My December 7th 2018 letter to P.M. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 39th month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

It is more than 1 year since I wrote requesting that your government implement Sexual Harassment policies throughout the entire public service and State Enterprises and while there has been some cosmetic gestures the substantive issue remains outstanding.

While there are guidelines by the Equal Opportunity Commission, it is still necessary to implement the policies across the Public Service and State Enterprises.  Additionally, Trinidad and Tobago is behind on the passing of appropriate legislation.

I am once again requesting the implementation of the appropriate policies and the passage of the necessary legislation to successful deal with sexual harassment in the workplace.

Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Citizen 

My March 7th, 2018 letter to Dr. Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 30th month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

My sincere congratulations to you on facilitating the work of the Equality Opportunity Commission and the launch of the “Guidelines to Sexual Harassment in the WorkPlace”.

I take this opportunity to remind you that the next important milestones are the Legislation and the implementation of Sexual Harassment Policy at all State Enterprises and Ministries.  

Let’s do this!”

Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Citizen

My December 07, 2017 letter to PM Rowley

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past 5 years.

Dear Dr. Rowley

Congratulations on your 27th month as Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago.

Commendations to you and Caribbean Airlines Limited on the bold step of introducing the penalty for any change of flights on the air bridge.

The issue of sexual harassment has taken centre stage on the national human resource agenda. I am joining with other groups to ask you to take leadership on the implementation of Sexual Harassment policies throughout the entire public service and State Enterprises.  

AnsaMcal has an excellent policy which I am sure they would be willing to share with you.  Additionally gender sensitivity training would be needed in conjunction with the roll out of the policy.

I am suggesting the roll out of the gender sensitivity training and policy coincide with the celebration of “International Women’s Day” on Tuesday 8th March, 2018.

Yours Respectfully

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Communications
Citizen

My September 20th, 2017 letter to PM

This is one of the letters which I have written to
Prime Minister Rowley over the past
5 years.

Dear Hon. Prime Minister

I refer to your ‘Message on the Occasion of International Women’s Day 2017’ 

(http://www.opm.gov.tt/pms-message-on-the-occasion-of-international-womens-day-2017/ ) in which you said: ‘The Gender and Child Affairs Division of the Office of the Prime Minister remains focused on facilitating gender equity and equality by developing policies that promote the equal advancement of women and men.” 

In light of your statement, I am asking our Government to urgently develop a policy to provide free feminine hygiene products for low income women and girls. 

The City of Aberdeen in Scotland recently made these items free for low income women and girls, with very positive results. You can ask your wife and daughters about the cost of feminine products in our supermarkets and pharmacies .. they are not only expensive, but prohibitively so for many women and girls. Many of our girls miss days of school each month, as they cannot afford these essential products.  

Please live your words, and do something positive for the women and girls of our nation.

Thank you

Yours for our country!

Dennise Demming (Mrs.)
MBA, BSc., Cert-Mass Comm
Citizen

Update required on the status of Sexual Harassment Legislation and Policies!

As we approach the annual recognition of International Women’s Day, (March 8, 2019), our government owes us an update on the following:

  1. The status of legislation outlawing Sexual Harassment in the workplace.
  2. The status of the protocols associated with the proposed Sexual Harassment legislation.
  3. The status of sensitivity training with regard to Sexual Harassment.

This is a call for women to demand the right to a workplace which is free of Sexual Harassment. What say you Minister of Labour and Small Enterprise Development, Senator Jennifer Baptiste-Primus?

Women’s Rights are Human Rights.

Requiem for Victims of Sexual Harassment

Disaster Concept. Desaster Ahead Roadsign.

You are cordially invited to

The Daily Requiem for all victims of sexual harassment at

Angostura Holdings Limited and indeed throughout Trinidad and Tobago.

The chief celebrant will be

Mr. Terrence Bharath,

Chairman, Angostura Holdings Limited.

In anticipation of his sermon here are two quotes from previous sermons. On July 17th, 2018, his response to my letter said in part:

“In any event, this matter has engaged the attention of the Company, its Attorneys and Board, for a sufficiently long period and the matter is now considered closed”.  Ltr to DDemming 17July2018 SIGNED

His response dated September 18, 2018 said in part:

“Angostura is a company registered under the Companies Act, there are rules and regulations which govern it its operations and dissemination of information. As a member of the Public I’m afraid that you are not entitled to the information which you seek in your letter of 10th September.”  T. Bharath September 18

Here are the questions I posed to the Chief Celebrant:

  1. Is there a sexual harassment policy at Angostura?
  2. When was it implemented?
  3. Was it accompanied by sensitivity/awareness training?
  4. How can a member of the public (an indirect shareholder) access the policy?
  5. What specific actions have the Board taken to ensure that the issue of sexual harassment is ventilated throughout the organization, taking into consideration that sexual harassment is not gender-specific.
  6. What is the clear process for an employee to bring a claim of sexual harassment to the management?

These are simple questions, the provision of whose answers could be easily dispensed with in order to close the matter.

