Say what I95.5?! Women respond to “feminist” attacks after Tim Kee scandal

The following open letter is directed to Ralph Maraj and Darian Marcelle for alleged comments made towards women activists and feminists during “The Afternoon Drive” on I95.5 FM.

This letter was sent by: Jacquie Burgess, Merle Hodge, Dr Sheila Rampersad, Attillah Springer, Eintou Springer, Folade Mutota and Verna St Rose Greaves.

Photo: Protests against Port of Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee in Woodford Square. (Courtesy Facebook)
Photo: Protests against Port of Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee in Woodford Square.
(Courtesy Facebook)

An open letter to the hosts of The Afternoon Drive on I95.5FM:


You really need to inform yourselves a little better before you wash your mouth on specific people or groups in our society, as you have done in this week beginning 15 February 2016.

You have been freely insulting the women who demonstrated to demand Mayor Tim Kee’s resignation, with your onslaught spreading to women activists in general/ the women’s movement/ feminists.

(As an aside, men who utter the word “feminist” as though they were cussing, or spitting out phlegm, are often those who harbour some insecurity about their manness.)

Your discourse betrays a great haziness about women’s activism in Trinidad and Tobago. As media practitioners speaking from an influential public platform, it is your responsibility to be informed before you speak.

Photo: Late Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya performs with Silver Stars at the 2016 Panorama. (Courtesy Facebook)
Photo: Late Japanese pannist Asami Nagakiya performs with Silver Stars at the 2016 Panorama.
(Courtesy Facebook)

Perhaps, though, it is easier to just grab on to the name of one visible activist—Hazel Brown—and constantly demonise her.

“Not a word from Hazel Brown,” says Mr Marcelle, referring to some issue he thinks she should be speaking out on.

You renting Hazel mouth? What obligation does she have to speak at your behest?

It is the most dotish thing to hear talk show hosts using up precious air time to foam at the mouth about who should be saying what on which issue, and cussing them for not doing so.

You gentlemen are accusing us of having no interest in domestic violence, because we haven’t organised any demonstration against the abuse suffered by Ms Rachael Sukhdeo.

You even want us to go and protest against the killing of Mr Clement in Moruga, as a “real issue” for us to tackle.

Photo: Late journalist and television host, Marcia Henville. (Courtesy Mark Lyndersay)
Photo: Late journalist and television host, Marcia Henville.
(Courtesy Mark Lyndersay)

The sentiments of Mr Ralph Maraj: The abuse of Rachael Sukhdeo is a “juicy case,” such an excellent opportunity for women’s rights activists; but these activists are not genuinely concerned about abused women. 

Why don’t you women mount some kind of public awareness campaign about domestic violence? It’s not too late. You can still do it.

Well, Ralph Maraj, who died and put you in charge of our workplan and our modus operandi? How condescending, how presumptuous!

You don’t know who we are, what we do, or what we have done, but you want to tell us what the real issues for us are and what to do about them?

So we don’t have brains of our own?

Photo: Former PNM Minister Ralph Maraj (right). (Courtesy
Photo: Former PNM Minister Ralph Maraj (right).

For your information, it is decades of public awareness work by women activists, impacting on people’s thinking as well as on public policy, that have led to the following:

  • That you gentlemen in the studio have the consciousness that you do today about domestic violence and (hopefully) other gender issues. Don’t take it for granted, or assume that this consciousness has always been part of the society’s thinking.
  • That there is legislation in place today about domestic violence.
  • That training has been done among police officers to equip them for dealing with domestic violence.
  • That shelters and counselling centres have been set up by NGOs, mostly through the activism of women, for people affected by family violence.
  • That certain institutions have come into existence, such as the Rape Crisis Society; the Police Child Protection Unit; the Police Witness and Victim Support Unit; the Family Court; the UWI Institute for Gender and Development Studies; the Ministry of Gender and Child Development; and the Children’s Authority.
  • That there now exists protection for children in the Children Act (2012); the Children’s Authority Act; the Children’s Community Residences, Foster Care and Nurseries Act; and the Adoption of Children (Amendment) Act.
  • That any women at all are now emboldened to speak out about being abused and to seek help.
Photo: A female victim of domestic abuse.
Photo: A female victim of domestic abuse.

