put.”

He cautioned about the effects of quiet complicity “in allowing this kind of activity by the officials” and the need for accountability because tomorrow, “it might be you or your children or your children’s children.”

Even as the nation mourns the loss of Bharatt, the questions about how the men died and what is being done about it had to be asked.

Archbishop Gordon said, “We are becoming a kind of callous nation and that is in the heart, that is from the heart and I don’t want to see us as that kind of nation. We have to guard ourselves very, very carefully this time. Don’t let the grief and the anger blind us against from other places where violence may be happening.”