Thursday 21 November, 2019

UNC demands apology to women over 'vulgar' PNM sari skit

The United National Congress (UNC) has taken issue with what it views as the promotion of misogyny and religious insensitivity by the ruling People’s National Movement (PNM), following a skit at the party’s family day in which a yellow sari was unraveled from a woman by men dressed in red costumes.

UNC Chairman David Lee said the PNM sunk to an all-time low with the “offensive” skit, which he labelled a reflection of the “level of moral and ethical decay which is plaguing the government”.

He questioned how individuals who have offered themselves to serve, protect and develop Trinidad and Tobago could find joy in the portrayal of abuse towards a woman, especially at a time when the nation is battling a “crisis” of numerous cases of harm, violence and crime against women.

The UNC Chairman further questioned whether the ruling party is encouraging its members to disrespect and attack women who have different political views.

“Is the Prime Minister calling on his membership to act violently towards the Leader of the Opposition and her female Members of Parliament as well as supporters?"

Lee said it was shameful that while world leaders are engaged in activities to uplift women, and provide a safe environment, the Cabinet was clapping for a skit which shows acts of violence towards a woman.

He said the skit not only discriminated against women, but was equally offensive to members of the Hindu community and reflected insensitivity towards the religious sect as it was a mockery of one of the sacred scriptures; the disrobing of Draupadi as told in the Mahabharata.

Suggesting that it may have been attempt to depict how the PNM will politically disrobe the UNC leader, Lee drew a parallel to what he deemed to be unethical political attacks against the Leader of the Opposition, saying that as with Draupadi Kamla Persad-Bissessar will always persevere due to her compassion, vision and sincerity.

The UNC Chairman called on the Prime Minister to apologise to the women of Trinidad and Tobago in his capacity as leader of the PNM, noting that he has made statements offensive to females in the past.

Echoing his sentiments was Couva North MP Ramona Ramdial who spoke on the matter in her capacity as a Hindu woman.  

Calling the skit “quite insulting and offensive” she said the situation was made worse by PNM PRO Stuart Young’s defense of the entertainment saying they were having "a little fun" and it in no way should be taken as an attack on the Hindu community or on women in general.

“There is absolutely no racial or religious hatred in the People’s National Movement (PNM), if you look right now at what is representative of the PNM, you may not have seen that before. That yesterday was a bit of fun taking place.”

“We’ll continue to say and we live it in the People’s National Movement every creed and race finds an equal place in the People’s National Movement and may God continue to bless our nation,” Young said.

Ramdial slammed Young’s statements stating that they showed his ignorance and disrespect of the religious beliefs of Hindus.

She explained that portraying the disrobing of the sari off the body of Draupadi the PNM was essentially promoting and defending the act which mirrors present day society and how accepting the nation is of abuse and violence against women.

“When we have leaders allowing and defending actions meant to offend and insult all women then we are sending a message to our children that it is okay for our women to be abused and disrespected.

Sadly the citizens of T&T should not expect much from the Keith Rowley government when it comes to protecting our women against abuse and domestic violence.”

The Couva North MP said she continues to see misogyny, intolerance, disrespect and arrogance propagated by the ignorant PNM leadership.

She called on the Prime Minister to apologise to the Hindu community and all women of Trinidad and Tobago for allowing the party he leads to “choose aspects of the Hindu religion depicted through a skit to score cheap political points and to attack and disrespect all women in our nation”.

Meanwhile, former minister of transport under the People’s Partnership (PP) Devant Maharaj has loded a formal complaint with the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) in relation to the “vulgar” skit.

He called on the Chairman of the EOC, Lynette Seebaran-Suite, to investigate the apparent breaches of the Equal Opportunities Act by the PNM skit at the sports and family day.

“In a plural society such as Trinidad and Tobago such expressions of hate and ridicule should not be accepted by the population” he said.


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