We work quietly. These are some of our strategies:

  • We go all over the country and hold workshops and conversations with groups of people in their communities.
  • We work through vigils, popular theatre, the media.
  • We engage in lobbying and advocacy.
  • We commemorate relevant UN days of observance, for example, International Women’s Day (March 8), and the Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (November 25), involving, among other activities, a march through Port of Spain, with some men along the route telling us (like you) what we should be doing, e.g. “Why allyuh don’t go home and cook allyuh husband food.”
Photo: A woman cowers in the face of her assailant in the depiction of a domestic abuse incident.
Photo: A woman cowers in the face of her assailant in the depiction of a domestic abuse incident.

We don’t often make use of the street demonstration strategy, but when we find it necessary, we do. We, not you, will determine that.

You expect of us a street demonstration for each situation of domestic violence. Do you have any idea of the volume of such situations?

Please, let us decide for ourselves how we are going to use the energy and the minimal resources that we have. Don’t dictate to us.

You gentlemen want to give us instructions regarding what to do about domestic violence, but what are you doing about it?

Violence against women is not an issue for only women to act upon. The Rape Crisis Society, for example, has been trying to get more men to come in and be trained as volunteer counsellors to staff their hotline call centre.

Photo: A victim of domestic violence. (Courtesy
Photo: A victim of domestic violence.

The men who have been working with Rape Crisis over the years are to be highly commended; but there is room for many more.

Tell us: what work have you done?

The women who demonstrated are seen by Mr Marcelle as having done it “to fulfil agendas of their own—political and other agendas.”

Well, Mr Marcelle, you have, indeed, done your darnedest to politicise the event, reducing it to a PNM-versus-the-enemy affair. Do you think we give a rat’s tail that Mr Tim Kee is PNM?

Do you think women would have failed to protest against what he said if he were UNC or of some other persuasion?

Photo: Former Port of Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee (second from left) and councillor Farai Hove Masaisai. (Courtesy Farai Hove Masaisai/Facebook)
Photo: Former Port of Spain mayor Raymond Tim Kee (second from left) and councillor Farai Hove Masaisai.
(Courtesy Farai Hove Masaisai/Facebook)

The “political agenda” accusation is an unfortunate, uninformed and insulting one, but predictable. What is harder to fathom is your impassioned cry: “Don’t let those people take us to Sodom and Gomorrah!”

Say what, Mr Marcelle?

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  1. Ralph Maraj and Darian Marcel are passé. Why are we wasting our time with them here?

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  3. ……these women are picking and choosing which woman deserve their protesting time….it is as simple as that….

  4. Jedd…feminist will literally silence men if they continue with this shit. People have a right to an opinion. Ignore it if u don’t like it. Stop being so sensitive.

    • I appreciate more and more that a lot of females are toting unresolved issues and are in need of help.

      They are ganging up in an attempt to change their shame to rage, and are now using that rage to try and transfer their shame to males. And, since they cannot deal with their own issue, Gender Male would have to do.

      So, they are prepared to shower their Hate on all men. After all – ‘all man bad’ as they say.

  5. Nothing more than Canon fodder and thunder stealing.

  6. This feminist group making statements about the hosts ‘manness’, lol. But ranting about what… Like it is open season now ..anything goes.

  7. Only Hazel Brown didn’t issue this statement. I can’t remember seeing her make a press release at all.
    And if someone from the press got her number and gave her a call, then what can she say? God bless Ray?
    I agree with what you say about her having lost some moral authority in the last five years. But still…

  8. Hazel Brown is one of the messengers who will be shot on sight! I tell you we really have to be careful about killing all the messengers! Their problem is that their history over the last 5 years left them with no moral authority to make a statement about anything but they are in the position where statements will need to be made.

  9. The funny thing is I never saw this Tim Kee thing as a feminist matter really. Just common sense.
    What does it matter what a woman is wearing when she is murdered? And how can you make such flippant and uninformed presumptions about a woman’s behaviour and ask people to “let their imaginations roll” when asked about a murder in your city?
    That is just bleeding common sense to me.
    Somehow that enddc up with people bad talking Hazel Brown on the radio yes.
    Well, I lorse on this one. But say what. Can’t win them all.

  10. Yup, it’s time to wrap this up.

    I hope nobody on this forum or any members of your family ever has the misfortune to be assaulted. If they do (and I truly hope that does not happen) and they were brave enough to report it and put the cretin that did it to you or your family on trial, I hope that the vast majority of the people sitting on that jury are people who will look ONLY at the solid investigative evidence against the ACCUSED. Not looking at you or your family member who are the victims and making personal judgments about your lifestyle, your way of dress, your sexuality, your history and determining somewhere in the back of their mind that maybe you asked for it by not living up to standards they believe you should be living by.

