My Two Cents On Sexual Violence Prevention

Is the movement around teaching consent rooted in preserving, while ameliorating, heterosexual patriarchal culture?

Framing rape prevention primarily around teaching men to ask for consent reinforces men’s (hetero) sexual prerogative. It completely ignores what we know about gender relations, relations of power and sexual assault. It ignores the research that shows that rapists chose their victims based on vulnerabilities such as age, impairment eg intoxication, disability and previous intimate/sexual relationship (which makes it very unlikely to get a rape conviction). Instead, this focus on consent favors the narrative that men simply have not been taught to ask for consent and do not recognize the verbal and non verbal ways in which women and girls say no or may be unable to give consent; have not been taught that consent can be revoked at any time.

There is value in teaching everyone consent as persons of all genders and sexualities can and do sexually assault others. My concern is that we can’t fathom telling men not to “ask” for, expect or feel entitled to sex under any circumstance including marriage, dating, love or just because someone accepted your invitation to watch TV or is walking alone etc. [Think here of Brutal Crankstar’s Why Yuh Come By Me For i.e. accepting an invitation to a man’s home is taken as consent to sexual activity.]

There’s a report in a Caribbean newspaper about the driver of a church bus who “asked” a teen with a disability for sex after refusing to drop her off at her home as expected after a church event. She slapped him, because she rightly recognized his “ask” as a sexual violation in and of itself. He raped her. Which was always his intention. He did not rape her because of some innocent ignorance about consent. He made the decision to rape her after considering all the ways in which she was vulnerable. Again, one of the ways people are pushing against the anti-immigrant sentiment in the wake of Mollie Tibetts’ murder is by arguing that the murder is evidence of men’s inability to “take no for answer” (and therefore symptomatic of patriarchal and rape culture). If you’re jogging and a man stalks and abducts you, he is not interested in your answer. His intention was always to do harm.

Even our attempts to respond to men’s violence against women, to expose and dismantle rape culture struggle to escape sexist, heterosexist and patriarchal logics. Men don’t have the right to expect, demand or ask for sex or attention in the first place. Period. Men don’t have the right to expect, demand or ask for sex or attention from girls AT ALL. Our responses to sexual violence have to take seriously the fact that the vulnerabilities that rapists exploit are structural. And cannot be addressed by “real men don’t rape” messages steeped in toxic misogynistic bro culture and delivered by problematic, rapist bros themselves because “men listen to men”.

I wrote this years ago but worth re-sharing now in light of The 2 Cents Movement recent statement: “When the allegations were first made in 2017 we took the matter to the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service as we take such allegations very seriously. The contractor was suspended from the organization on the basis of the allegations received to facilitate independent investigation from direct complaints to the police. […] After one year and six months, when no complaints were made to the authorities and after consultation with our team, we re-engaged the contractor on a project basis.”

This is a case study in supporting and enabling sexual violence against girls. An absence of reports is not an absence of violation. Rape is under-reported to the point of being effectively decriminalised. Men’s sexually predatory behavior toward girls is normalised. Predators can expect support, protection and complicity. Girls are condemned as fast, force-ripe, wutless, asking for it.

If you are not actively unlearning your own misogyny and working to end men’s violence against women and girls, you are complicit. And if your gender-based violence prevention interventions require coddling men’s feelings and preserving male privilege you are doing more harm than good.

Organizing to Live: A Caribbean Feminist Statement in the Time of Covid-19. May 31, 2020.

This statement is issued by a group of Caribbean advocates and activists who participated in an open access online course, Society: Economy and Ecology (SEE) in the Caribbean: How Will We Organise to Live? Dedicated to late Guyanese activist Andaiye (September 11, 1942 – May 31, 2019), the course was developed to support thinking and activism for social, economic and environmental justice in the Caribbean.

Click here to read the statement.

Selling Rum and Women’s Bodies

Guest post by Lisa Shoman and Deborah Mencias-McMillan

Sex sells…everything from body lotion to rum. We know that. But does that make it right?

The advertising budget for any alcohol product is significant. Rum producers sell rum by emphasizing their product’s distinctive qualities.

