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Six activists hit ‘dotish’ radio talk show hosts

Friday, February 19, 2016

Six activists are responding to criticism from hosts of a radio programme who have allegedly used their air time this week to bash feminism.

In an open letter to the hosts of radio station i95.5fm’s afternoon drive, the six activists defended the work of feminists in the country.

The letter was signed by Jacquie Burgess, Merle Hodge, Sheila Rampersad, Attillah Springer, Eintou Springer and Verna St Rose Greaves.

The women said feminists had worked hard on public awareness of gender issues, legislation, counselling centres and shelter.

The letter said it was decades of public awareness work by women activists, impacting on people’s thinking as well as on public policy, that led to “gentlemen in the studio having the consciousness that you do today about domestic violence and (hopefully) other gender issues.

 “Don’t take it for granted or assume that this consciousness has always been part of the society’s thinking,” it added.

They said the hosts were freely insulting the women who demonstrated to demand former Port-of-Spain Mayor Raymond Tim Kee’s resignation.

Tim Kee resigned days after the protest.

Last week activists and supporters protested outside City Hall to demand Tim Kee’s resignation following the then mayor’s victim blaming statements in relation to the death of a Japanese national who had participated in T&T’s Carnival celebrations.

According to the letter, the radio hosts criticised the silence of activist Hazel Brown and questioned feminists’ failure to protest over a domestic violence case and the death of a Moruga man.

“Your discourse betrays a great haziness about women’s activism in Trinidad and Tobago. 

“As media practitioners speaking from an influential public platform, it is your responsibility to be informed before you speak. 

“It is the most ‘dotish’ thing to hear talk show hosts using up precious air time to foam at the mouth about who should be saying what on which issue, and cussing them for not doing so,” the letter added.

It said shelters and counselling centres have been set up by NGOs, mostly through the activism of women, for people affected by family violence.

It also gave credit to activists for the existence of certain institutions, such as the Rape Crisis Society; the Police Child Protection Unit; the Police Victim and Witness Support Unit; the Family Court; the UWI Institute for Gender and Development Studies; the Ministry of Gender and Child Development and the Children’s Authority.

The group said activists did not often make use of the street demonstration strategy “but when we find it necessary, we do.

“We, not you, will determine that. Please, let us decide for ourselves how we are going to use the energy and the minimal resources that we have. Don’t dictate to us.”