    I can only imagine how many of our people have been denied justice because of that kind of mentality in our country. Not just women who were victims but men too.

  11. So who will set proper examples since our politicians have failed us

  12. We would like to acknowledge the outpouring of concern for Rachael Sukdeo following her posts yesterday detailing her abuse.

    We regret that her very public course of action functioned as a last resort, due to the inaction of the police force.

    Unfortunately we know that many women are dismissed by the authorities in similar instances and much work is needed in the area of gender training and sensitivity in cases of domestic abuse.

    We are hoping that other recent incidents such as the murder of Asami Nagakiya has highlighted the need for the extensive training of our government officials and protective services.

    Womantra is not a direct provider of services for domestic abuse victims but we do act as an information resource for folks who are in need of advice or direction on how to access services in an abusive situation.

    We have started building a resource document, which you can access in our group in the FILE section.


  13. And another thing, Mr. Marcelle–unlike you, not all of us have a political agenda.

  14. I am surprised that there are those who’d waste valuable time listening to the likes of those males of the species. Darian, in the formative years of his radio career would bray, “I love my country”; turns out that he loves his party much, much more.

  15. Eff eff eff eff eff eff eff !!!!!!!

  16. Cuz it have a heavy eff waiting under mih tongue and ah not sure how much longer it can be contained reading dotish comments

  17. Well, just scroll on by if you are fed up.


  19. The police advise you that seeing there are bandits lurking around, do not leave your hadbag or laptop on you car seat because it will cause them to break in and remove it.
    In other words, do not tempt them into stealing your property.
    That is good advice that I follow religiously.

  20. Allyuh attack everybody who form an opinion against allyuh disgustung stinking behavior and political agenda, we make allyuh out, the aporoach allyuh taking will be very unpopular even with women.

  21. It is not your right to expose yourself on the road.
    If a woman walks the road like that now, the police will arrest her.
    Have you all forgotten that it is an offence to bare your body parts in public?

  22. Its like parking your car placing your laptop on the seat, and someone broke in stole it….is it right or wrong to place your laptop anywhere in your vehicle ????

  23. It is not your right to expose yourself on the road.
    If a woman walks the road like that now, the police will arrest her.
    Have you all forgotten that it is an offence to bare your body parts in public?

    • Nonsense. Much like the ability to jaywalk within city centers during carnival days, your point regarding costumes/ commercial apparel was legally rubbished years ago. Please read your national history before commenting further.

    • Yes, you are right that costumes were rubbished years ago.
      Look at this rubbish for example.

    • Melanie, I am not a major fan of ‘beads and bikini’ but I do know the costumes as intended are not illegal. For context, here I am looking quite ‘indecent’ and ‘arrestable’ by your standards on Jourvert morning . Should that be stopped too? Please respect the principle of civil freedoms. And besides, this is carnival! Self explanatory no?

    • I was speaking about nudity.
      It is an offence for a woman to bare her breasts and expose her butt in public.

    • Melina. That remains 1% of the total carnival playing population! If you have a problem with swimwear don’t just stop at carnival, let’s get to those beaches and stop the rot their as well! You have a problem with people’s behavior at carnival, I get that, but news flash: When was that ever NOT a problem at any carnival? Have the last word. That’s it for me for tonight. Just remember that your regular daily wear is presently considered indecent and offensive by a few faiths in our fun plural society. Think about that for a while.

    • Yup, this is winding down. My last word on this thing is, why does sexual assault and rape happen in countries where women are all covered up then? If your reasoning holds, women in Muslim countries should be the lowest victims of rape. Yet they have some of the highest numbers of rape (and that’s just those brave enough to report it, so it is probably much higher). This is despite having strict curfews, dress codes, no alcohol, no parties, no freedom to roam about as they please.

      Conversely, how come rapes are not sky high in the South of France on topless beaches? Women are walking around boobies bouncing free everywhere! G-string bikini bottoms. By goodness! The men should be sex-crazed, rape monsters just going WILD! I went to a topless beach in Brighton once. None of the men were harassing the women. How come?

      Clearly the common denominator is not the women or their dress. It’s the CALIBER OF MEN and the level of SAFETY and SOCIAL AWARENESS in the society as a whole. So why not tackle THAT as the issue? That seems to be the logical thing to do.

