Demming: Gov’t must act on sexual harrassment and gender-based violence

EPL Infrafred Sauna

Womantra and 2Cents movement have both survived firestorms of social media criticism that they allegedly mishandled accusations of either sexual harassment, gender-based violence or sexual grooming perpetrated by persons in positions of leadership.

Ironically, both organisations are engaged in much-needed work that can fundamentally change our cultural landscape, but they risk being perceived as part of our systems of oppression.

Photo: Stephanie Leitch, Womantra founder (via

In both instances, they have responded by setting up unique processes to deal with complaints. While this might seem like a bureaucratic response, the problem-solving process often begins with data collection. At the end of the process, it is anticipated that all concerned will have had the opportunity to reflect on their actions and begin the healing process, which should ignite a behaviour change.

Even if the process is successful within these two organisations, nothing significantly positive will happen without major changes in our operating context and ‘therein lies the rub’. The firestorms at these two organisations merely reflect our wider society and again flag the need to approach sexual harassment and gender-based violence in a structured, systematic manner.

News headlines are replete with examples of persons being abused and or violated because of their gender. How long will we hide behind the lethargy of parliament to pass legislation and implement policy?

In January 2019, The Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Human Rights, Equality and Diversity discussed sexual harassment, and among their several recommendations was that the Ministry of Labour and Small Enterprise Development (MLSED) incorporate in ‘the sexual harassment policy a procedural mechanism for anonymous reports to protect the identity of persons who have reported cases of sexual harassment

If this were our reality, the victims in these organisations would have had a voice and a mechanism to tell their stories and move towards resolution.

Photo by Byron Sullivan from Pexels

Another very forward-leaning recommendation in the report is that the definition of ‘worker’ should be widened to capture volunteer workers who provide a service without hire or reward.

The policy and recommendations of the JSC are wide-ranging, well researched and inclusive, but the whole issue is being stymied by our national implementation deficit. Even when policies are established, they are often not implemented quickly, or even at all.

The time is running out on us hiding behind the notion that ‘things take long in this country’.  They take long because of the absence of leadership committed to making a difference. Removing bottlenecks is a normal and expected part of leading any organisation or country.

Governments are elected to solve problems, and this problem has been plaguing us for too long. While companies and organisations must do their part to enhance their operating environments, a legislative framework is determined, and can only be structured, by governments.

Trinidad and Tobago is at a stage where our thorny problems are beginning to ‘jook hard’ from every direction. We must find the courage to tackle each problem while bringing along our citizens on the journey towards becoming the most efficient little island in the universe.

More from Wired868
Dear Editor: Miracle Ex-Minister beats background check to land Trade job

Dear Former Minister Darryl Smith, Congratulations on your recent appointment as a commercial officer for the Ministry of Trade. Your appointment Read more

Demming: Commendable that Gov’t proclaimed Procurement Legislation; but keep Lalchan!

“[…] The theft of billions of dollars could have been prevented if we had a fully functional [Office of Procurement Legislation] according Read more

Demming: Despers’ hard gift—how will they fund operating and maintenance costs?

Congratulations to Despers on receiving their second multimillion-dollar gift from the people of Trinidad and Tobago. Their first theatre gift Read more

Demming: Pan should be part of education curriculum, to maximise its value

“Pan is in good hands,” they said—after experiencing the energy and exuberance of the Junior Panorama finals at the Queen’s Read more

PNM NWL: UNC’s attack on PM’s wife is repugnant, reprehensible and a new low

“[…] Having failed on more than one occasion to besmirch the good name of the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader Kamla Read more

Dear Editor: Why is the media glossing over Watson Duke’s sexual assault charges?

“[…] What is most worrisome is the media’s purposeful glossing over of Watson Duke’s history. I cannot be the only Read more

About Dennise Demming

Dennise Demming
Dennise Demming grew up in East Dry River, Port of Spain and has more than 30 years experience as a communication strategist, political commentator and event planner. She has 15 years experience lecturing business communications at UWI and is the co-licensee for TEDxPortofSpain. Dennise is a member of the HOPE political party.

Check Also

Dear Editor: Miracle Ex-Minister beats background check to land Trade job

Dear Former Minister Darryl Smith, Congratulations on your recent appointment as a commercial officer for …

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.