Month: March 2019

Legislative Hammer cannot solve sex assaults

Speak­ing at the In­ter­na­tion­al Women’s Day sem­i­nar held at the Susamachar Pres­by­ter­ian Church, Seep­er­sad-Bachan said the pa­tri­ar­chal sys­tem and the so­cio-cul­tur­al norms of T&T have con­tributed to the plight of women.

She said women con­tin­ue to face ex­ploita­tion even though nu­mer­ous laws have been passed to pro­tect their rights.

“Many laws have been passed in this coun­try se­cur­ing prop­er­ty rights for women, for ex­am­ple, the Co­hab­i­ta­tion Act which gives women rights to prop­er­ty even if they are in a com­mon-law re­la­tion­ship. It is very pro­gres­sive leg­is­la­tion yet we still have that gen­der gap with on­ly 14 per cent of women own­ing land. Land is an eco­nom­ic pow­er, so women are not be­ing eco­nom­i­cal­ly pow­ered,” she said. Seep­er­sad-Bachan said sin­gle moth­ers con­tin­ues to live be­low the pover­ty line.

“We have 60 NGO’s to sup­port vic­tims of rape and sex­u­al as­sault yet we con­tin­ue to see ex­ploita­tion, abuse and dis­crim­i­na­tion,” she added.

She not­ed that laws alone were not suf­fi­cient to ad­vance the plight of women.

“I went through all the laws to deal with sex­u­al of­fences and all those cre­at­ed to stop do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and sex­u­al as­sault. The bot­tom line is the leg­isla­tive ham­mer can­not solve these prob­lems. As much as we want to go to Par­lia­ment and pass laws, this is not the so­lu­tion. The so­lu­tion lies with­in our own so­cio-cul­tur­al norms. We have to break past the lega­cies of a pa­tri­ar­chal so­ci­ety and the norms left by colo­nial­ism. We have to think equal, build smart and in­no­vate for a change. We have to dis­rupt these so­cio-cul­tur­al norms if we are to achieve that bal­ance by 2030,” she added.

Asked to ex­plain how this could be done, Seep­er­sad-Bachan said women’s groups must en­ter in­to com­mu­ni­ties and break the cy­cle.