This island has been cracked open and will never be the same again.
Women broke every silence.
We spoke of street harassment: girl, yuh pussy fat!
Principals who made no room for comprehensive sexuality education but slut-shamed girls who were themselves sexually abused.
Rape by current and former partners.
Years of sexual abuse by fathers, step-fathers, uncles, cousins.
Stories of men who told us that they’re waiting for our four-year-old daughters to grow up.
Men who offered jobs or rides or food or protection only to demand sex. Only to split our bodies open when we refused.
Men who raped us because we are lesbian, because we are women, because we are girls, because they could.
We exploded every myth about how good girls and good women are protected from this violence. That good men will protect us. That all we have to do is call in our squad of brothers and and uncles and fathers. We asked, and who will women and girls call when our fathers and brothers and uncles assault them? We affirmed that asking men to protect us from male violence is not freedom. All men benefit from male privilege and unequal relations of gender which disadvantage and devalue women and girls. We demand autonomy not protection!
We split this island open for every woman and girl who has had her body split open.
We split this island open and let all the secrets fall out.
We put flesh and blood and tears to the bones of statistics like:
- Studies show that more than 35% of all murders of women globally are committed by an intimate partner. In comparison, only about 5% of all murders of men are committed by an intimate partner.
- Country studies for Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana, British Virgin Islands and Suriname suggest that between 20-69% of women in intimate relationships have been victims of domestic violence.
- 2007 research by CADRES confirmed a 30% prevalence rate for domestic violence in Barbados
- 48% of adolescent girls report sexual initiation to be forced or somewhat forced in 9 Caribbean countries.
- Three of the top ten recorded rape rates in the world occur in the Caribbean: St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Jamaica and the top rated country of the Bahamas. All countries in the Caribbean experienced a higher rate of rape than the world average.
- A population based survey among adolescents and young adults conducted in Barbados, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago found that between 52% and 73% of women reported experiences of sexual violence by a partner.
- In Trinidad and Tobago, between 2000 and 2015, of charges for sex with a minor under 16 years old, there were 2258 matters in relation to girls compared to two for boys.
Every force-ripe gal, every slut, every walking cemetery, every girl sent to Summervale because she was difficult, delinquent, let wunna know wha wunna prefer to pretend not to know. Now you know. Girls that survive sexual abuse are more likely to get punishment than justice.
That hashtag #lifeinleggings has cost us family, friends, homes. Bajan women are not afraid to name names and nicknames and addresses. Families can’t deal. Won’t heal. Abusers can’t deal. Rapists are having a hard time. Men who would never yell, girl yuh pussy fat!, still feel that someone is looking to take a way a right from them that they would prefer to keep, thank you very much.
Who say Bajans passive never met a Bajan woman posting through tears on the #lifeinleggings hashtag? Deliberate and afraid of nothing.
Deliberate and afraid of nothing.
Deliberate and afraid of nothing.
The backlash has been swift and misogynist. Here’s how you can help. Read the #lifeinleggings hashtag on facebook and twitter. Feel free to share your stories if you can. Not everyone is in a place where they can and that’s OK. Encourage women and girls in your community to participate. Help us drown out the misogynist noise and raise women and girls’ voices higher and higher.
We will not be silenced.
Press for #lifeinleggings:
Further reading from CODE RED for gender justice!