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For the three young Bahamian men wearing Bakers Bay construction crew t-shirts, who took it upon themselves to sexually harass me while I was minding my own business in the frozen food aisle of Maxwells Grocery Store… You, young Bahamian men, are the reason why women in the Bahamas will never be equal. You, in your mid 20’s at most, a product of our glorious Bahamian culture and educational system, could stoop so low as to tell me how you want to ‘tap that ass’ and how you would love to have a ‘piece ah dat’, should realize Sirs, that women do not care to be sexually harassed EVER. It does not garner you favours from the oft termed ‘weaker’ sex, but I posit that we, the women of the Bahamas, are far from weaker, as we have had to endure this sort of treatment for hundreds of years. The time for silence, and just holding one’s tongue, is over. YOU are on blast!
Hollaback! Bahamas Note: We don’t believe that women will never be equal. We believe in equality, and we believe in the possibility that The Bahamas could be an amazing place for both men and women, equally. The fight for equality continues, and we are recognize our power as Bahamian women, activists, advocates, and residents to educate the general public. We recognize the need for more voices and more action, and we are hitting the pavement to ensure the gender equality referendum happens, and the people are prepared to vote based on facts rather than misinformation.
We know, all too well, the way it feels to be a victim of street harassment, and it certainly does not make us feel equal to the perpetrators. We stand with Liann, we have her back, and demand equality.
We’ve been spending so much time at College of The Bahamas that people are starting to wonder if we are students. It’s exciting to be able to connect with college students, student leaders, faculty, and staff on issues of national importance. It is our plan to work with COB long-term, and make positive changes to the campus community. For now, our focus is on sexual harassment on campus, bystander intervention, and the educational campaign on the Constitutional Amendment Bills.
Though the referendum has been postponed to an unknown date in 2015, we are continuing with our effort to educate the general public, especially youth, about the proposed amendments. Today we met with the College of The Bahamas Union of Students and delivered a presentation on the four bills. The student leaders were attentive, engaged, and posed great questions.
By the end of our session, COBUS was inspired to have a voters’ registration drive on campus. We will support them in these efforts in any way we can. The group is also planning to hold a panel discussion open to students. This will be a part of their campaign to pass on the knowledge they have gained on the upcoming referendum to the student body. We are excited about their enthusiasm and look forward to working with them increase awareness, voter registration, and voter turnout.
It was around midnight on a Saturday when I was leaving one of my favourite places to go back home. I’d had a great evening with my friends when, let’s say for the story his name is Jim, started giving two of my girl friends problems at the bar. I gave them a concerned look to make sure they were okay and I kept my eye on them in case this guy got too aggressive. Finally Jim & his friend left. I don’t drink alcohol so by midnight I’m usually exhausted and head home. A friend of mine always walks me to my car when I leave and that night was no exception, but when I got outside he was having a conversation with the Jim, who was still carrying on really loud and throwing around sexist slurs and other foul things about my two friends. Him & his friend finally walked off, I got in my car, said goodnight to my friend and went to go home.
As soon as I pull off to drive through a particularly empty and dark section of the road, Jim swoops down on my car and starts shouting expletives at me, calling me everything from ‘fat’ to ‘ugly’ to ‘whore’. He basically went into his cupboard of stereotypical insults when a man clearly has no other intention than to try hurt you with the three things men know women are the most insecure about. Being fat, feeling ugly, and being a sexual being. First of all I am fat. Let’s put this out here now because I am a fat woman and I love myself. There is nothing about the word fat that I take as negative or an insult. Second, I know my worth and something as disgusting as calling me ugly really doesn’t phase me. Third, I’m asexual so the term whore literally means nothing to me because I know I am not, by any definition, a whore. And if I was, what of it? He wouldn’t have a clue about it anyway.
What affected me the most out of this entire situation was that this man waited in the dark for his opportunity to get me when he knew I would be alone. He waited until I was the most vulnerable to harass me verbally and to attack me with what he thought would hurt me the most. This guy was out for blood, attacking three girls in the space of half an hour. Two of them he couldn’t truly hurt because there were people around, but me? He knew he could get at me. At the time I was just angry. I was angry that this man thought he had any right to inflict his male dominance over me as a woman, and I was angry he waited until I was alone to do it. As far as I know this guy works at a popular nightclub downtown, but I have no idea of any details other than that. I was terrified and angry and my adrenaline was pumping because I am no stranger to harassment like this, because as a woman I’ve gone through this many times before. This guy is a fatphobic, cowardly misogynist craplamp that hates the very thought of a woman.
