Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) deputy political leader Dr Faith BYisrael says while she supports the use of pepper spray as a mechanism to protect vulnerable women, the issues surrounding violence requires a holistic approach.
Attorney General Faris Al Rawi speaking on a PNM platform in Belmont last week said the National Security Council had approved the use of pepper spray and other non-lethal devices.
Al Rawi said he has already drafted law, on the direction of the Prime Minister and National Security Minister Stuart Young, who sought advice from experts on implementing the policy. On Friday, the Prime Minister said in Parliament the Cabinet would consider the AG’s proposed regulations but noted the use of pepper spray would require a permit.
There have been renewed calls for the use of pepper spray and other non-lethal devices to be legalised in the wake of the murder of Andrea Bharatt.
The 23-year-old court clerk, who was kidnapped on January 29, was cremated on Friday after a funeral at Faith Assembly, Arouca. Her murder triggered an almost nationwide movement against crime and particularly violence against women.
BYisrael said, "The use of pepper spray is one mechanism that can be used to protect women. But the issue, and therefore, solutions, is way bigger.”
She said children must be raised to become adults who did not express toxic masculinity or femininity.
BYisrael, a public health practitioner, added the educational system also needed to respond to the various learning needs of children “so no one is left behind.”
She said economic opportunities must be expanded so that families would be able to live in dignity.
The PDP deputy leader said the protective system must also be modernised to include more community policing.
PNM Tobago Council political leader Tracy Davidson-Celestine said she supported the use of pepper spray.
“I am in support of any effective weapon which can protect us women from acts of violence. But I also encourage our women to enrol in self-defence classes as well,” she said via WhatsApp.
People Against Domestic Violence founder Dr Kamane Soman said while she also supports the use of pepper spray as a safety device for women, they also need to be trained and educated in the proper way to use it.
“I believe education to everything in our society is the key to resolving domestic violence, violence, education in using any tool or weapon,” she said.
“Once you are granted this sort of thing to use it should be mandatory that you do some sort of education.
“We don’t want people going to parties and a man grab it away from your hand or you get in an altercation with another woman and you pepper spray her. It should be used only if you are at risk.”