Sep 16, 2021 News
Kaieteur News – “Lewd, vile and clearly misogynic,” were the words the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) used to condemn a publicised song purportedly directed to Minister of Education, Priya Manickchand.
But of even greater concern, the GAWU noted in a release, is “the publicising of the derogatory song by a sitting Member of Parliament (MP). We believe that the MP, as a national leader, ought to know and certainly do better. The actions by the MP, in our view, are an embarrassment to the wider Opposition and is an insult to all Guyanese.”
According to the GAWU too, “We see the attack on the Minister as an attack on all women and the gains, which they have secured through their struggles.” Noting that the Minister, during her public life, has been a staunch advocate for women’s rights, GAWU added that the attempt to denigrate her character is most unbecoming. “The GAWU upholds the advancement of women’s rights and thus we were most perturbed by the actions being touted by some as entertainment. It goes against any sense of morality, decency and integrity, characteristics touted by the now Opposition during the 2020 elections campaign,” the release added.
The union body noted that while it recognises that in the political sphere disagreements are bound to arise, “we, at the same time, contend such disagreements should relate to issues and not personalities.” It is on this score that the GAWU expressed dismay that the Opposition Member disagreement with the Minister has descended into a completely uncalled for personal attack. “As a leader, the MP should be setting an example for all Guyanese, especially our youth. The attempt to score petty political points through crude antics and gimmicks does not bring any good for our nation and its people,” the GAWU added.
It went on to note that, “those who are responsible for the composition, recital and distribution of the derogatory song should collectively hang their heads in shame. Such actions are reprehensible by any yardstick and those responsible should offer an unequivocal apology to the Minister and all Guyanese.”
The Women Progressive Organisation (WPO) in condemning the attack too noted , “we see the depraved behaviour of some APNU members who instead of dealing with the issues, they are representing, have sunk to their usual low in attacking those in the current Government.”
The video posted on social media shared by MP Sherod Duncan, according to the WPO, is crass and clearly displays sexist and misogynistic behaviour to Minister Manickchand.
“This latest behaviour reminds of callous attacks on the late Mrs. Janet Jagan when she was sworn in as President of Guyana where foul language was used by PNC members to describe her. Last year, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, who in her capacity as Chairperson of CARICOM was not spared either. Many APNU members lambasted and cursed her out for taking a principled position on the election fiasco in Guyana. Now, we have a sitting Minister of Education who is under attack by these very operatives. These sexists’ attacks on women have not gone unnoticed.”
The Minister, the WPO noted, has championed women’s rights issues and has initiated progressive legislations to protect the rights of women and children as well as the WOW programme to help women.
“She is working tirelessly, implementing the Government’s programme aimed at ensuring that our children are protected during this pandemic which has affected our children in Guyana and across the globe negatively”.
Also condemning the attack on the Minister was the Women and Gender Equality Commission, which in a statement pointed out that “in a democracy such as ours where we have a government and an opposition, we expect, as a 55-year-old nation, more mature and civil engagements, particularly when there is disagreement. The current attacks are crass and unbecoming.”
As it condemned all those involved in the creation and dissemination of the song and its accompanying video, the Commission noted that, “what is disappointing is the role of the women who participated in the creation of the featured song which was aimed at disparaging a female Minister.”
“We have fought for the right of women to be in decision-making. Instead of name calling, MPs should be more concerned with issues that ensure that rights of all citizens are respected and that the developmental trajectory of this country is accelerated,” the Commission added.
Even as it underscored that Guyana has an admirable record of recognising women’s rights and much work has been done to increase the stature of Guyanese women, the Commission in its statement noted, “We should encourage and support all women who are in the corridors of power seeking to craft policies and legislations to advance our society.”
The Commission is, therefore, concerned that the current atmosphere would act as a deterrent to young women aspiring to hold public office. “We call on the Parliament of Guyana to discipline the sitting MPs who engage in disparaging behaviour. We also call for the police to investigate any offence committed under the Cybercrime Act,” the Commission added.
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