WOMEN of a social justice group called “We the people,” joined with the women of the nation in solidarity on Friday by marching from the Queen’s Park Savannah to the Red House, to send a clear message to the men of TT: You have a problem and you have to fix it.
Chief among the protesters were the youth with some girls as young as 17 taking part in the march. They were joined by their parents, other older women and men.
Zara Gaskin, 17, said all violent deaths of women over the past year has affected her to the point where she does not feel safe in public.
“I cannot go to the Savannah, I cannot go anywhere, not even in my school uniform, without getting catcalled by grown men, sometimes even by police officers in uniform,” she said. Gaskin added that men just do not understand how a feeling of insecurity can impact the lives of women until something happens to a woman close to them.
“Unless it affects them personally, they are not going to advocate for it or even notice it. If it were their mother or their sister then they would take part. This whole week it was mostly women protesting. Where are the men? Why are they so silent?”
Isabella Edwards, 17, said that despite years of advocacy for respect and protection of women, things are not changing and societal attitudes are the same.
“Even in school, you would experience boys in school uniform catcalling girls. So no, I don’t think that the level of respect is growing. I think some men are trying but other men are just ignoring it,” Edwards said. She said boys need to be taught to respect women and that this teaching must be done both at home and in schools.
Vicar General of the Port of Spain Archdiocese, Fr Martin Sirju expressed pride that women, especially young women, have taken up the mantle to speak out against violence against females.
“One would notice that in many countries even when you look at the civil rights movement, it is really the young who came forward,” he said.
“Young people may not be coming to church but the Christian values are being embedded somewhere in their hearts. Because of that I think young people in particular are attracted to something concrete, something that they can participate in. So it is a very encouraging thing to see young people getting involved in these things.”
The march was one of hundreds staged all over the country in the wake of the kidnapping and murder of 23-year-old court clerk Andrea Bharatt.