Guest post

Good evening. Allow me to introduce myself. I am Elmer, 22 year old Belizean youth that comes from a humble yet hard working family. Today it is important for me to share my story with you. I am speaking on the impact that my mother’s teenage pregnancy had on me, her son, the product of that pregnancy for a man ten years older than her. But I also want you to know that all four of my mother’s sisters found themselves being a mother in their teen years. I always said that if my mom could have only access sexual and reproductive health services in her adolescent years I would have escaped all the sexual abuses that have scarred my life forever. I know I have no right to judge my mother, but when I was born I knew not that I would never enjoy of my childhood years. Why you may ask? Well, mom was poor she had to work. That means she had to leave me in the care of someone who happened to be my grandmother who ironically should love me for the mere fact that I am her first grandchild. Nonetheless, it was not so. My grandmother hated me, the offspring of a teen pregnancy and the product of an outside marriage. She treated me badly. One day I clearly recall that grandma took me by my legs and slammed me against the wall; I burst my head. That mark still remains in the back of my head. This was the treatment I received for the first three years of my life. I was glad when mom enrolled me at preschool, it would mean I would be away from grandma almost all day. I hated my grandma and for many days questioned God why this had to be for me. Several times I wanted to take away my life. No one was there for me. No one! I often wondered why the poor people could not enjoy of utmost health services as the rich do; why the poor are often turned when asking or seeking professional help especially sexual and reproductive health services.

At age 7 I was sexually abused the first time. Since then it happened several times, however mom did not know. I was abused sexually by my neighbor’s wife, two uncles and a friend’s father. The worries and stress was just too much for me. I hated my uncles and the people who took away my childhood.

Today I stand in front of all of you and I say that these experiences molded me to be the Elmer that speaks to each one of you. I keep striving for a healthy future for my family and even the entire world. Today I serve as the Secretary of the Board of directors of GOJoven Belize alumni Association which has been in operation since 2011 serving the youth population of Belize in sexual and reproductive health and environmental consciousness programs. I also serve as the president of the National Aids Commission/ Country Coordinating Mechanism in my district. I love working for youth development and have shown it to this end and will continue to do so till my physical allows me to. My dream is to one day have all persons regardless of their age, ethnicity, color of skin, economic status, sexual orientation, to have free access to sexual and reproductive health and that their sexual rights, in fact all their rights are respected.

This testimony is published with the author’s permission.  It was delivered at the CARICOM/UNFPA High Level Meeting on Adolescent Pregnancy which took place in Trinidad & Tobago on December 9, 2013.  Elmer decided to grant permission for it to be published in the hope that “it would reach someone that would identify themselves with my experience.” The entire text and title are his own words.

Caribbean politician denounces use of contraceptive pill


Are sexual and reproductive health and rights under threat in the Caribbean?

Young people, men and women, boys and girls do not get the comprehensive sexuality education which they need to make informed choices about their sexuality.  Child sexual abuse continues to be a major human rights violation in countries across the region.  Access to safe termination of pregnancy differs from country to country. Even in countries where abortion is legal, such as Guyana, that does not translate to access to safe abortion.  The main public hospital does not offer abortion services so “bottom-house” abortion clinics operate, claiming lives.  We are no where close to ending discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.

Against this background, the Tribune 242 reported that Bahamian politician, Rodney Moncur, declared that women who use the contraceptive pill are murderers who should be hung. (On the comments section of this blog someone who identified himself as Mr. Moncur stated that this report is inaccurate and he never advocated capital punishment for women who take birth control).  “Let man’s sperm ‘bust’ through those pills and the woman take seed. Woman, thou art commanded to take seed, become pregnant and renounce those evil cancerous birth control pills,” it is reported that he wrote.

Here are a few of his tweets, in all caps just as they appeared in the @RodneyMoncur twitter feed (unverified twitter account):




This misogyny requires no deconstruction.  But just in case you missed his message, here’s the breakdown:

Post-1966 the pill turned Bahamian women into sluts. Women were made to have sex with men only, to submit to men and to bear children. Absolutely nothing else.  If you are a woman, you should be married to a man and you should go and make a baby TONIGHT.  If you and your partner choose to use contraception, you, woman, are a murderer and you should be put to death by hanging.  FYI, you cannot be a Christian and use the pill.

Got it?

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Edited to add:

Here are two reports about the twitter rant but none of them makes reference to women who use birth control as murderers:

This Tribune 242 article states: “He referred to women who use oral contraceptives as “murderers” who should be hanged, as they are touched by the devil’s evil hands.” (paragraph 6)

EDITOR”S NOTE: Earlier this week this heading of this blog post read: “Caribbean politician proposes death penalty for women who use the pill.”  This heading was based on the Tribune 242 article referenced above which contained the following line:  “He referred to women who use oral contraceptives as “murderers” who should be hanged, as they are touched by the devil’s evil hands.” Someone who identified himself as Rodney Moncur denied that he ever said this.  I looked through his twitter feed and was unable to find any tweets which stated that women who use birth control should be hung.  This post has been edited to reflect these developments.

The Good, Bad and the Ugly of Caribbean feminist, gender & sexuality news this week

Here are some of the top stories in Caribbean feminist and gender news for Jan 1-9, 2012:

The Good

Guyana to begin vaccinating girls against HPV this week!  This month is Cervical Cancer Awareness month.  What a great way to begin the month! Time for the other Caribbean countries to follow Guyana’s lead!

WIN-Belize is in the process of revitalizing its Young Women Mentorship Program and you can get involved.

Some Good, Some Bad

Dominica and The Bahamas have been ranked among the top 10 ethical destinations in the developing world for 2012. Countries were evaluated in three main categories: environmental protection, social welfare and human rights. Dominica was lauded for its renewable energy policy and for being one of the few Caribbean nations to sign a statement of LGBTQ rights at the UN in 2011. The Bahamas received kudos for its commitment to shark conservation. Both Dominica and The Bahamas were ranked highly in terms of political rights, civil liberties and press freedom. Barbados was on last year’s list, but wasn’t included in the 2012 ranking; the reason given was that the government has not shown itself to be committed to its promises of environmental protection and sustainability.

The Bad

Woman in Guyana dies after unsafe abortion even though abortion has been legal there since 1996. Former Minister of Health says that women may be uninformed about certified abortion providers.

The Ugly

JLP described PM Portia Simpson Miller’s decision to appoint three women to the Cabinet as ‘jobs for the girls’.Three woman cabinet members dismissed as illegitimate, unnecessarily costly excess baggage just because they are women, no, girls!

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CODE RED is a feminist collective of Caribbean women and men. We are the only online source for daily updates and aggregation of Caribbean news and links related to feminist, gender and sexuality issues (via our facebook page)