Guyana: ‘Enough is enough!’ –professional women condemn attack on GECOM Chair as cowardly, ‘nasty’ and ‘misogynistic’

GECOM Chairperson, Justice Claudette Singh
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By Guyana Chronicle

SEVERAL prominent women in varying sectors across Guyana have deemed the attack on Chairperson of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) Justice Claudette Singh as an attack against all women of Guyana.

Director of the Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission Dawn Adriane Holder-Cush

On Saturday, a full-page advertisement was published on Page 12 of the Kaieteur News newspaper. The advertisement began with the headline, “What law is Claudette Singh really following?” and goes on to attack the integrity of the decisions she’s made pertaining to the holding of the 2020 General and Regional Elections. The advertisement also question whether the chairwoman is “complicit in the shenanigans at GECOM”, and is “one of the ‘forces’ against a free and impartial outcome of the electoral process”.

Only a few weeks ago, a death threat was sent Justice Singh and other GECOM officials via the website, ‘Anonymous Guyana’. According to reports, by April 20, when the threat was reported to the police and the cybercrime unit, the website had so far raised US$15,000 to pay for Justice Singh’s assassination.
Following the publishing of the Kaieteur News ‘ad’, STEMGuyana Co-Founder, Karen Abrams spoke out against what she felt was an attack against women.

STEM Guyana Co-Founder, Karen Abrams

Abrams highlighted that she doesn’t know the retired judge personally, but that she is well aware of how competent any woman has to be to navigate the professional world in Guyana, due to the challenges, abuse, barriers, and disrespect that is pervasive. The ‘tech-woman’ also noted a similar attack on the First Lady, Mrs. Sandra Granger just a few weeks ago.

“I have remained silent as the major, and minor, parties fight over what they believe is rightfully theirs, but I refuse to witness attacks on women, and allow fear of reprisal to silence me,” Abrams wrote on her Facebook page. “Have your nasty fights over power, if you must,” she said, “but desist from attacking the women of Guyana!”

Director of the Competition and Consumer Affairs Commission and former magistrate Dawn Adriane Holder-Cush also wrote that she knew Justice Singh to be “a strong, brilliant woman with class and dignity.”

UG Senior Lecturer, Dr. Melissa Ifill

And, the Director affirmed, “To attack her integrity, as appeared in the Kaieteur News, first of all, is an attack on women.”

This advertisement, Holder-Cush explained, is indicative of the false sense of superiority that the person who wrote or compiled the attack has. In fact, according to her, the author feels threatened, and attacks the woman because he or she wishes to possess the qualities of the retired judge.

“The day of reckoning is coming, when he will be fully exposed and disappear from the political landscape,” she wrote.

General Manager (ag.) and Administrative Manager of the Guyana National Newspapers Limited (GNNL), Donna Todd, who also weighed in on the matter, said: “I have been saying that any violence against any woman in Guyana is an attack on every woman.”

According to her, while professional Guyanese women have been coming under regular attack of late in the public sphere, there may be many others who are also being attacked, but silently.

“This has to stop!” Todd said.

Respected University of Guyana (UG) lecturer, Dr. Melissa Ifill also spoke out against the attack at the level of GECOM officials, and even highlighted that this attack is part of a wider series of attacks on women during the ongoing electoral process.

“I have noted the misogynistic attack on women involved in this electoral process, especially women involved in GECOM,” Dr. Ifill said. “The attacks have focused on their appearance, commented on their families, utilising vile and sickening references to their sexuality, and assumed sexual practices. Their lives have all been openly and graphically threatened,” she wrote on her Facebook page.

Noting that the position of GECOM Chair is a highly-contentious one, given the reality of ethnic and political conflicts in Guyana, Dr. Ifill said, “The treatment of Claudette Singh, though, goes beyond anything I’ve seen or heard since 1992. And I know that it is, in large part, connected to her gender.”

In Dr. Ifill’s opinion, the GECOM Chair has not demonstrated any particular partiality.

“Proud of her for taking decisions that she believes are right, particularly since she’s clearly aware of the repercussions from the supporters of both sides for doing so,” Dr. Ifill wrote.

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