Wednesday 15 July, 2020

Kamla demands apology over controversial sari skit

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar is condemning the “insult” and “abuse” to Afro-Trinbago males, women and in particular, Hindu women, following the sari skit which was performed at the People’s National Movement’s (PNM) family day on Sunday.

The skit has come for heavy criticism by members of the public.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, Persad-Bissessar said she is not surprised as she herself has been subject to inappropriate and often “vile” personal attacks in her over 30 years in politics based on her gender.
She said, however, that she was shocked and appalled by the incident.

“It is not the first time Dr Rowley and/or senior members of his Government have been accused of blatant sexism and misogyny so their continued assault on the women of this country, which was clearly depicted in their ‘skit’, was expected, though none the less repugnant. But that is the track record of Dr Rowley; he has continuously made derogatory statements against women and is apparently proud of this fact since he appears intent on wearing this disgusting trait as his personal badge of honour.”

Persad-Bissessar criticised National Security Minister Stuart Young for labelling the skit “a bit of fun” as she said it offended Afro-Trinidadian men, women and Hindus in general.

She further demanded an apology for the Hindu community.

“You see, that so-called “fun skit”, if I am to quote the Minister of National Security, Stuart Young, himself, constitutes a direct assault on the sacred beliefs of the Hindus; it actually depicts a very sacred scene from the holy Mahabharata text, and whether this was deliberately done or not, the fact remains that it now warrants an immediate apology, because it amounts to a violation of our Constitutional right to freedom of religious worship.”

She also accused the PNM of demoralizing African men as she said the skit depicts an unwarranted and dangerous propagation of the negative, vile and offensive stereotyping that Afro Trinidadian males have had to endure since the days of slavery and colonialism against their appearance.

“In the PNM’s Family Day, this offensive stereotype was perpetuated by depicting them in Gorilla costumes perpetuating a vile criminal act of assault against women, thus reinforcing this age-old negative and dangerous racial stereotype. The question which arises is, had the UNC portrayed a skit depicting male PNM supporters as apes, would that be "fun"? The answer would be NO; under no circumstances would this be funny. The only ones who find this fun are Stuart Young and the one percent PNM financiers who seem to have no respect for their own supporters, far less the wider public.”

In light of this, Persad-Bissessar said the skit was unforgivable and called on Dr Rowley to take responsibility for the act.

“When he took the Oath of Office as an MP and specifically a Prime Minister of our democratic nation, Dr Rowley swore to uphold, as a matter of duty and law, the Constitution of this country. This Constitution guarantees the right of all citizens to live, worship and practice their beliefs in freedom, equality, justice and without fear of Government sanctioned discrimination.”

She accused Dr Rowley of sowing the seeds of division and tension in T&T and added that he has a moral right to address the situation at hand.  


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