The absence of radio personality and entertainer Devon Matthews from the Carnival scene this year has not gone unnoticed.
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Protesters call for Tim Kee’s dismissal
More that one hundred people gathered outside Port-of-Spain City Hall today to demonstrate against statements made by Mayor Raymond Tim Kee following the murder of Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya.
— Akash Ravi Samaroo (@AkashSamaroo) February 12, 2016
Womantra, the organising body behind the protest, is calling for the country to end victim blaming and sexism when a woman is attacked.
Protesters line Woodford Square opposite City Hall to show their dissaproval of Tim Kee's statements. Photo courtesy Renelle White.
Tim Kee held an emergency press conference at City Hall after the discovery of Nagakiya’s body on Ash Wednesday. He told the media: “I spoke about of some of the things that I see women do, assisted by men, of course, but the woman has the responsibility that they ensure that they are not abused. You can enjoy Carnival without going through the routine.”
The group dropped off a letter for Tim Kee calling for his dismissal. Womantra is saying they are not accepting Tim Kee’s apology and they see no other alternative but for him to leave.
Photo courtesy Renelle White.
Spokesperson for the group Attillah Springer told CNC3’s Morning Brew this morning that the protest is not just over Tim Kee’s statements, but about taking a stand about public officials being more responsible for their statements.
“It is a clear call for the women in the region to make ourselves and our men accountable for how they treat us. From the language that they use to refer to us, to the violence that is done not just to our bodies but to our minds. Stop that abuse,” she said.
Springer said she felt abused by the comments Tim Kee made following Nagakiya’s death.
“I felt violated by it, and we need to address that. It is not just about that physical violence, but that verbal violence,” she said.
Springer said Tim Kee’s view is a common sentiment in this country and if not now, then when will women take a stand for change? She said following today’s march, they will be advocating for gender sensitivity training for public officials so that they understand gender relations and understanding in T&T.
Photo courtesy Renelle White.
Angelique Nixon, a lecturer at the University of the West Indies, spoke at the protest saying: “To tell women they have to be responsible for their bodies when in fact it is the state’s responsibility, and all of our responsibilities of course, to treat each other with respect and ensure our safety.”
Liselle Prevatt and Angelique Nixon speak to the media at the protest. Photo courtesy Renelle White.
She said violence against women is not about how women dress. “The issues is not about how women carry themselves. The language that he used was completely and utterly disgusting. We need to stand up and stand in action against that and I think by seeing all of our faces here, they know that we came to do that,” Nixon said.
People like former Justice Minister Christlyn Moore, and fashion designers Anya Ayoung-Chee and Meiling were at the protest.
Moore said she was disgusted by the mayor’s comments and this brings forward the call for there to be gender sensitivity, not necessarily a gender ministry, but gender sensitivity throughout the Cabinet of T&T, throughout the police force, and the regional corporations.
She said what the mayor said was very embarrassing to the country, and what Womantra is saying is that it perpetuates a victim blaming and rape culture that is akin to the type of misogyny seen in the Middle East where there is a belief that what a woman wears is an invitation for violence.
Lawrence Arjoon wears his Mas Rebellion costume of a Lagahoo using his costume as a metaphor for how men are taught to prey upon women. Photo courtesy Renelle White.
Also present were Japanese media who flew in last night to cover the story of Nagakiya's death
— Richard Lord (@Lordrich6) February 12, 2016
One of the employees of the office of the Mayor went downstairs to defend Tim Kee. She said she was in plain clothes and not on duty, but confirmed that she was employed by the city.
She was defending the mayor’s statement and she accused the media of blowing the whole situation out of proportion.
Yesterday Womantra created a petition calling for Tim Kee to be fired. Thus far it has more than 8,000 signatures.
Yesterday Tim Kee sent out a public apology and said that his statements were taken out of context.
Many of the protestors also held signs in honour or memory of Nagakiya.
Photo of Asami Nagakiya in her Legacy cosutme on the road on Carnival Tuesday. Photo courtesy Aaron Kratos.