Posted: Friday, May 13, 2022. 11:14 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: Five of Nora Parham’s surviving sons were at the House of Representatives this morning to see the beginning of their mother’s exoneration.
Their overwhelming emotion, says eldest son Harold Parham, known as Harry, is “great relief” that the historical record will finally be corrected: “I must say we are happy, we are relieved, and knowing that even the government, at the level of Cabinet, recognizes what we know from the beginning was true. Now it comes out and it comes out the way we really wanted it to come out. We have said all the time… when we heard about a posthumous pardon, in the beginning, I shook my head and said that is not what we want. What we want is [the] exoneration of her character…”
It also changes the historical view of their late mother, he continued: “We see this as whenever the general public looks at this now; they will look at her with a different frame of mind. They will recognize themselves that what was done was a grave injustice; not only in her life being abused but also that she was dished out an injustice in the courts.”
From his review of the courthouse records, Parham says none of the men deciding Nora’s fate truly took time to listen to her and exhibited clear bias, from discounting the testimony of Nora’s defenders to the statements used in court. The 12-member all-male jury came from the civil servant class and could not fathom what a poor woman like Nora was going through, Parham suggested.
And the injustice continued even after Nora’s death when well-meaning family members separated the eight boys she left behind: four stayed with relatives in Punta Gorda, where Nora was originally from; three went to San Ignacio Town and the other to the United States. According to Harold, “Because of the situation with communication in the country it was difficult for us to meet with the ones in San Ignacio; it wasn’t until the Southern Highway was constructed that it was possible for us to get together more often.” (He noted that the fastest and most reliable means of transport to the South then was by boat).
The boys that stayed in Belize did not meet each other again until ten years after Nora’s death, and the brother in the United States finally came back home about six years ago. Harold acknowledges that they knew they were brothers, but “it was almost like strangers” when they met. Time has thankfully healed that wound.
Nora’s fate was not regularly discussed among family members, though friends of the boys and their children would bring it up on occasion – something Harold says he doesn’t blame anyone for because that was the perception at the time. But the boys were made to understand that the State had made a “mistake” – although Harold admits to some anger with the State for failing to save Nora in the interest of justice.
Now, says Minister of Human Development Dolores Balderamos-Garcia, Belize must further “shine the spotlight” on domestic violence, root out the perpetrators, and shelter the victims: “It is a constant struggle, it is not something that would be easy to bring down but we must keep up the struggle. What is encouraging today, is that we are shining the light on it in such a way that victims are feeling more comfortable [coming] forward; there is much more awareness; we have gender advocates in communities now, supported by our Ministry. And I think that with the level of awareness that this occasion will help to bring about, we will be going a step in the right direction.”
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