And using sex to sell rum is as old, as rum, and maybe sex. Using sexy women to sell rum is an unabashedly carnal business.

Women have pouted, poured sinuously, undulated around and writhed pleasurably for rum and spirits for eons.

But in the market place of today, women have as much purchasing power as men do. And we want to see ourselves as bosses. We want to be the power player buyer, not the object being bought.

The new Tiburon Rum ad firmly puts women in the pantheon of the purchased. The words of the ad and accompanying images leave no doubt as to who is doing the buying, and what is being bought. “Tiburon classy, Tiburon fly, Keeping it top class, the best you can buy.”

And in accompaniment to the breathy Barry White impression, she is writhing and undulating, her “fine” parts on display…sex selling rum. Or rum selling sex?

Belize is a country with a tier 3 classification for the last 2 years in respect of human trafficking. Belize is a destination, transit and origin country for trafficking of women and girls.

And this ad is symptomatic of the problem. Sex sells. Who buys? Men. Who is this ad aimed at?

The Belize Rum Producers Association is a member of WIRSPA, the West Indies Rum and Spirits Producers’ Association Inc. which is an ‘association of associations’ representing distillers associations.

WIRSPA has a “Code of Practice for Responsible Advertising & Marketing
of Spirit Drinks”. All its members are supposed to subscribe to this Code. The Code states that “All WIRSPA members and affiliated producers are committed to the principles and standards of the Code and to its effective implementation in the spirit, as well as the letter, of the code.”
You can find a copy of the Code here :…/WIRSPA…/WIRSPA-Code-of-Practice.pdf

And you know what else the Code says? It says that members shall “promote their alcoholic beverages in a socially responsible manner…”

The WIRSPA Code also says that members “5. Shall not link the consumption of alcohol to driving, prowess, bravado, violence, aggression, dangerous or anti-social behaviour, sexual success, illicit drugs, social success or popularity, enhanced mental or physical capabilities in the advertisement and marketing of alcoholic beverages.”

This Tiburon ad is clearly in violation of the WIRSPA Code.

Moreover, when we buy a rum, we want to buy it like a boss. We don’t want to buy it as a consumable. Shame on Tiburon.

As women, we must focus on fighting sexism wherever it exists and condemning whoever the perpetrator is. We have an obligation to convey a valuable message to our daughters and little sisters: We are not objects to be preyed on and sexualized. We will not sit by idly and watch and condone “the shark’s/el tiburon’s” assault on women. This is a sexist ad.

Join us to fight off this kind of abusive “Tiburon” and start using OUR purchasing power.

 Solidarity with Yugge Farrell: Regional Statement 

Solidarity with Yugge Farrell: Regional Statement 

Amend the Mental Health Act of St. Vincent and the Grenadines NOW 



We the undersigned, condemn in the strongest possible terms, the persecution and mistreatment of Ms. Yugge Farrell by the legal, medical, and political authorities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We are in full solidarity with Ms. Farrell and those Vincentians who stand with her.

Ms. Farrell was arrested on January 4th, 2018 and charged with the use of abusive language to Karen Duncan- Gonsalves, the wife of Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and daughter-in-law of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. After pleading not guilty, an application was made by the prosecutor for Ms. Farrell to be confined to the Mental Health Centre for two weeks for psychiatric evaluation, as allowed under the nation’s Mental Health Act. However, according to a statement issued by the St. Vincent and Grenadines Human Rights Association (SVG HRA) – an independent Civil Society Organization – there was no apparent supporting evidence or behavior by Ms. Farrell which warranted the prosecutor and magistrate seeking and deciding to commit Ms. Farrell to the Mental Health Center. Furthermore, it appears that medication was administered to Ms. Farrell although the Mental Health Act only speaks to observation and evaluation of persons and does not include any mechanism to oversee involuntary admission and treatment practices. Also problematic is the fact that the Mental Health Center does not currently have trained psychiatrists or psychologists on staff. After the initial observation period passed, Ms. Farrell was detained for a third week and only released on bail on January 29th, 2018.

