Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar yesterday condemned what have been termed a degrading statement against women by Opposition Leader Dr Keith Rowley earlier this week. Speaking during an International Women’s Day observance at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s, last night, Persad-Bissessar described Rowley’s comments as disgraceful.
“It is never appropriate to blur the lines of propriety simply because it suits us. It is never appropriate to use colloquial double speak in a manner that is wholly insulting and derogatory to women and expect this to be passed off as just politics,” she told the large group of women. In an obvious reference to Rowley’s Carnival wine with South teenager Ravina Rampersad, another issue which drew divided commentary from the public, she added: “It is never appropriate to use a festive or party event to condone inappropriate behaviour and disrespect for young women.”
After being applauded, the PM said: “It is not and could never be okay. It is disgraceful. “There is no negotiation about blurring lines of responsibility, propriety and appropriate behaviour regardless to whether you are on a political platform or you are off a political platform.” Persad-Bissessar said Rowley’s statement “was an attack on all women in our nation and I condemn those remarks made on Tuesday night.”
She said those issues should be dealt with “head-on, straight-on, confront them because that is what people are concerned about…what is better, which policy is better and which issue will bring benefit.” Saying she would not be the guide in the matter, Persad-Bissessar said she “believes that every sensible woman would be offended and would see the comments as disgusting and outrageous.” She advised those present to “take a look and listen to those comments for yourselves and be the judge.”
Speaking during the PNM’s cottage meeting in La Horquetta/Talparo on Tuesday, Rowley told the gathering: “She could jump high, she could jump low. She could drink this, she could drink that. She could bark at my dog because I will ignore she kyat.” Rowley has been criticised for the comments and the issue will be discussed by the Code of Ethics Committee next week. The comments have been met with mixed responses by the public, with some seeing it as colloquial tongue in cheek language while others have found it to be offensive.