Women's Issues In Guyana

The boycott of the St Vincent Conference by Dr Peggy Antrobus and Andaiye was a significant example of affirmative action

Posted in Activism by wiig on March 26, 2008
Tags: , , ,

Stabroek News – March 26, 2008

Dear Editor,

Now, please do not quote me as saying that affirmative action is the solution to our problems, and then call me a Black Nationalist after that. Many have got away with this term “Black Nationalist”, which is really part of the contempt, or self- contempt, to be dealt with at a convenient time.

This is a short letter about affirmative action. Hence my introduction.

Two Caribbean women Dr Peggy Antrobus and Andaiye , well known in the Caribbean and beyond as woman activists and thinkers, took affirmative action recently. They boycotted a conference in St Vincent, a Caricom country where a police woman accused the leader of the government of rape. She was said to be a member of his special guard. It seems that the woman reported the matter to the proper police authorities. The leader, a Prime Minister, denied the accusation. The police decided to take no further action. It is an accusation of rape, not abusive language, that we are talking about. Few women report when they are raped. This one was willing to suffer the consequences and went to the police. No doubt she gave a statement.

The next steps should have followed. It should then have been left to trial in a court of law, not to the police. The woman had no chance to prove a case by direct or circumstantial evidence. I salute her and the women who stayed away from that dangerous atmosphere in solidarity with an unknown worker in uniform. I choose to call their action Affirmative Action. It is a good example for men and women at home and abroad.

The rights in the Constitution are meant for you, whether you are a supporter of the government or not. They are not for the opposition only, or for the government only, but for both and for others who support neither.

The people of Guyana who are crying out for their rights to be upheld, and I include myself, can attempt some changes even while “Rome burns”. We can write letters to defend the human rights of persons wherever they appear to be taken away, suspended or violated. There was too little, too narrow protest at the torture of Patrick Sumner and Victor Jones of Buxton. There was almost none at the tear smoking of mourners after Lusignan. That is why the GAP-ROAR letter on torture is so encouraging.

And we can do this civil defence in the case of individuals, whether they are of our race or not, female, or male, our trade union, our party, young or old.

The very act of refusing to allow other people to be violated will make it clear that no section of the population is prepared to tolerate the brutalising of another. This will be a form of affirmative action.

We can have human rights, or constitution groups all over with their own names and people can speak though these groups. O yes, we can all become human when there is a big tragedy. Peggy Antrobus and Andaiye set us a fine example.

I suppose they both would know the Prime Minister on a first name basis, sharing, before he became Prime Minister, They do not know the police woman, a worker in uniform. They took action in solidarity with her, with all women, with all workers, and with all underlings.

Road to be followed.

Yours faithfully,

Eusi Kwayana


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