Antigua PM draws anger for 'young and attractive Vincy women' remark

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne.  -
Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne. -

ABSOLUTELY disrespectful!

That was how Terry Ince, founder of the Cedaw Committee, felt about Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne's statement about sending pretty young St Vincent women to his country.

In a Facebook comment, Browne said he "jokingly" told St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves to send only young and attractive Vincentian women.

Ince, whose organisation's goal is to ensure the Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) is upheld in Trinidad and Tobago, said such sexism is disturbing, particularly coming from the leader of a country.

"It should not be a jest. It is abhorrent in 2021 that our leadership refuses to recognise that devaluing more than 50 per cent of the population (women and girls) is continuing a culture of sexism."

Ince said Browne's statement is setting the tone for the female population to be disrespected.

"While they create the gender-based programmes and make comments on men being more responsible, he needs to be more responsible."

She called on Browne to apologise to SVG's womenfolk and all Caribbean women. Ince said leaders need to be held more accountable,

"They could be held accountable at election times if women do not vote for him, but more so he should hold himself accountable immediately. He could make a public statement and do better."

She first found out about the statement when a friend from Canada sent her an article.

"This thing has been widely publicised. He is in leadership. These men in the Caribbean need to do better."

Ashlee Burnett, founder of Feminitt Caribbean, said displacement, particularly due to a natural disaster, creates fear and vulnerability. People are afraid of being violated, afraid of facing violence from people who want to take advantage of others vulnerability and fear that they won't be able to return home.

Browne's statement, she said,  "reinforces this fear with his objectifying and sexist comments. In a time like this, where the issue of gender-based violence has been exacerbated by the pandemic, we must work harder to remove the practices and cultures that reinforce these inequalities and expose women and girls to danger."

She said women and girls are not objects and should not be treated as such.

"Elected officials have a right to be held accountable and to set an example to the country, one that sees the safety of women and girls as no joking matter."

Kevin Liverpool, administrator of the Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMan), said the regional board of directors and secretariat of the organisation are "deeply disappointed" in Browne's statements.

"In a region where one in three women report being victims of physical or sexual violence, the implications of statements like these can be dangerous for women and girls. In particular, migrant women and girls face unique vulnerabilities when forced to leave their country."

He said sexual assault, rape and child abuse are known to increase during times of humanitarian crisis.

"We therefore call for a retraction of this statement and a commitment to greater sensitivity as we seek to serve the needs of all Vincentian citizens during this difficult time."


"Antigua PM draws anger for ‘young and attractive Vincy women’ remark"

More in this section