Even in my own grief having lost my husband last month, I wept today for a young lady who went missing a few days ago and whose body was found today behind boxes in a busy store in the heart of town. An apparently sheltered twenty year old with her life before her who recently started to work in a major bank and who had called her mother on Monday afternoon to say that she was going to Pennywise and IAM Company before coming home is no longer alive. Her Pennywise bags and a shoe were found before she was. The story apart from being tragic, is smattered with anecdotes of how she was found, where she was found and what had been done to her body before being dumped.
It's a tragic story and one that, for all the four hundred plus murders that have taken place on this tiny island this year, seems to have hit home more than most. We ignore gangland killings. We ignore disappearances - talking behind closed doors and not so closed doors, of human trafficking, family revenges, gang related revenges. Even though it's very wrong, we seem to take those in our stride.
So why has this particular murder been the subject of so many threads on social media? So many conversations? Such anger? A population coming together in a unified outrage? The answer is 'women'. Whilst men are also outraged (my driver this evening was beside himself with anger) young women and not so young women have come together and continue to come together in solidarity over this terrible, terrible murder. Many of the women we know - mothers, daughters, sisters, aunts... walk the streets of Port of Spain before work, during the day, popping out for lunch, rushing to Pennywise because goods are cheaper there than in the Malls without a thought for their safety. They stop off at vendors in Charlotte Street to pick up fruit and vegetables, pop into the odd shop as a dress or a top catches their eye and then the Chinese supermarket for a cold drink and something to munch on as they make their way back to the office. Although we have been saying for a long time that nowhere in Trinidad, not even one's own home is safe, I believe the events of today hit home for many women especially those who work in Port of Spain.
I believe there is to be a silent demonstration tomorrow at the bottom of Charlotte Street. If I could be with them I would be but I know plenty of young women who have pledged to take part. Women from all walks of life. Women from all professions. Women who have had enough. It is time for women to step up and call for a solution. When women en masse are angry it's time to watch out. I sincerely hope this is not a nine day wonder. I sincerely hope that this is the straw that breaks the camel's back. Maybe, just maybe Shannon Banfield's grotesque murder has made women angry enough to call out the necessary authorities; to make them act and to make them understand that women are not second class citizens and that they are entitled to walk the streets without fear, get into taxis without wondering whether or not they will make it to their destinations and be able to walk past a group of men without being harassed and hassled, never mind attacked or murdered.
This candle is for Shannon. May she rest in eternal peace and may perpetual light shine upon her. May her family be comforted and may the women of Trinidad and Tobago come together as one, remain together as one and make a great deal of noise as one. So much noise that the sound cannot be ignored. Let this not be a nine day wonder - let us use the loss of this innocent young woman to make our voices heard. Only in unity can we make others listen. Only in unity can we make a difference. Let those of us who are outraged today keep up the fight to stem the violence.
Shannon, soar with angels.