The mistreatment of Yugge Farrell raises several serious concerns about the probable abuse of the existing Mental Health Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We ask- is commitment to a mental institution for use of insulting language a regular occurrence in SVG? We join the SVG HRA in questioning the validity of the observation report and treatment administered to Ms. Farrell. We note the alleged romantic relationship that Ms. Farrell has publicly claimed with Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and caution those who rush to dismiss this incident as simply a matter of ‘love gone bad’ to reflect on the fact that state entities can easily use the excuse of mental instability to vilify, discredit, and institutionalize any critic or person(s) deemed a threat or embarrassment to the established political order.

As human rights defenders, feminists, and persons who care about well-being and justice in the Caribbean and beyond, we condemn the actions of the judicial and medical authorities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and their violation of the rights of Ms. Yugge Farrell. We deplore the misuse of mental health policies to oppress individuals and advance goals other than the safeguarding of wellness. Now that Ms. Farrell’s detention in the Mental Health Center has ended, we support calls for an investigation into the decision to detain and medicate her. We support her family members and demand independent medical and psychiatric care for her. We stand with the St. Vincent Human Rights Association who urge an immediate review and modification of the existing Mental Health Act so that it becomes compliant with international norms and standards to prevent abuses and protect human rights. Finally, we remind the government and authorities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines of their commitment to ensure their citizens’ right to free speech and protection from state persecution. The eyes of the world are watching you.

There must be no more violations of the rights of Yugge Farrell or any other Vincentian. Amend the Mental Health Act of St. Vincent and the Grenadines now.

