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Gerald Aboud.

Pepper spray should be easily accessible to women and girls without excessively prohibitive conditions – including regarding permits – which might make the wait for the protection long and jeopardise applicants who have urgent need of protection.

This is the view of “We The People” activist and chief executive officer of the Starlite Group of Companies, Gerald Aboud.

Government recently announced that the spray will be approved as protection. It will be used in a regulated framework requiring a permit. Proposals will go to Cabinet on Thursday.

We The People (WTP) involves members of non-governmental organisations and religious groups.

Aboud said the group gives voice to those who have none. WTP had been examining issues in T&T over time and earlier this month launched a digital petition appealing for pepper spray use and offering other recommendations – including on transport – to improve peoples’ lives.

While pepper spray calls were heeded, he said in view of the downward spiralling economy much more must be done.

“What’s the plan? We haven’t seen or felt much beyond shifting between COVID handling. More and more are falling victim to various situations in T&T’s circumstances.”

“What we saw recently with people emerging is a sign of their feelings. It’s existed for years and is a sign of T&T’s slow decline. Both political sides must know this.”

WTP was outside of Parliament recently demanding justice for victims of crimes following the murder of Arima court clerk Andrea Bharatt.

The group arrived after police had earlier told other protestors to stand behind the fence in Woodford Square. Aboud and another man were detained by police while demonstrating on the pavement opposite Parliament. The two were later released.

On the pepper spray issue, Aboud said, “Hopefully the conditions to obtain protection wouldn’t be onerous enough to prevent women and girls from easily getting the protection. If the person feels their life is in immediate risk, will permit application time remove the device’s convenience factor and reduce the effectiveness of getting the spray on time? It might.”

“When a woman needs the pepper spray immediately will she have access to it and how easy will it be to actually get the permit, time being a factor? These are critical questions.”

He pointed out that the spray can also boost T&T’s pepper industry and make T&T a regional source for pepper spray manufacture. Gail Alexander