Solidarity with Yugge Farrell: Regional Statement 

Solidarity with Yugge Farrell: Regional Statement 

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

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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,

Andaiye- Guyana
Karen De Souza- Red Thread, Guyana
Sherlina Nageer, MPH- Guyana
D. Alissa Trotz- Canada
Jospehine Whitehead- Guyana
Angelique V. Nixon- Trinidad and Tobago
Gordon Foote- Guyana
Delores Robinson- GROOTS- Trinidad
Tonya Haynes- Barbados
Gina Singh-Trotz- USA
Akola Thompson- Guyana
Anya Dover- USA
Indera Persaud- Jamaica
Maya Trotz- USA
Ronelle King- Barbados
Julio Thijs- Canada
Verna St Rose Greaves- Trinidad and Tobago
Dr Nastassia Rambarran- Barbados
Mellissa Ifill- Guyana
Salima Bacchus-Hinds- Guyana
Fatimah Jackson-Best- Canada
Stephanie Leitch- Womantra- Trinidad and Tobago
Krysta Bisnauth- Guyana
David Khan- Canada
Mosa Telford- Guyana
Jessica Joseph, (Trindiadian Native)- St. Lucia
Kimalee Phillip- Grenada/ Canada
Lana Finikin- Jamaica
Romola Lucas- USA
Nailah John-Price- Leave Out Violence in St. Vincent and the Grenadines- SVG
Shanya Cordis- Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Spelman College- USA
Marcus Day- St. Lucia
Zina Edwards- Guyana
Karen Philip- Trinidad and Tobago
Savitri Persaud- Canada
Roy Kingston- Guyana
Simone Leid- The Women Speak Project- Trinidad and Tobago
Ayesha Constable- Jamaica
Kala Ramnath- UK
Oluatoyin Alleyne- Guyana
Naicelis Rozema Elkins- USA
Maggie Schmeitz- Stichting Ultimate Purpose- Suriname
Alicia Wallace- Equality Bahamas/Hollback- Barbados
Derwayne Willis- Guyana
Gerhard Ramsaroop, Guyana
Raquel Thomas- Caesar- Guyana
Vidyaratha Kisson- Guyana
Marsha Hinds-Layne- NOW, Barbados
Dawn Van Rossum – Antigua and BarbudaShonnet Moore – Guyana

Lauricia Akeisha Henry – Antigua

Michelle Springer – Barbados

Chantal Antoine – USA

Holly Bynoe – ARC Magazine, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Hilary Nicholson – Video for Change, Jamaica

Vashty Maharaj – Central Beat magazine, Trinidad and Tobago

Tandieka Johnson – USA

Reine Joseph – St. Lucia

Peggy Antrobus – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Honor Ford Smith – Canada/ Jamaica

Alexandrina Wong – Antigua

Marlon Mills – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Marguerite Allen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica

Vanessa Lumbley – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica

Shaneka Allen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica

Althea Cohen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica

Olive Edwards – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica

Eunice Graham – Jamaica

Beverly Bain – Canada/ Trinidad

Jean Lowrie-Chin – Jamaica

Erin Greene, CAFRA – Bahamas

Ann Maria Diran – Suriname

Marsha Hinds-Layne – NOW, Barbados

Maria Fontenelle – ECADE, Eastern Caribbean

Randall Theodule – St. Lucia

Majhon John – USA

Maxine Allen – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Cherrise Mcdowall – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Jermain Ostiana – Curacao

Diane Cummins – Conscious Exchanges, Barbados

Nicole S. Hendrickson – Firecircle!, Trinidad and Tobago

Judith Weederburn – Jamaica

Keturah Cecelia Babb – Order of Nyahbinghi, Dominica/ Jamaica

Sendy Brown – Canada

Arielle Aska – Antigua

Patricia Sheerettan-Bisnauth – Guyana

Sharda Ganga – PROJECKTA Citizens’ Initiative for Participation and Good Governance, Suriname

Mark Jacobs – Guyana

Nadeen Spence – Jamaica

Nesha Edwards – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Catherine Sealys – Raise Your Voice, St. Lucia