Our Director, Alicia Wallace, was a guest on Connected with Lester Cox and Erin Greene on Guardian Radio this morning.
Another guest presented her views on the Constitutional Amendment Bills and her reasons for voting no on two of the four. Alicia and Erin disagreed with the guest’s reasoning, and the discussion was lively.
The Bahamas finds itself in a very uncomfortable position today. Over the past few weeks, conversations have been going on about equality. Women’s rights have been at the forefront of this conversation, but women are not the only people affected by the conversation’s catalyst. That catalyst? Four Bills. Four Bills recommended by the Constitutional Commission for amendments to four areas of the Constitution.
We’ll talk more about the current Constitution, the proposed Bills, the implications of a yes/no vote, and all of those details a bit later. For now, let’s keep this as simple as possible. The four Bills intend to make the following changes:
— BILL 1: Allow Bahamian mothers to pass citizenship on to their children born outside of The Bahamas (the way Bahamian men currently can)
— BILL 2: Allow men married to Bahamian women the right to apply for Bahamian citizenship (the way wives of Bahamian men currently can)
— BILL 3: Allow Bahamian men to pass on citizenship to their children born outside of wedlock (the way Bahamian woman currently can)
— BILL 4: Add “sex” to the definition of discrimination (where race, place of origin, colour, and creed are currently listed)
The referendum date was set for November 6, 2014, but the Bills must first pass in the House of Assembly with a 3/4 vote from the Members. Then, it needs to pass in the Senate with a 3/4 majority.
According to Article 54 of the Constitution, 29 of the 38 Members of Parliament need to vote in favour of the Bills for them to go to the Senate. On Friday, Dr. Bernard Nottage, M.P. and Rt. Hon. Prime Minister Perry Christie made contradictory statements with regard to the vote on Wednesday.
Below are excerpts from an article in The Tribune. We emphasize that these two excerpts are from the same article.
There is no telling which way things will go. With MPs politicizing the issue and making public statements against the Bills, we can only hope for 29 out of 38 to vote for this referendum to take place.
Now, we must ask, who is running the show? Is it Dr. Nottage or Prime Minister Christie? That may determine whether or not the Bahamian people ever get to make the decision about these Bills through a referendum on November 6, 2014. Up to now, we still do not have certainty on whether a 3/4 vote is required (as is set forth by the Constitution itself as the minimum) or unanimity.
Please support us in demanding a YES vote from our representatives. We, the people, deserve the chance to become educated on the proposed amendments and have our voices heard. Instead of in-fighting, politicizing, and missing the issues, MPs need to TAKE IT TO THE PEOPLE. We want a BETTER Bahamas for everyone.
Calls to Action for Bahamians:
— Call or email your MP and encourage them to vote YES so YOU have a voice.
— Write a letter to the editor of the newspaper of your choice.
— Join the social media conversation using #TakeItToThePeople and #BetterInTheBahamas
Calls to Action for non-Bahamians:
— Join the conversation as potential tourists on Facebook, RTing our tweets and posting your own using #TakeItToThePeople and #BetterInTheBahamas. Money talks, and you represent a lot of money to this country which is heavily dependent on tourism.
— Contact us with your ideas.
We’re watching closely as the Equality Bills are debated and the Constitutional Commission begins its education campaign. This week, we went to the FNM-hosted forum on the equality bills, Parliament proceedings as the bills were presented and debated, and the Crisis Centre-hosted educational session.
Coalition to End Gender-based Violence & Discrimination will soon begin the training process for its Educational Ambassadors. After the Bills have passed in the House of Assembly, dates will be announced. We know the importance of educating the general public and involving like-minded individuals in the process. Feel free to contact us with questions about the equality bills, or how you can become more involved in the educational campaign.
We came across this video with people yelling out what they’re actually saying to people they catcall at, and think it’s pretty awesome. We just had to share it with you.
If you nodded your head or said, “HUZZAAAH!” or anything of the sort while watching that video, please share it widely. People need to see it, and understand what it means when they sexually harass others.
We love hearing from you, so let us know what you think of the video in the comments.
Here’s what feminist YouTube blogger Marinashutup has to say to Shailene Woodley in response to her comments on feminism: