American news has been finally focusing on the epidemic of domestic abuse, particularly in professional sports like football. It always brings to mind, for me, the abuse that Margarita, Anita Mahfood, suffered at the hand of her professional boxer husband Rudolph Bent before leaving him to enter a relationship much worse, the one with Don Drummond that would end in her death at his hand. This past week I traveled to Kingston where I combed through the Star Newspaper archives which are still in original form, never digitized or put on microfilm, and with white-gloved hands, turning the pages of the yellowed and crumbling bound editions of the newspaper, I came across the following article. I picture it here and have transcribed the text below and ask the following question for those who have claimed that Margarita liked the violence, and yes, there are those men who have even spoken publicly about this theory of theirs–tell me how a woman likes this? That is all I will say for fear of letting my anger toward such claims run away with me.
From The Star, Saturday, November 21, 1964
Chopped, hit, kicked by her boxer husband
Repeated beatings by Jamaican and British Honduran middleweight champion, Rudolph Adolphus Bent (now in America), of his dancer wife, led her to seek her freedom from him in the Divorce Court yesterday. The court heard her story, of a number of violent assaults in which the boxer’s fists were brought into play, in her undefended petition.
Petitioner was Anita Bent (nee Mahfood), who is Jamaica’s premier rhumba and interpretive dancer with the stage name of “Margarita.”
Mr. Justice Shelley granted her a decree nisi with costs against her husband. Custody of the two children of the marriage is to be decided in Chambers. Petitioner was represented by Mrs. Margaret Forde, Legal Clerk.
Mrs. Bent wept as she told the Court that her husband had forcibly taken away the children and transported them to his homeland, British Honduras where they now reside with his mother. Mrs. Forde said that respondent entered an appearance only with regard to their custody.
Petitioner said that they were married in St. Andrew on March 15, 1961, but were never happy as he gave her no monetary support and had too many girl friends. She gave her present address as 32 Coral Way, Harbour View.
She recounted some of the many assaults made on her by respondent. She said in June, 1961, he came home about 3 a.m. and when she spoke to him he told her, “Why don’t you take your pickney and go and leave me in peace?” Then he hit her with his fist in the right eye and on the mouth, which was cut and started bleeding. He grabbed her by the hair, opened the door and threw her outside. Next he threw their little daughter, Susie, after her.
She ran up Slipdock Road to a friend in her nightgown and found shelter. In July, 1961, they quarrelled over money and he said, “You want money. Well, you’re not getting any from me.” He twisted her arm and choked her.
In September, 1961, there was another row over money and a girl and he tore off her dress and punched her down on the bed. He put a pillow over her face and tried to suffocate her. Another boxer in the house came in and rescued her, she said. A further assault was committed in November, 1961, when he choked her and tore off her clothes. She then left him to live apart as she was afraid of him.
In February, 1962, he asked her to return to him and hen she said she would not, he dug his two fingers into her eyes, hit her on the chin with his elbow, chopped her on the side of the neck with his open right hand and kicked her down. This took place while she was alone in her father’s home.
After they returned living, in July, 1963, he dragged her by the hair, thumped her with his fist in the face and tore off her clothes. Her sister came to her rescue.
Fay Roberts, dressmaker of 2 Glasspole Avenue, gave evidence of the assault committed in June, 1961. She said she was at the Slipdock Road address when Mrs. Bent came screaming into the home with blood flowing from her mouth and her eye swollen. She was in her nightgown and was carrying her baby.
1 thought on “Margarita and Domestic Violence”
There are strong parallels between Margarita and jazz singers such as Billie Holiday and Nina Simone, who suffered tremendous abuse from their partners.
One hypothesis might be that Billie, Anita and Nina had suffered from physical and/or emotional abuse from early childhood onwards, and this caused them to gravitate (unconsciously perhaps) towards violent men, because they shared the father’s characteristics but might just be different this time around? They perhaps hoped that they could mould these violent, restless spirits into the men they wanted them to be; that they saw something within them that made them redeemable? It is understandable that Anita saw that in Don, even though she must have known from early on that he was a deeply troubled being.
Among the many heartbreaking facts about Anita’s life is how little time she got to spend with her children. How different would her life have been if she had been able to look after her kids instead of trying to look after Don?