In solidarity,

  1. Andaiye – Guyana
  2. Karen De Souza – Red Thread, Guyana
  3. Sherlina Nageer MPH – Guyana
  4. Alissa Trotz – Canada
  5. Jospehine Whitehead – Guyana
  6. Angelique V. Nixon – Trinidad and Tobago
  7. Gordon Forte – Guyana
  8. Delores Robinson – GROOTS, Trinidad and Tobago
  9. Tonya Haynes – Barbados
  10. Gina Singh-Trotz – USA
  11. Akola Thompson – Women’s Wednesdays, Guyana
  12. Anya Dover – Guyana
  13. Indera Persaud – Jamaica
  14. Maya Trotz – USA
  15. Ronelle King – Barbados
  16. Julio Thijs – Canada
  17. Verna St Rose Greaves – Trinidad and Tobago
  18. Dr Nastassia Rambarran – Barbados
  19. Mellissa Ifill – Guyana
  20. Salima Bacchus-Hinds – Guyana
  21. Fatimah Jackson-Best – Canada
  22. Charlene Wilkinson – Guyana
  23. Stephanie Leitch – Womantra, Trinidad and Tobago
  24. Krysta Bisnauth – Guyana
  25. David Khan – Canada
  26. Mosa Telford – Guyana
  27. Jessica Joseph – Trinidad/ St. Lucia
  28. Paige Jennan AndrewWE-Change, Jamaica
  29. Kimalee Phillip – Grenada/ Canada
  30. Lana Finikin – Jamaica
  31. Romola Lucas – USA
  32. Nailah John-Price – Leave Out Violence in SVG, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  33. Shanya Cordis – Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Spelman College, USA
  34. Marcus Day – St. Lucia
  35. Zina Edwards – Guyana
  36. Karen Philip – Trinidad and Tobago
  37. Savitri Persaud – Canada
  38. Roy Kingston – Guyana
  39. Simone Leid – The Women Speak Project, Trinidad and Tobago
  40. Ayesha Constable – Jamaica
  41. Kala Ramnath – UK
  42. Oluatoyin Alleyne – Guyana
  43. Naicelis Rozema Elkins – USA
  44. Maggie Schmeitz – Stichting Ultimate Purpose, Suriname
  45. Alicia Wallace – Equality Bahamas/Hollaback, Barbados
  46. Derwayne Willis – Guyana
  47. Gerhard Ramsaroop – Guyana
  48. Raquel Thomas- Caesar – Guyana
  49. Vidyaratha Kisson – Guyana
  50. Dawn Van Rossum – Antigua and Barbuda
  51. Shonnet Moore – Guyana
  52. Lauricia Akeisha Henry – Antigua
  53. Michelle Springer – Barbados
  54. Chantal Antoine – USA
  55. Holly Bynoe – ARC Magazine, St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  56. Hilary Nicholson – Video for Change, Jamaica
  57. Vashty Maharaj – Central Beat magazine, Trinidad and Tobago
  58. Tandieka Johnson – USA
  59. Reine Joseph – St. Lucia
  60. Peggy Antrobus – St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  61. Honor Ford Smith – Canada/ Jamaica
  62. Alexandrina Wong – Antigua
  63. Marlon Mills – St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  64. Marguerite Allen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica
  65. Vanessa Lumbley – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica
  66. Shaneka Allen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica
  67. Althea Cohen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica
  68. Olive Edwards – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica
  69. Eunice Graham – Jamaica
  70. Beverly Bain – Canada/ Trinidad
  71. Jean Lowrie-Chin – Jamaica
  72. Erin Greene, CAFRA – Bahamas
  73. Ann Maria Diran – Suriname
  74. Jennifer Grant-Wilson – USA
  75. Marsha Hinds-Layne – NOW, Barbados
  76. Maria Fontenelle – ECADE, Eastern Caribbean
  77. Randall Theodule – St. Lucia
  78. Majhon John – Mental Health Provider, USA
  79. Maxine Allen – St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  80. Cherrise Mcdowall – St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  81. Jermain Ostiana – Curacao
  82. Diane Cummins – Conscious Exchanges, Barbados
  83. Nicole S. Hendrickson – Firecircle!, Trinidad and Tobago
  84. Judith Weederburn – Jamaica
  85. Keturah Cecelia Babb – Order of Nyahbinghi, Dominica/ Jamaica
  86. Sendy Brown – Canada
  87. Arielle Aska – Antigua
  88. Patricia Sheerettan-Bisnauth – Guyana
  89. Sharda Ganga – PROJECKTA Citizens’ Initiative for Participation and Good Governance, Suriname
  90. Mark Jacobs – Guyana
  91. Nadeen Spence – Jamaica
