Response to Cosby Event and Donation Printed

Our open letter to the women’s organization that planned the Cosby event at Atlantis and intended to use proceeds to fund a safe house was printed in The Tribune on Tuesday. We expressed our outrage at the decision of the organization to not only host the event, but participate in what could be Cosby’s honeymoon stage. We hope more people will speak up about it.

Here’s a link to it. Read it, leave a comment, and share it.

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Bill Cosby Show at Atlantis

Hollaback! Bahamas was utterly dismayed to learn that proceeds of the Bill Cosby event held in the Atlantis Live Theatre – hosted by the Nassau Chapter of The Links, Incorporated – would fund a women’s safe house. Whether or not Cosby has been tried and found guilty, rape allegations and the dignity of those reporting them must be taken seriously. National President Glenda Newell-Harris called the accusations “alarming and unsettling” in a statement. She went on to say that the organization “believes in the judicial system of the United States” and would not comment further.


As a part of a global movement and non-profit organization rooted in storytelling, our mandate is to honour the stories of the people who share them, support them through the process, stand in the gap for them to demand justice and respect, and direct them to available resources. As such, it is necessary to have this conversation both openly and honestly.


While Cosby refuses to comment, women continue to come forward to share their painful, personal stories, igniting a global dialogue about sexual assault, issues of reporting, power dynamics, the law – specifically the statute of limitations – and victim shaming. One might expect greater sensitivity and responsibility from organizations operating in The Bahamas where sexual assault is a scourge of society, suffered by many who maintain their silence.


The Bahamas had the highest per capita rate of rape in the world according to the 2007 UN/World Bank report on crime, and continues to see abuse of power manifested as sexual assault. The country continues to see the abuse of power by men, parents and guardians, caretakers, and religious leaders. In 2011, for example, former Bishop Randy Fraser was found guilty of unlawful sex with a 16 year old girl he was counseling.


Perhaps the 2002 vote against making marital rape illegal should have been an indicator of the Bahamian people’s view of consent, body autonomy, and male privilege. The non-joke about domestic abuse by Leslie Miller, M.P. in the House of Assembly earlier this year and the (lack of) public response was certainly another clear indicator of the willingness of the Bahamian people to ignore the ongoing violations of human rights and the law.


As we continue to lobby for a sexual offenders court, an amber alert system for missing children, and a sexual offenders registry, more is expected of civic organizations and individuals who purport to be proponents and advocates of human rights, equality, and justice. We must all be held to a higher standard.


It is unfathomable to Hollaback! Bahamas that the use of proceeds from the comedy show to fund a women’s safe house could possibly pay penance to survivors of sexual assault who have reported, have not reported, and continue to consider reporting crimes against them.


How could one seek refuge in a place that is partly funded by a few hours of jokes or talks on morality from a man accused of rape by more than 15 women? We are unable to reconcile the two, and do not believe any woman should ever have to do so. TV Land, NBC, and Netflix will not force their viewers to choose. Why should a safe house force those who seek refuge to make such a moral decision? Why would a local women’s organization choose to play an active role in what could be Cosby’s honeymoon phase?


It is our hope that the organization raising money for a safe house will reject funds from this event as a matter of respect for survivors of sexual assault and the sanctity of their relationship with them.


Relevant articles:

Bill Cosby Concert for Women’s Charity Will Not Be Cancelled

Allegations Aside, The Cosby Show Goes On

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Alicia’s Story: “Sexy knee!”

I had to walk for about 5 minutes to do an errand. In that short time, I was harassed 5 times. Yes, one time per minute. First, three people honked their horns at me. Then, some guy yelled, “YELLOW!” He was referring to my complexion. It was all capped off with another person who yelled, “Sexy knee!” as a reference to the rip in my jeans, at the knee.

I’m exhausted by street harassment every single time I go out, and I confront them every time. It’s really infuriating when I can’t because they’ve already sped off, continuing as if they didn’t do anything wrong.

I've got your back!

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Video: Thee Kats Meoww Talks Street Harassment

In this video, Kat Lazo breaks it down. She explains what street harassment is, what it looks like, and how it makes people feel. She also gives four tips for dealing with street harassment. Check it out!

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Liann’s Story: “Women do not care to be sexually harassed EVER.”

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.

I've got your back!

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COBUS Training

COBUS trainingWe’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.

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Amy C’s Story: “He waited until I was the most vulnerable…”

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.

I've got your back!

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Radio Appearance: Connected

Lester Cox showOur 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.


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