  24. WOMANTRA and these other feminist groups on real F*#*ery

  25. It is not your right to expose yourself on the road.
    If a woman walks the road like that now, the police will arrest her.
    Have you all forgotten that it is an offence to bare your body parts in public?

  26. Asami put up a fight according to the reports of her injuries. She is a human being, she has a will of her own, she has a consciousness, she can feel, she has emotions. No doubt she said no, she protested, she screamed.

    In order to assault and murder her, the perpetrator had to completely turn off EVERYTHING that was humane about them and COMPLETELY disregard her humanity and her autonomy as a person.

    It has NOTHING to do with her wearing a mas costume or whether she took a wine in the road or anything like that. It had to do with her having the unfortunate fate to run into a monster in a place where there was zero security where there should have been.

  27. You are being ridiculously childish.
    I never said that any woman looks to be raped!
    I am saying that we have a responsibility to protect ourselves from the multitude of thieves and rapists who are lurking out there.
    Would you walk through the savannah by yourself late at night?
    You must take personal responsibiluty for your own safety!

  28. Because I would hope you wouldn’t be victim Blaming if you were. Did you look for it?

  29. Women are not houses. They are human beings not inanimate objects. When another human chooses to HARM another human being, it is because they themselves are sub-human or so badly maladjusted they lack basic empathetic programming.

    You focus on THAT because THAT is what is wrong and maladjusted, not the victim.

  30. How do you know that I have never been a victim?

  31. Steups. Clearly you have been lucky to have never been a victim. I hope you never are.

  32. I advocate for victims too, it is my profession.

  33. And you give them more freedom to enter if you leave your door open.

  34. I am always advocating for victims. I help where and when I can.

  35. No no no Alana. You’re irresponsible for being a victim of a crime. What’s wrong with you people! !!!

  36. They will still enter. Open or not. I can say that because I have been the victim of multiple break-ins, stolen cars and other crimes. Locks and alarms did not deter them. Was I irresponsible? am I to blame? Was my lock responsible? Was the fact that I owned jewelry and electronics responsible? No. No. No. The perpetrators are responsible. They are the only ones responsible for committing the crime.

  37. It is your responsibility to lock your house if you don’t want thieves to enter!

  38. Where were you when that was happening?

  39. Where is Womantra when women are being brutalised by their husbands.
    One woman got kicked up in a video and not a peep out of them.
    They are hypocrites with an agenda to promote vulgarity in women!

  40. And they would be breaking the law if they did. Open door is not open invitation.

  41. No one is saying it is an excuse to rape but remember, if you leave your house open thieves will come in.

  42. Basically THIS is the stance that was taken.

  43. Sorry, I just need to correct two fallacious statements.

    “They are demostrating to allow women the right to be vulgar on the road for carnival.”

    Nope. They were demonstrating against blaming violence against female victims on how they are dressed or behave instead of focusing on the PERPETRATOR OF THE VIOLENCE.

    “They feel that it’s a woman’s right to walk the road like this.”

    Nope. Nip slip aside, it already IS your right to walk the street like that. What they believe is nobody has the right to RAPE or ASSAULT you because you do nor can it be used to justify or excuse the crime or blame the victim for it happening.

    C’mon. If we are using strawmen and false equivalencies to make a case, it shows how weak the stance is.

    • Why is your opposition so committed to willful ignorance? You keep making the point, and she keeps ignoring it. I am not sure how we advance if this particular vein of stubbornness continues within the society.

      “Ah eh go talk to allyuh because yuh see how de media does twist we words!”

  44. believe it or not … it is your right!

  45. They feel that it’s a woman’s right to walk the road like this.

  46. Where was Womantra when Dr. Rowley’s deceased mother and the mother of his son were publicly humiliated and brought into disrepute.
    Where were they when all rape victims were shamed by Toppin?
    They are demostrating to allow women the right to be vulgar on the road for carnival.
    That’s all they are concerned about.

  47. I was totally disgusted by the programme yesterday. Those men were biased, uninformed and as offensive as former
    Mayor Tim Kee. Shame on them!

  48. Darian is a PNM stooge in a PNM radio station and once you understand that you understand him and his myopic opinions

  49. I think that his comments were blown out of context, he was being interviewed for his general view of this year’s carnival, not on the murder. I should not resigned. The fact still remain women still needs to know how to dress and carry about themselves. And that was his point.

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