  92. Nesha Edwards – St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  93. Catherine Sealys – Raise Your Voice, St. Lucia
  94. Jamela Khan – Trinidad and Tobago
  95. Carinya Sharples – Guyana
  96. Priscila Francisco Pascoal – Brazil
  97. Audrey Roberts – Bahamas
  98. Emma Lewis – Jamaica
  99. Ruth Osman Rose – Trinidad and Tobago
  100. Beverly Nelson – Grenada
  101. N’Delamiko Lord – Trinidad/ Barbados
  102. Melissa Matthews – Trinidad and Tobago
  103. Linnette Vassell – Jamaica
  104. Bridget Lewis – Canada
  105. Joan French – Jamaica
  106. Ulelli Verbeke – Guyana
  107. Jean La Rose – Guyana
  108. Robert Cuffy – USA
  109. Mark Moseley – Guyana
  110. Derek Gomes – Guyana
  111. Elton McRae – Guyana
  112. Andrew Campbell – Guyana
  113. John Shevrattan – Canada
  114. Shayla Murrell – Barbados
  115. Colin Robinson – CAISO, Trinidad and Tobago
  116. Sasha Robinson – USA
  117. Lisa Outar – USA
  118. Bianca Wagner – Bahamas
  119. Louby Georges – Rights Bahamas, Bahamas
  120. Stephanie Stfleur – Rights Bahamas, Bahamas
  121. Jackson Petit – Bahamas
  122. Granville Knight – Jamaica
  123. Jasmin Renee Wu – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago
  124. Huiming Wu – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago
  125. Celine Leid – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago
  126. Ava Turnquest – Bahamas
  127. Kevon Mc Kenna – Trinidad and Tobago
  128. Winy Marango – Vanutu
  129. Aroona Ramsahai – Trinidad and Tobago
  130. Kenene Senior – Jamaica
  131. Jean-Claude Cournand – 2 Cents Movement, Trinidad and Tobago
  132. Mavis Mainu – Ghana
  133. Soyini Ayanna Forde – Trinidad and Tobago
  134. Alysia Christiani – USA
  135. Namela Baynes-Henry – Rainbow House, Guyana
  136. Tamisha Lee – Jamaica
  137. Natalie Bennett – USA
  138. Jamal Gilbert – Guyana
  139. Rupa Singh – Guyana
  140. Henna Guicherit – Foundation Women’s Rights Center, Suriname
  141. Sandra Latibeaudiere – Jamaica
  142. Shirley Pryce – Jamaica Household Workers Union, Jamaica
  143. Marion Bethel – Bahamas
  144. Carol Narcisse – Jamaica
  145. Nadia Sagar – Guyana
  146. Peta- Anne Baker – UWI, Jamaica
  147. Ruel Johnson – Guyana
  148. Nan Peacocke – Guyana/ St. Vincent and the Grenadines/ Canada
  149. Roslyn John – St. Vincent and the Grenadines/ Canada
  150. Norwell Hinds – Guyana
  151. Thomas Eugene – St. Lucia
  152. Delven Adams – Guyana
  153. Halimah DeShong – St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  154. Bianca Wagner – Equality Bahamas, Bahamas
  155. Ashlee Burnett – The 2 Cents Movement, Trinidad and Tobago
  156. Crystal Brizan – CAFRA, Trinidad and Tobago
  157. Danuta Radzik – Guyana
  158. Adriana Sandrine Isaac-Rattan – International Women’s Resource Network (IWRN), Trinidad and Tobago
  159. Jacqueline Hughes – Trinidad and Tobago
  160. Terrence Blackman – Guyana
  161. Japhet Jackman – Guyana
  162. Margo King – St. Vincent and the Grenadines/ Canada
  163. Alana Benjamin – Antigua & Barbuda
  164. Natasha Yhap – Guyana
  165. Clairmont Mali Chung – Stateless
  166. Dianne Madray – Let The Women Speak, Guyana
  167. Brenda Greaves – St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  168. Sebastian Prescod – Canada
  169. Sally Erdle – St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  170. Maxine Allen – Canada
  171. Sharon Watkis – USA
  172. Lilian Ferrier – Foundation for Human Development, Suriname
  173. Jacqui Alexander – Trinidad and Tobago
  174. Y Deane – Past Chairman Mental Health Commission of Barbados, Barbados
  175. Help and Shelter – Guyana
  176. Leith Dunn – Jamaica
  177. Vanda Radzik – Women’s Rights Advocate, Guyana
  178. Florence Goldson – Belize
  179. Indranie Deyal – Trinidad and Tobago
  180. Wintress White – Red Thread, Guyana
  181. Joy Marcus – Red Thread, Guyana
  182. Halima Khan – Red Thread, Guyana
  183. Vanessa Ross – Red Thread, Guyana
  184. Susan Collymore – Grassroots Women Across Race (GWAR), Guyana
  185. Paul Anthony Odell – USA
