Bring the pepper spray legislation and the Opposition United National Congress will support it – but the party still has concerns about the Anti-Gang bill being debated in the Senate on Tuesday morning.
And there still isn’t equality of pay for women, a gender policy, or policy against sexual harassment in the workplace.
Opposition leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar raised those issues at Monday night’s UNC virtual report, which featured a special platform of female speakers marking yesterday’s International Women’s Day.
Persad-Bissessar, who noted reports of a 70-year-old woman being raped, called for Government to legalise the pepper spray use to help “… your daughters, mothers, sisters… at least give women something to hold in your hand.”
“It may not kill but it might delay some attack – if you serious about helping women bring the pepper spray law,” Persad-Bissessar said.
Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s said the pepper spray proposal will be brought to Cabinet this week.
Persad-Bissessar said Government’s Anti-Gang bill being debated in the Senate today was something the People’s National Movement only brought out when their back “is to the wall.” She said while there are criminals, the proposed bill would break constitutional provisions on liberty, deprivation of property and due process.
“That (Anti-Gang) law was there so long and not a person was convicted with it, so you mamaguy people crying crocodile tears in the Senate on this,” she said.
“You see their priority? But not for the pepper spray law…a foolish minister say it more dangerous than a gun! The nonsense these deadbeat ministers talk!”
She questioned what had happened to the gender policy.
“Where’s the policy against sexual harassment in the workplace … (and this is needed for men too). What about equality of pay? Nothing done!”
Persad-Bissessar gave women two pieces of advice, “Get up and get – don’t wait for handouts. And by hook or crook: get your education.”
Knocking Government’s statements on International Women’s Day, she said the Prime Minister spoke of women in terms of “grooming” and “golf courses.”
“The most offensive statements about women … you call for respect for T&T yet have none for women.”
Persad-Bissessar said T&T’s pandemic is the PNM. Saying the UNC would not be shut up, she added, “We’ll be in your faces night and day, we won’t allow you a free pass!”
She commended activists doing marches peacefully after recent murders.
“The activism which has arisen – don’t let it die.”
Trashing Newsday’s editor and a recent editorial against India regarding vaccines, she said T&T had historical ties with India well before Independence. Persad- Bissessar questioned why Newsday was breaching diplomatic channels and hadn’t written editorials against Venezuela or China.
Companies putting profits over workers – Jearlean
UNC deputy leader Jearlean John, who noted women losing jobs and being disproportionately affected in the pandemic’s economic fallout, said large companies in oligarchic arrangements are still declaring super-normal profits.
“… So is profits before people!”
She questioned the latest COVID vaccines expected for T&T – 33,600 which would only cater for 15,000 people
“At the rate we’re going, we go dead from old age. It will take 14 years to vaccinate the whole of T&T. They find it much easier to run T&T lockdown! And now you might need a vaccine passport, if you don’t have a card that says you got the vaccine you have to stay here.”
MP Kadijah Ameen also knocked Government’s attitude towards women.
“You Keith Rowley are a poor example to boys and men in this country. Your words encourage violence against women! You, as a leader, must be more responsible to encourage protection of women.”