Narrow escape!
Marcelle Williams 'played dead', now she wants a chance to live By Miranda La Rose
Stabroek News
May 12, 2002

Related Links: Articles on people
Letters Menu Archival Menu

A 28-year-old housewife, a victim of domestic abuse, due to graduate shortly from a non-traditional skills training programme might have to miss the ceremony she dreamt of, because she fears for her life.

Marcelle Williams, a mother of three children, aged eight, seven and one year and six months, of Westbury, Essequibo Coast, said she was alive today because she "play dead" but she lost her right hand and arm when a relative chopped her about the body. Close relatives of the abuser now want her to drop charges against him because he is a bread-winner. Initially, her abuser had been remanded to prison without bail until the hearing, due to come up this month.

In a telephone interview, Williams related her narrow escape from death during the wee hours of Sunday, March 24. She said that about 3:00 am the relative arrived home while she was nursing her baby. "To be honest, I was annoyed at the hour he was coming home and I did not get up to open the door for him to get into the house. But he climbed in through the window."

He opened the door and placed his bicycle in the house all the while using indecent language. She said that she did not get up but continued nursing the baby in bed at the same time "answering him". He asked her to take out his dinner and she did not. However, he dished out his own food and he continued to "curse about my mother this and my mother that."

Williams said she asked what about his mother. "With that he put down he food and rush in and said I gun show you something. You playing you powerful."

She said he started to run out of the house saying he was coming back, but in the "the rage he ran out he break a switch and the light in the house went off. He fell down and I realise that when he get up he would knock me. So I raise up the netting and left the baby. I opened a window in the bedroom and I jumped right out of the house."

She said that she ran around the house to get to a bridge leading to her sister's house next door. But at that point the light in the house came on and the relative opened the door. She said she began to scold him about his behaviour at three in the morning. He had already changed his clothes and was wearing a black shorts and she could have seen that he had a cutlass in his possession.

She said he told her to get back into the house and she said that he was powerful not her. "He asked me if I want a cutlass and I say no. He ask me if I want a knife... if I don't want to fight. With that I see he coming down the step. I started running and he start running behind me. I run to my sister's house and called for her. She run and open the door. By the time I could reach inside and my sister tried closing the door he was already there, too, and he forced himself in.

"I ran into her children's bedroom. I tried to come out back when I realised it was the children's bedroom to get to where her husband was sleeping but did not make it and he catch me and fired a chop. I used my right hand to bar the chop and it almost came off. He continued to fire chops and I ran behind a blind to try to shade myself from the chops but he continued to fire chops. As soon as I could I escaped under the children's bed. He came in the bedroom behind me and started firing chops under the bed. I was screaming. My sister had a tub under the bed. I pulled the tub in front of me so the tub ended up getting most of the chops. The more I screamed, the more he chopped. I decided to keep quiet and pretended to be dead. When I stopped screaming he stopped chopping and walked out of the house."

She said that when he was leaving the house, she heard him say: "You all could carry she whey all you want." All the while, she said, her sister was screaming and her husband who had awakened disoriented wanted to know "Why all the noise?" Her sister answered that "... chop and kill she [Marcelle]." Her sister then left to call other relatives and when Marcelle thought it was safe she called her brother-in-law's name. She told him where she was because she could no longer move and he took her out and put her to lie down. Another sister who had arrived shortly after tied her chopped hand with a cloth and together with other relatives they took her to the hospital. On the way to the hospital they stopped at the Anna Regina Police Station where her two sisters made a report and a policeman who saw her told them to take her to the hospital.

The hospital, she said, was another tragic story. She was given nothing but painkillers until the next day when her family "pushed like hell to get me to the Georgetown Public Hospital," where her hand, which had been hanging by the skin, was completely severed.

Williams said that four days later when her mother informed the police that she had lost her hand the police arrested the relative. Two weeks later a policeman went to the Georgetown Public Hospital and informed her that the relative was passed through the court and remanded to prison without bail until May 27.

Since her discharge from the hospital, Williams said, she was anxious to go back to continue the programme but had been informed that the relative had been released on $300,000 bail. The granting of bail was confirmed by the Charity Police Station, but they were unable to say who granted the bail.

Williams said that while she was in hospital, the relative's father went to see her and told her that she was the only person who could help him to get out of remand prison on bail. She said she was asked to consider it, as he had to care for three children and a wife. She said that one of his sisters also visited her at the hospital to pray that she, Williams, would make the right decision.

At the time of the altercation, which took place on March 24, Williams was one of 65 women, ages ranging from 18 to 51 from the Essequibo Coast, attending training sessions in an Inter-American Development Bank-funded non traditional skills training programme for low income women being conducted by the Institute of Distance and Continuing Education (IDCE) at the Essequibo Technical Institute on the Essequibo Coast.

National Coordinator of the programme, Glenyss James, in a telephone conversation told Stabroek News that in similar programmes conducted in Linden and Georgetown, sessions on gender issues and life-coping skills were conducted by Red Thread to prepare the women for a work environment previously traditionally dominated by men. Some counselling was also done to deal with matters such as domestic abuse, as well.

The women are trained in carpentry, masonry and electrical installation. Some of the items they produce include metal and wooden chairs, clothes horses, stools and reading lamps. Masonry students concentrate their efforts on block-making and construction.

Williams began the programme in December along with the other students and had been doing very well. She said that before the programme started she had begun numeracy and literacy classes with the IDCE because she had wanted to learn a skill and get a job.

According to her she enjoyed the programme and has completed the basics but has been unable to take up her work-study attachment because she was afraid of going on the road because her abuser "has been freed on bail". She still hopes that even though she has lost her right hand all is not lost and that she would be able to be gainfully employed.

A sister of hers, who is also on the programme, has also assisted her in completing the basic in the first part of the programme.