AFETT Press Release on Gender Based Violence
P R E S S R E L E A S E
Over the past week many highly-charged conversations and articles as well as social action have been rooted in denunciations of misogyny and sexism culminating in a march to the office of the Mayor of Port of Spain. His worship the Mayor has also earned the unenviable status of public enemy #1 for February 2016 in Trinidad and Tobago and has had to endure the ignominy of being asked to resign for his irresponsible pronouncements in the wake of Ms. Nagakiya’s murder. Yet, in the midst of the outcry, we have unintentionally diverted the nation’s attention from arresting the perpetrator and the tragedy of violence against women, along with the ultimate sacrifice of a life which was smothered on that fateful day.
Notwithstanding all that has been said, the Association of Female Executives of Trinidad and Tobago (AFETT) deplores what has occurred and believes that the Mayor’s reckless statement provides the catalyst for a deeper discourse on women’s rights and violence against women. Discussions at a national level have been intermittent at best, whilst popular culture has encouraged disrespect to women in a society where such matters are too often covered up, unnoticed or ignored.
Much has already been said about the response. The nature and scope of the reaction (locally and abroad) to the pronouncement signal not only an awareness of the danger of this mentality but also a readiness to take action to save the society from its persistence. In order to move towards transforming our current laissez- faire approach to women’s rights into one of full respect for women, we must seek to understand and make known the extent of the problem and treat with the root causes of the proliferation of an ideology that holds a woman responsible for being a victim of violence. It is the same ideology that permits men and boys to make unwanted comments to women, on the verge of sexual harassment.
It must be appreciated that the problem at hand runs deeper than the Mayor’s display of insensitivity. A closer look reveals that the issue smacks of an undercurrent of a general lack of respect for women and the rights of women throughout the entire society. The reality of a man tying a rope around a woman’s neck and leading her like an animal, repeated incidents of public spousal abuse and gender discrimination all taking place unheeded are symptomatic of a serious problem that needs to be dealt with urgently.
Our nation’s leaders have a vital responsibility to ensure that the social fabric of our society is one that upholds humanity. At the very least they should lead by example and be held accountable. Their obligations include protecting, respecting and upholding people’s fundamental rights regardless of gender. We expect them to shape policies and programmes that engender similar, positive mindsets and behaviour throughout the society.
AFETT recommends that more be done at a national level through offering programmes in community centres, schools and workplaces to sensitize citizens about gender-based violence. Much more needs to be done in educating our boys and men to respect humanity with regard to women. Both men and women need to be involved in encouraging an institutional configuration that purposefully and systematically addresses the problem of gender-based violence and disrespect. We remain available to assist and provide support to find lasting solutions to a recurring problem as we stand in solidarity with other NGOs and organizations in the bid to eradicate violence against women.