Understanding the Law
December 20, 2013
Change the path to a better life

I am still alarmed and saddened by the crimes that are committed in our beloved SVG. The weekend newspaper reported two incidents of setting persons on fire. This action constitutes a vicious assault on a human being. In the two separate incidents, women were the perpetrators. One doused her common law husband with rum and set him on fire; the other, after a quarrel with another women, doused her with rum and set her on fire. In the first case the prosecutor disclosed that the victim was in serious condition. In the second case the victim survived first-degree burns. Copycat? Walking around with rum and matches to use as weapons.{{more}}

Women in crimes

I am disappointed that our womenfolk have taken to such cruelty. Women have traditionally been known for that maternal instinct to love and protect. They are generally calm, cool and collected and not given to criminal activities. The female prison facility is far less populated than the male facilities. But I am seeing a new trend. You would recall the incident in the courtyard earlier this year, where women were actively involved in the tussle with the police.

Cruel and inhuman treatment

Setting a person on fire is a criminal act, which constitutes cruel and inhuman treatment. The victim could die or if he lives will carry around scars for the rest of his or her life. We set trash on fire, not human beings, so this behaviour must be nipped in the bud. Anyone who walks around with rum and matches must not only have a depraved mind, but must have the intention of using them as weapons. This behaviour essentially adds a different dimension to criminal activity, because while the police might be looking for guns and ammunition they do not look for rum and matches.

Yield not to temptation

We have to discipline ourselves, not yield to temptation. We should not let anger overwhelm our being, so that we are prone to violent reaction. We have to learn to reason and not act in haste. There are situations that require urgent attention, but reacting hastily to anger brings regret.

We have to be calm in the face of adversity. Anger is a strong emotion, which, if given free rein, could consume us and destroy others. Let us resolve to suppress our anger and walk away from trouble. Remember that the people around you are your brothers and sisters, friends and compatriots. Treat them with all the respect that they deserve. They feel the same pain as you do. They have to endure the challenges of making a living as you do. They make a worthy contribution in providing services that benefit everyone.

Message of love

The Christmas season is upon us and its message of peace and love will envelope you, if you embrace it. Life is stressful and the stressors often have lasting impact upon our psyche. It is hard to shrug them off. Think about others around you who might be carrying heavier burdens. Don’t let your difficult experience cloud your vision and your attitude to human beings. Do not be suspicious of your neighbour. Forgive for past behaviour. Ponder on the meaning of Christmas and do not get wrapped up in the glitter. Extend a hand, open your heart, love one another and let the spirit of Christmas embrace you. I wish you a blessed Christmas that is filled with joy, love, happiness and all the good things that life can bring.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law.

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