Opposition Barbados Labour Party (BLP) candidate Ralph Thorne has accused Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite of attacking Barbadian women by suggesting that mothers and grandmothers had to take some of the blame for crime committed by the boys they raise.
Brathwaite reportedly told a St James South constituency branch meeting of the Democratic Labour Party (BLP) earlier this month that family values, along with the attitudes of mothers and grandmothers, were to blame for much of the criminal activity among young men.
However, addressing a BLP St James North branch meeting at the Weston Community Centre on Sunday, Thorne said the Attorney General’s intervention “has been as vile as the violent criminals who are attacking people in public”.
“The Attorney General [is now] attacking mothers and grandmothers in public. There is no less violence in that,” the attorney-at-law said.
“Young men are committing violent crime and an Attorney General’s analysis of the problem is to turn his own attack on mothers and grandmothers.”
Thorne argued that contrary to Brathwaite’s statements, the issue of increased criminal behaviour in Barbados was much more complex and deep rooted.
He noted that younger men, along with some women, were the most frequent criminal offenders, but stressed that “the problem that has developed and evolved over a period of 20 to 25 years cannot be solved overnight”.
The Queen’s Counsel said the upsurge in crime upsurge in Barbados – from a sociological structuralist theory perspective – was rooted in the current social conditions, including lack of educational and employment opportunities.
“People who are not given opportunities will express themselves by way of that anti-social behavior – crime,” Thorne said, although he was quick to add that it was not about giving excuses to criminals and criminal activity but offering explanations for crime.
“If you deprive a young man of a proper and sound education, he is likely to find himself a candidate for anti-social behaviour. He may not express it in violent criminal activity, but he will carry some resentment towards his society, that the institutions and the structures have excluded him and he does have equal access to those institutions . . . [that] opportunity is being denied him.”
Adding that the doors of the university have been “slammed shut on young people”, in clear reference to the decision taken by government to stop paying tuition fees for students at the University of the West Indies, Thorne said “the sons or the daughters of those single mothers that Brathwaite talked about, or those grandmothers, cannot afford to pay thousands of dollars to walk across Cave Hill [Campus] and sit down for three or four years, and that is a deprivation of what was once a right.”
Addressing the issue of unemployment, Thorne said the doors of the public sector as well as private sector businesses were also “closed to the young and not so young people in this country”. He said such situations fostered frustration.