  186. Joel Simpson – SASOD, Guyana
  187. Ann Harvey – Guyana
  188. Andrea Weekes – Leave Out Violence Now St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Canada
  189. Dennis Atwell – Guyana
  190. Letitia Pratt – Bahamas
  191. Shorna James – Canada
  192. Amory Cumberbatch – USA
  193. Jeanette Campbell – Jamaica
  194. Sylvia Baker – Bahamas
  195. Kristina Hinds – Barbados
  196. Nicole Charles – Canada
  197. Kaneesha Parsard – USA
  198. Cassandra Lord – Canada
  199. Yusuf Hafejee – Barbados
  200. Gabrielle Hosein – Trinidad and Tobago
  201. Gralyn Frazier – The Bahamas
  202. Susan Mains – Grenada
  203. Leslieann Seegobin – Trinidad and Tobago
  204. Chelsea Foster – Girls of A Feather, St. Lucia
  205. Paul Anthony O’Dell – USA
  206. Roberta Clarke – Trinidad and Tobago
  207. Kaylorn Jones – USA
  208. Marijke Sonneveld – Projekta, Suriname
  209. Antonia Meinecke – Germany
  210. Jennifer Grant Wilson – USA
  211. Mark Dacosta – Guyana
  212. Marilyn Rice-Bowen – Past President, Caribbean Women’s Association
  213. Vanya Martha David – Dominica
  214. Peter Lyte – USA
  215. Nathilee Caldeira – USA
  216. Neish McLean – Jamaica
  217. Marisa Hutchinson – Barbados
  218. Neish McLean – Jamaica
  219. Antoinette Bacchus – USA
  220. Timmia Hearn – USA/ Trinidad and Tobago
  221. Ronald Daniels – Guyana/ Trinidad and Tobago
  222. Anandi A. Premlall – Guyana/ USA
  223. Rajanie Preity Kumar – Canada
  224. Foundation Womens’ Rights Center – Suriname
  225. Quality of Citizenship – Jamaica
  226. Kay Ann – SVU/ ANU
  227. Carla Dougan – UK
  228. Marlene Corbin – USA/ Saint Vincent & the Grenadines
  229. Faith Smith – USA
  230. Kadon Douglas – Grenada/ Canada
  231. Donna Joy Tai – Canada
  232. Karen Gordon – St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  233. Natifa Yorke – St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  234. Kester Thompson – Guyana
  235. Ashley John – Constructive Solutions Inc., St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  236. Ayesha Williams – Trinidad and Tobago
  237. Delroy Williams – Leve Domnik, Dominica
  238. Deirdre Hector – St. Kitts & Nevis / USA
  239. Cyntica Herbert-Fraser – UK
  240. Dale Medford – Barbados
  241. Bernadette Johnson – Bahamas
  242. Cathy Shepherd – Trinidad and Tobago
  243. Garfield Isles – USA
  244. Andrena Emin – St. Vincent/ UK
  245. Cyntica Herbert-Fraser – UK
  246. Khadija Moore – Youth Advocacy Movement, Dominica
  247. Calton Roper – Canada
  248. Shirley Watkis – UK
  249. Wil Campbell – Therapist, Huband, Father, Guyana
  250. Garfield Isles – USA
  251. Jemma John
  252. Rosie Descartes
  253. Coreen Irving
  254. Tamara J Savoury
  255. Cordelia Goodluck
  256. Joan Cuffie
  257. Ernestine Watson
  258. Malaika Slater
  259. Summer Lewis-Clarke
  260. Shanta Grant
  261. Kwame Nkosi Romeo
  262. Marcia Braveboy
  263. Jecliz Walker
  264. Adriana King
  265. Debra Providence
  266. Ajene Eustace
  267. Camille Bradshaw
  268. Beverley Sinclair
  269. Angus Steele
  270. Lorrette Duncan
  271. Joyce Lewis-Cordice
  272. Josette
  273. Winston Lewis
  274. Jamette Pisse
  275. The Bahamas Crisis Centre
  276. Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/ Ecocide Campaign – UK
 Please join us in co-signing this Statement in Solidarity with Yugge Farrell and against abuse of the Mental Health Act of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Although the gross human rights violation of Ms. Yugge Farrell ended this morning when she was finally released from the Mental Health Center of St. Vincent and the Grenadines  where she had been detained and medicated for three weeks, the potential for further abuses remains as long as the Mental Health Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines is not amended. If you would like to add your name as a signatory to this letter, please leave your name, any affiliation, and country in the comments below or email ssnageer [at] yahoo [dot] com.


