Home / View Point / Letters to the Editor / ‘Shameful, reprehensible, misogynistic, attack on women!’ Smith investigator slams Rowley and Faris

‘Shameful, reprehensible, misogynistic, attack on women!’ Smith investigator slams Rowley and Faris

“The very public and pejorative characterisation of the report as ‘unusable’, and words to the effect that the methodology used by the Committee resulted in the denial of natural justice, callously sacrificed the professional credibility, competence, and reputation of anyone who served on the Committee, including myself.

With every public utterance, the Hon Prime Minister and the Hon Attorney General, intentionally or unintentionally, diminished the professional conduct of women who served, without any payment, in the interest of national service and violated the rights of women to serve in public office with the expectation of fair and just treatment. Such injustice runs counter to the pursuit of achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which Trinidad and Tobago is committed to.”

The following Letter to the Editor criticising Prime Minister Keith Rowley and Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi’s handling of the investigation into sexual harassment allegations against former Minister of Sport Darryl Smith was submitted to Wired868 by Folade Mutota, a member of the committee that conducted the inquiry:

Photo: Former Minister of Sport Darryl Smith and PM Dr Keith Rowley at Brian Lara Stadium opening in 2017.
(via trinidadexpress.com)

November 25th to December 10th marks 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence. Violence against women (VAW) is just one form of gender-based violence, according to the United Nations. It is in the midst of this year’s commemoration of the 16 Days that I choose to speak out on a very public perpetration of violence against women.

Ultimately, because misogyny finds subtle ways of hiding and repackaging itself in multiple forms, I choose to analyse the public actions and utterances of the Hon Prime Minister and the Hon Attorney General of Trinidad and Tobago along with the maelstrom of comments and commentaries by their declared and undeclared spokespersons in the context of violence against women.

It is violence against women as the actions of two men entrusted with the responsibility of public office, actively engage in the silencing and public disregard of the work of women, as it relates to the Daryl Smith inquiry, which was mandated by the Hon Prime Minister.

What the Hon Prime Minister and Hon Attorney General sought to do was silence women’s voices in their attempts to wash their hands of any responsibility for transparency and accountability to the public, knowing full well that the terms of reference (ToR) of the Committee to act as a fact-finding inquiry on behalf of the Hon prime minister and to submit a report to him and only him, could create some level of hesitance by Committee members to respond publicly to the statements of the Hon Prime Minister and the Hon Attorney General.

The Committee was appointed to review the circumstances surrounding the dismissal and payment of compensation to Ms Carrie-Ann Moreau and the allegations of alleged sexual harassment made against Mr Darryl Smith, former Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs, by Ms Carrie-Ann Moreau.

The very public and pejorative characterisation of the report as ‘unusable’, and words to the effect that the methodology used by the Committee resulted in the denial of natural justice, callously sacrificed the professional credibility, competence, and reputation of anyone who served on the Committee, including myself.

With every public utterance, the Hon Prime Minister and the Hon Attorney General, intentionally or unintentionally, diminished the professional conduct of women who served, without any payment, in the interest of national service and violated the rights of women to serve in public office with the expectation of fair and just treatment. Such injustice runs counter to the pursuit of achieving gender equality and women’s empowerment in line with the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which Trinidad and Tobago is committed to.

The conduct of the Hon Prime Minister and Hon Attorney General has been shameful, reprehensible, misogynistic and an attack on women’s agency, women’s right to challenge injustice and to be heard. A declaration about the number of women in high office in Trinidad and Tobago is insufficient to remove this shame. It is on the public record. It is a stain that both men must endure. I hope that any sincere attempt at contrition will significantly benefit women and deliver strong action against sexual harassment.

But this matter is not a mere news cycle story. It is the lived reality of women who challenge injustice, whether as alleged victim or women in leadership. It is an example of the ease with which public service, with hasty utterances by men in positions of power and decision making, can be converted into public shaming of women. It is the story of how misogyny actively seeks to make women invisible, without value and attempts to impose victimhood on women regardless of our many accomplishments.

This behaviour is another story of how women’s work and agency can be sacrificed at the altar of ‘the boys club’ and political expediency. I urge women to continue to come forward to serve in public office notwithstanding such barriers.

Photo: #metoo hastag used to represent movement against sexual harassment and assault.

In my over forty years of public service, I have toiled for the development of women and girls and I understand the gravity of sexual harassment. My efforts have transcended the boundaries of Trinidad and Tobago and contributed to advancing women’s rights in international law. I have never allowed any government to silence me and there is no reason for me to allow this administration to do so. As these 16 Days come to an end with Human Rights Day on December 10, I choose to exercise my right not to be silenced.

About Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor
Want to share your thoughts with Wired868? Email us at editor@wired868.com. Please keep your blog between 300 to 800 words and be sure to read it over first for typos and punctuation.

Check Also

Hilarant! Haiti is sorry for T&T as local crime mess creates Caribbean tragicomedy

Full circle. Just about 30 years ago, David Rudder was singing “Haiti, I’m sorry.” Nowadays, …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

One comment

  1. Earl Best

    “I choose to exercise my right not to be silenced.”

    The case may well be made that you have chosen to say more than you needed to say but you have in my view certainly said all that you needed to say. Discerning people will fill with all that you left unsaid all the important gaps that you deliberately and judiciously left.