Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has condemned a skit done at the PNM's Family Day on Sunday, as an insult and abuse to male Afro-Trinbagonians, woman and Hindu women in particular.
She has called on prime minister Dr keith Rowley to also condemn it.
She issued the call in a statement to the media on Tuesday.
"I have noted with alarm the current heated and passionate national debate surrounding a recent display at the Rowley PNM’s Family Day celebrations, of a so-called ‘skit’ which has essentially attacked three major groups in our democracy and has now reached a point of national furore.
First of all, let me say that I have witnessed and been subjected to many inappropriate, and often vile personal attacks in my over 30 years in politics based on primarily my gender, so I have reached a stage in life and politics where nothing really surprises me.
Having said that, though, I must confess that when I saw that front page picture of the so-called ‘skit’ at the Rowley-led PNM’s Family Day, I was shocked and appalled.
I could not believe that in this day and age, that in these times that we live in, in a world where we are seeing large sections of the population in developed countries like the USA battle for ethnic and gender equality and sensitivity as a social norm and practice, a Governing party of Trinidad and Tobago could see it fit to engage in such an offensive and despicable act.
It is not the first time Dr Rowley and/or senior members of his Government have been accused of blatant sexism and misogyny so their continued assault on the women of this country, which was clearly depicted in their ‘skit’, was expected, though none the less repugnant. But that is the track record of Dr Rowley; he has continuously made derogatory statements against women and is apparently proud of this fact since he appears intent on wearing this disgusting trait as his personal badge of honour.
But since it appears that Dr Rowley is always on a mission to outdo his own shockingly inappropriate and offensive behaviour, this time he has managed to offend not only women, once more, but a major religious group in this country—Hindus—as well as a major ethnic group—the Afro-Trinidadian population, in particular, the Male Afro-Trinidadian population.
You see, that so-called “fun skit”, if I am to quote the Minister of National Security, Stuart Young, himself, constitutes a direct assault on the sacred beliefs of the Hindus; it actually depicts a very sacred scene from the holy Mahabharata text, and whether this was deliberately done or not, the fact remains that it now warrants an immediate apology, because it amounts to a violation of our Constitutional right to freedom of religious worship.
Minister Young, as the newly appointed Minister of National Security is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the safety or our nations mothers, sisters and daughters. For him to consider this travesty as "fun" is frightening as it is atrocious.
But more than that, the ‘skit’ depicts an unwarranted and dangerous propagation of the negative, vile and offensive stereotyping that Afro Trinidadian males have had to endure since the days of slavery and Colonialism against their appearance—that of their physical appearance being depicted as Simians in a coordinated effort to demoralize them.
In the PNM’s Family Day, this offensive stereotype was perpetuated by depicting them in Gorilla costumes perpetuating a vile criminal act of assault against women, thus reinforcing this age-old negative and dangerous racial stereotype. The question which arises is, had the UNC portrayed a skit depicting male PNM supporters as apes, would that be "fun"? The answer would be NO; under no circumstances would this be funny. The only ones who find this fun are Stuart Young and the one percent PNM financiers who seem to have no respect for their own supporters, far less the wider public.
Frankly, this is unforgivable and as leader of the PNM and Prime Minister of this country, Dr Rowley must take ultimate responsibility for this outright vicious attack on the general population of Trinidad and Tobago.
When he took the Oath of Office as an MP, and specifically a Prime Minister of our democratic nation, Dr Rowley swore to uphold, as a matter of duty and law, the Constitution of this country.
This Constitution guarantees the right of all citizens to live, worship and practice their beliefs in freedom, equality, justice and without fear of Government sanctioned discrimination.
Therefore, this wanton attack on the religion of a significant portion of the population; the propagation of negative stereotypes essentially against Afro Trinidadian males and the depiction and endorsement of the criminal act of assault against women constitute a deliberate abuse and misuse of the Constitutional guarantee of equality, fairness and justice afforded to all citizens all at the hands of the Prime Minister of this country.
This is a frightening state of affairs, moreso in a country overridden with crime and criminality; it essentially amounts to an abdication of duty of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago that Rowley swore to uphold.
He has effectively sown the seeds of division and tension in a country already battered by his incompetent, punitive regime and his complete lack of any plan and proper policy to govern any aspect of this country.
In this move, having already surrendered any authority to govern Trinidad and Tobago’s social and economic sectors, he has now surrendered any moral right to do so as well.
I categorically condemn this insult and abuse to Afro-Trinbago males, to all Women and, in particular, Hindu women. I call on Dr. Rowley to do the same."