Enough is enough

During the recent press conference held in St John’s, Antigua on Wednesday, 16th July, 2014 at the start of the CPL games here, West Indies cricketer Chris Gayle made a very uncalled for and sexist statement to a question posted to him by one of the female journalist.

While Gayle was way out of line it was also very sad to hear those in attendance laughing at his comments in support. While Gayle made his comments he was also reminded by someone in the audience to please stick to the question at hand.

While some may say and agree that it was a joke, we have to be very vigilant and serious about persons like Chris Gayle who is seen not only as a cricketer, but as a role model not only for our males but also our females. I am very much aware that while we live in a patriarchal society over the years there has been a revolution whereby our women and girls are not seen as men’s possession or only subjected to the realms of the home but have been able to excel in all areas of society.

As a nation, we are signatory to a number of international conventions and treaties that recommend that we make amendments to our laws that will eliminate the gender disparities that exist within our society. Some of those conventions include the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), the Beijing Platform for Action, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). CEDAW is regarded as the most important international mechanism for women’s equality.

It addresses physical, sexual, economic, and political abuses against women and promotes women’s equality of rights and well-being. It is also about women being able to exercise the same human rights as men; CEDAW is a blueprint for those seeking justice; CEDAW empowers women in other nations by enabling them to bring national attention and point to an international standard of human rights for the treatment of women. The treaty is an essential tool for creating a dialogue and awareness of women’s basic human rights.

Having said all that the million dollar question is how does the CEDAW convention affects us here in the region and more so in Antigua and Barbuda? It affects us by ensuring that government along with non state actors work together to ensure the pillars on which such convention was form is upheld in its highest regards.

The recent statement made by Chris Gayle should not be taken lightly since he was speaking not only in his own persona, but also representing the CPL. Since the CPL is about regional cricket, then it is fair to state that the statement affects not only the women in our region, but also shows the lack of disrespect that role models such as Gayle has for our females.

CPL has issued a press release which in itself lacks fundamentals on which to stand. For one, it is like they are making Gayle a hero for his statement; next we will hear for such a statement he is being honoured with national accolades. To make matters worse, they are cognizant of the fact that women make up the majority of supporters, yet still it’s okay for him to make such a statement without a public apology.

The statement is sexist as it was in a language that is an offensive reminder of the way the culture sees women. Sexism in our society keeps women disempowered, and supports the patriarchal structures and practices that exist, thereby maintaining the status quo. Regardless of Gayle’s intentions or the reaction of the other individuals at the press conference, including that of the female journalist, it is still reprehensible and as a society we should not tolerate or accept it, no matter from whom it is coming.

We need to use our sports figures such as Chris Gayle as positive conduits as a medium to influence social norms, change, and convey messages that violence against women and girls can never be tolerated. How much longer are we, as a society that speaks so much about human rights, gender equality/equity, social justice, women’s empowerment are going to let boys and men make remarks that only belittle our women/girls and keep silent?

For too long we have been sitting idly by and doing nothing. It’s about time we start doing something; if not then the same cycle which you speak about will just continue and it would be more rooted within our society.

We have to be the Rosa Parks in our nation where we take a stand against such even if we stand alone.