Two young men organised a protest at the Queen’s Park Savannah yesterday as the country continued to react to the kidnapping and murder of Andrea Bharatt.
After her body was found on Thursday, citizens from all across the country have been finding ways to honour her legacy as well as press for change in the way women are treated and laws to prevent more women from suffering a similar.
On Sanday numerous rallies, protests and motorcades were held.
Several hundred protesters who gathered at the Queen’s Park Savannah yesterday called for the legalisation of non-lethal weapons for women as well as stricter legislation for rapists and kidnappers.
The protesters began gathering from 3 pm, armed with placards to register their discontent with the treatment of women and girls in Trinidad and Tobago.
Some of the placards said, “Our rights are not up for grabs. Neither are we,” “Fed up with media conferences, do your job!” “Pull up on yuh bedrin who tracking school girls”, “Stop protecting rapists” and “Stop tell women how to dress, start teaching men not to rape” among others.
The protest was organized by two young men, Ishmael Tarouba and Dimitri Chote.
Chote told Guardian Media that young people were fed up of the current state of affairs.
“Where this nation is headed, it is not acceptable the way that things are, we felt the loss of Andrea but it has been accumulating and we decided to stop posting on social media and actually come out and express our frustration with the situation,” Chote said.
Their aim was to not only to register their discontent but to call for legislative change.
“We would like legislation for the legalization of non-lethal (weapons), we would like the sex offenders registry to be made public, we would also like the regularization of the PH taxis, so people can feel safe while travelling.”
Chote said the next step for his group is to lobby for their Members of Parliament and the Attorney General to make these changes happen.
“The next step is to write letters to the MPs, the AG, we are not going to stop because every time something like this happens, we just have something like this and it dies down, we need to continue with the momentum and actually bring forward change,” he said.
Chote had this message for politicians, both in Government and in Opposition: “First and foremost, you are servants of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, you need to do what the people want and what will make the country safer, this is for both sides of the political system.”
One woman, who brought her children along with her to the protest, said she believes the time has come for the citizenry to force the change that is necessary.
“The time has come for us to make a difference in our society, we are women, we have daughters and it is simply not safe for us anymore. I think we need to pay attention to what is happening to women, you simply cannot jump into a taxi and reach home, you are disappearing, you are being raped, robbed, it is ridiculous,” she said.
Another of the protestors, who gave his name only as Damian, said he wants all leaders in the country to sit up and take action.
“I really hope that all stakeholders- whether it is the Government, the Opposition, the Commissioner of Police- everyone needs to come together and find a solution to what is happening in the country,” he said.