Jamela Khan – Trinidad and Tobago

Carinya Sharples – Guyana

Priscila Francisco Pascoal – Brazil

Audrey Roberts – Bahamas

Emma Lewis – Jamaica

Ruth Osman Rose – Trinidad and Tobago

Beverly Nelson – Grenada

N’Delamiko Lord – Trinidad/ Barbados

Melissa Matthews – Trinidad and Tobago

Linnette Vassell – Jamaica

Bridget Lewis – Canada

Joan French – Jamaica

Ulelli Verbeke – Guyana

Jean La Rose – Guyana

Robert Cuffy – USA

Mark Moseley – Guyana

Derek Gomes – Guyana

Elton McRae – Guyana

Andrew Campbell – Guyana

John Shevrattan – Canada

Shayla Murrell – Barbados

Colin Robinson – CAISO, Trinidad and Tobago

Sasha Robinson – USA

Lisa Outar – USA

Bianca Wagner – Bahamas

Louby Georges – Rights Bahamas, Bahamas

Stephanie Stfleur – Rights Bahamas, Bahamas

Jackson Petit – Bahamas

Granville Knight – Jamaica

Jasmin Renee Wu – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago

Huiming Wu – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago

Celine Leid – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago

Ava Turnquest – Bahamas

Kevon Mc Kenna – Trinidad and Tobago

Winy Marango – Vanutu

Aroona Ramsahai – Trinidad and Tobago

Kenene Senior – Jamaica

Jean-Claude Cournand – 2 Cents Movement, Trinidad and Tobago

Mavis Mainu – Ghana

Soyini Ayanna Forde – Trinidad and Tobago

Alysia Christiani – USA

Namela Baynes-Henry – Rainbow House, Guyana

Tamisha Lee – Jamaica

Natalie Bennett – USA

Jamal Gilbert – Guyana

Rupa Singh – Guyana

Henna Guicherit – Foundation Women’s Rights Center, Suriname

Sandra Latibeaudiere – Jamaica

Shirley Pryce – Jamaica

Marion Bethel – Bahamas

Carol Narcisse – Jamaica

Nadia Sagar – Guyana

Peta- Anne Baker – UWI, Jamaica

Ruel Johnson – Guyana

Nan Peacocke – Guyana/ St. Vincent and the Grenadines/ Canada

Roslyn John – St. Vincent and the Grenadines/ Canada

Norwell Hinds – Guyana

Thomas Eugene – St. Lucia

Delven Adams – Guyana

Halimah DeShong – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

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.

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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

#lifeinleggings Call for feminist solidarity

lifeinleggings

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:

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:

BBC AUDIO: Caribbean women taking power back

VIDEO: She look fuh dat: a #lifeinleggings discussion

Yardie skeptics radio

#lifeinleggings impact monumental

A Weekend of Street Harassment, Mapped

The Bahamas: Interview with Founder of Life in Leggings

Life in Leggings Founders speak about mission

Video of #lifeinleggings discussion in Barbados

Anonymous #lifeinleggings submissions

Female politicians speak out about #lifeinleggings

Reggae Star Tanya Stephens Opens Up about Being Raped and Abused

Singer Tanya Stephens opens up about being raped twice

Caribbean Women Take Their Power Back

Minister shares her #lifeinleggings story

Trini women join lifeinleggings movement

The woke side of Bajan social media

Lifeinleggings sparking conversation across the Caribbean

Leve Dominik campaign allowing victims to share stories anonymously

Further reading from CODE RED for gender justice!

How Little Girls Get Crushed

The Facts of Life: Rape has been decriminalized in the Caribbean

Man caah run a rape joke again?

Rum and Rape Culture

Getting it wrong on rape or no sperm, no rape or why a two-year-old girl doesn’t need to be taught modesty

Help Haitians, not the Disaster Capitalists

Tillah Willah

Disaster time again, for our sisters and brothers in Haiti. Already the vultures circle, using this tragedy as another opportunity to take advantage or worse, to engage in the pornography of suffering black bodies.

Now is not the time for tears, hand-wringing, there are lots of organisations that are quietly doing good work in Haiti that does not line the pockets of multinational aid corporations,  or continue to fatten the Port au Prince elite.

The following is a list I’ve compiled thanks to friends in Haiti and its diaspora.  Please do your own research on the organisations listed below. I’ll keep updating it as more info emerges.

Donations in Trinidad 

A group of citizens are doing a non-organisational collection of items from Monday 10th October. Collection/Drop-off point will be at the Veni Mangé Restaurant 67A Ariapita Ave, Woodbrook.

ITNAC Trinidad based organisation sending volunteers soon to Haiti asking for donations…

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What is this black in #blackfeminisms?

Polish 800m runner, Joanna Jozwik is reported as saying she felt like a silver medalist even though she placed fifth:

“I’m glad I’m the first European, the second white.”

The top three places in the 800m went to African women: South Africa’s Caster Semenya, Burundi’s  Francine Niyonsaba and Kenya’s Margaret Wambui.

By Jozwik’s logic these three African women are not women. The only women are white women which is why she states that she is proud to be the second white to cross the finish line.

The category “woman” is saturated with whiteness, with white femininity.   Black women’s exclusion from this category also marks our exclusion from the human.

Radical black Caribbean intellectual, Sylvia Wynter argues that the project of Black Studies that emerged in the 1960s was NOT one of an ethnic studies a la multiculturalism but the undoing of the entire system of Western thought itself and the racist, ecological and anti-human violence which it supports.

That must be the goal of any feminism worth having. Not leaning in to an unsustainable lifestyle based on consumption on white, Western bourgeois terms.

Garinagu involvement in revolutionary movements in Honduras similarly identifies the confluence of white supremacy and global capitalist interests in ecological destruction, repressive violence against activists and threats to the livity of Indigenous and African peoples. As Miriam Miranda states:

We have to challenge this model of living, because it is a predatory one, a murderous one which dehumanises us.

Black feminisms ask:

How do we create a world where we value each other, all human and non-human animals and the environment of which we are a part?

How do we create a world where the most marginalized among us can learn to trust our own consciousness?

A world which recognises multiple ways of being and being human.

A world that makes rural living sustainable.

A world that recognises Black and Indigenous Peoples’ right to be.

A world without prisons, warfare, violence.

A world where gender is not a source of violence.

A world that is not disabling.

Black feminisms is not an ethnicized, separatist, compartmentalised standpoint. It is not a sedimented, essentialist, atavistic identity politics.  (Don’t let the white supremacists nor the black nationalists fool you.)

Black feminisms and the solidarity communities we make with the sources of our strength, these are the feminisms and movements that we need now.

View the #blackfeminisms blog carnival entries here and submit your own stories.

Learn more about AWID’s Black Feminisms Forum here.  CODE RED for gender justice is proud to be a Black Feminisms Forum content partner.