But maybe, just maybe, if he answered the questions, it would be clear that the sexual harassment policy was not implemented until after the claim was made under the Whistle Blower policy. It was a situation of post facto implementation.

Maybe, just maybe, if he answered the questions, it would become obvious that there has been no sensitivity training for employees at Angostura Holdings Limited.

Maybe, just maybe, if he answered the questions, we would realize that the sexual harassment policy is opaque.

Mr. Terrence Bharath was a member of the Board of Directors which presided over three failed attempts to investigate exactly what happened. He is now slapping his female workers in the face by using the Company’s Act as a shield against the legitimate questions and he might be right, but there is a larger dilemma to be considered.

What is the responsibility of companies which are partly owned by the State? Was the Prime Minister not acting on behalf of the people of Trinidad and Tobago when he appointed the Board of Directors? Shouldn’t the tenets of accountability and transparency apply? Don’t we (members of the Public) have a right to be informed of the policies of companies which are partly purchased by our tax dollars?

 

On Angostura Farm, all animals are holy but only cows are sacred!

“Doudou!”

“Darkie!”

“Red ting!”

“Slim ting!”

“Tick ting!”

“Tall ting!”

Their catcalls come at us from all sides, across the street, across the room, in the Stadium, in the Oval, in City Gate, at the taxi-stand, everywhere. Their candid remarks about our bodies are delivered without hesitation, with no concern for their impact on us; we might as well be dumb animals.

Their objectification (unabashedly expressed in the constant “ting,” (tall or short, slim or thick, white or black or red) knows no bounds. Nor does their lechery. And it respects few barriers, the major one being the presence of a male significant other.

Nowadays, things are a lot worse. Of course, there still are those ordinary, right-thinking men who stand up for what is right and insist on proper treatment of women. But they are, I am clear, outnumbered.

One effect of this growing anti-woman, man-is-boss attitude is that women unable to enjoy genuine freedom of movement on the streets. We find that we are now constrained to make complex arrangements so that we are almost always accompanied by a male. But, as attested to by the recent flare-up in the debate about whether mace and pepper spray should be legalised, it is not just to reduce our exposure to these unsavoury remarks but to protect ourselves and ensure our physical safety.

However, I find that idea much less uncomfortable than the idea that thousands of women have been socialized into thinking that catcalls and other similar aggressive behaviour are really compliments and, therefore, completely acceptable. Perhaps, sadly, it is a generational thing but there was certainly a time when many women would wonder aloud, “Why is it that men don’t understand that I dislike their crude comments?”

“Crude comments.” Say that to the members of the Boys’ Club and they will respond, with a dismissive wave of the hand, that it is “only man talk.”

“Whappen,” they might add, “ah man cyar even make ah joke with ah ooman now?”  Don’t be fooled into thinking that that behaviour is confined to the “bad boys” on the street corners; it is an all pervasive attitude, exhibited wherever men get together.

And that is why there is a need for radical change as regards how women are treated in both public and private spaces, high and low, in Trinidad and Tobago. I do not think the households where the narrative continues to be that “A woman’s place is in the home and her role to rear the children and make sure everyone is properly fed” are defined by level of income or of education. I do not think that men in only one type of environment socialise their male offspring into thinking that “roughing she up” is the manly thing to do; environments across every stratum of the society ooze male dominance and feminine abuse.

The attitude of man’s sense of entitlement as far as women are concerned is deeply embedded in our psyche, making the problem systemic. It will only be solved when we take a systems approach to understanding it and shifting the needle. My continuing focus on sexual harassment is fuelled by the lack of action with a view to embedding a system to help people understand the issue and their own reactions.

When I repeatedly call for legislation, it is with the full understanding that, without clearly articulated consequences for not making changes, the status quo will remain unchanged. When I repeatedly call for policy implementation, it is with the full understanding that the conversation about sexuality and sexual harassment must take place so that people will understand the changing norms and the new boundaries. When I repeatedly call for the removal of a top official still under the cloud of sexual harassment accusations, it is with the full understanding that that person’s actions speak so loudly that audiences cannot hear his words.

On at least one issue, audiences cannot hear their government’s words either. The current Rowley-led PNM Administration continues to be silent on the issue of an independent, transparent investigation into the sexual harassment allegations made against the Chairman of the 30% government-owned Angostura Holdings Limited. The absence of any action to remove the Angostura Chairman is a message, loud and clear, that, as far Government is concerned, all animals are equal but only certain cows remain sacred.

So if women continue to be on the receiving end of constant catcalls and treated like dogs, for Dr Rowley and his Cabinet, including no small number of women, that is really small ting.

Rowley’s men diddle while women get burned!

Screen Shot 2018-02-26 at 05.25.22On 8 March, the world will celebrate International Women’s Day (IWD). Here in Trinidad and Tobago, some will clink glasses, others will engage in “big” talk at cocktail parties while others will analyse gender issues to death in panel discussions, talk shops, talk shows and seminars.  A minority will take positive action to bring women’s issues to the attention of the wider public. Continue reading “Rowley’s men diddle while women get burned!”