image source: pinterest

Caribbean Unity in support of Tambourine Army activist Latoya Nugent

Caribbean Unity in support of Tambourine Army activist Latoya Nugent

As concerned members of the Caribbean region and diaspora, we are outraged by the unreasonable and absurd charges of three counts of “malicious communication” under Section 9 (1) of the Cybercrimes Act of 2015 by the Jamaican state towards human rights defender and activist, Latoya Nugent. We are also outraged by the unfair treatment and hostility demonstrated during her arrest in which she was denied medical attention when needed. Further, we believe, as other activists across the region, that Latoya is being charged in direct response to her activism against sexual violence. Specifically, she is being targeted for calling out perpetrators of violence. We are relieved at the most recent news (22nd March) that Latoya’s bail has been extended, yet she still faces charges in court as the Jamaican state attempts to silence her work and the work of other human rights activists. We believe that Latoya is innocent of the charges, and we support her intention to fight them.

We stand with Latoya Nugent and the Tambourine Army. We hope that she will be vindicated by the court. The work of the Tambourine Army is critical to uprooting the scourge of sexual violence and securing the rights and freedom of women and children in Jamaica. This work reflects the recent movement building across the region to end gender based violence. The focus in Jamaica led by the Tambourine Army is on survivor empowerment and breaking silence around sexual abuse and violence against women and girls. This is necessary work in creating change in our communities across the region. The Jamaican state ought to be supporting these efforts instead of targeting activists who dare to speak out against violence.

What happened to Latoya is not specific to Jamaica. Across the Caribbean region, we see an increasing attempt to enact cyber crime and repressive legislation that fails to protect the most vulnerable and the most marginalized in our communities; and instead attempts to silence and criminalize dissent and human rights organizing. When inappropriate images and videos of young girls, boys and children are widely distributed across the internet, the state’s commitment to its own legislation and to human rights remains silent. When lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer and intersex people are bullied and harassed online, where is the state’s commitment to human rights and to its people? The state should not be able to pick and choose whose rights are worth protecting and whose lives are not.

We recognize that the internet is often used as a space for human rights defenders to disseminate information, organize, advocate and mobilize. Accordingly, what we need are digital security frameworks that not only centre, but that protect, human rights. The Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) in its “Our Right to Safety Report”, noted the numbers of “[…] cases in which human rights defenders have been charged with defamation and, in some cases, blasphemy because they have published articles, blog entries or tweets or expressed opinions in public.” Death threats, online stalking, image manipulation and harassment continue to be directed towards human rights defenders through the use of text messages, emails and other digital media platforms. This underscores the need to decriminalize online dissent; we don’t need to be criminalized, we must be protected!

We are all impacted by Latoya’s arrest. As democratic spaces across the Caribbean region continue to shrink, in addition to being accompanied by increasing police and state surveillance and repression, we recognize the urgency and necessity of maintaining spaces for civil disobedience and organizing. We demand that our fundamental human right to resist and mobilize be respected. And we call upon the government of Jamaica, specifically the Director of Public Prosecutions Paula Llewellyn who has taken an interest in this case, to drop all charges against Latoya Nugent.

When the state becomes preoccupied with arresting human rights defenders instead of advocating for the welfare of its people, we the people, are no longer a priority. It is time that we all become a priority. We will not waiver in our support for Latoya. We will remain steadfast in our commitment to human rights and justice. Even when our voices break, we will not be silenced. As Assata Shakur reminds us:

“It is our duty to fight for our freedom.
It is our duty to win.
We must love each other and support each other.
We have nothing to lose but our chains.”
In solidarity and support,

Kimalee Phillip, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
Samantha Peters, advocate and educator
Malaika Brooks-Smith-Lowe, co-founder Groundation Grenada
Damarlie Antoine, educator and feminist
Ayisha John, Groundation Grenada
KizzyAnn Abraham, advocate for Key Populations
Maureen St.Clair, peace educator/activist/artist
Angelique V. Nixon, CAISO sex & gender justice; IGDS UWI Trinidad
Stephanie Leitch, Founder WOMANTRA
Beverly Bain, Lecturer, Feminist activist and educator, University of Toronto
Nicole Hendrickson, co-founder & lead organiser Firecircle
Attillah Springer, writer and activist; Say Something TT
Tonya Haynes, Code Red & Catchafyah Feminist Network; IGDS UWI Barbados
Peter Weller, Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMAN) Jamaica
Amina Doherty, Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)
Caroline Allen, Researcher on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
Alicia Wallace, Director, Equality Bahamas
Gabrielle Hosein, CAFRA; IGDS UWI Trinidad
Hazel Brown, Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women
Renuka Anandjit, IGDS UWI Trinidad
Sunity Maharaj, Side by Side, Trinidad and Tobago
Elysse Marcellin, independent activist
Tyrone Buckmire, Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMAN) Grenada
Abbas Mancey, Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMAN) Guyana/ Canada
Marlon Bascombe, Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMAN) Trinidad and Tobago
Vidyaratha Kissoon, Caribbean Male Action Network (CariMAN) Guyana