THERE was no sympathy from the women on the Sangre Grande platform of the United National Congress (UNC) for President Christine Kangaloo’s comments on vile and offensive gender-based social-media attacks on herself and Speaker Brigid Annisette-George.
Instead, UNC deputy political leader Jearlean John told the newly installed President at the party’s Monday night meeting, “Welcome to Kamla’s (Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar's) world.”
John reflected on the President's comments at the launch of a parliamentary group for women legislators on March 23. Kangaloo had said although women parliamentarians had cemented themselves as a permanent part of the legislative landscape, they continued to be objectified and demeaned on the basis of their sex.
Pointing to Kangaloo’s shock at the silence from civil society and women’s groups on the attacks on her and Annisette-George, John said Kangaloo had not referred to what she described as relentless abuse of Persad-Bissessar, led by none other than Kangaloo’s former political leader, the Prime Minister.
“Tonight, I respectfully tell Her Excellency, 'Welcome to Kamla’s world.'
“Did anyone speak up for the first female leader of a major political party in this country?” she asked the audience, getting a resounding no to this and similar questions.
“Did anyone speak up for the first female Attorney General? Did they speak for the first female prime minister (and) leader of the opposition?
“Only the UNC spoke up for her when they were dragging a vulgar effigy of her through the streets.”
There was "not a peep," she said, from the Prime Minister, who she claimed led the charge, “disrespecting and hurling insults,” and setting an example for the rest of his Cabinet to follow.
“(For) eight years he has done nothing to improve the lives of women. So, your Excellency, if you are using that platform to shine a light on what you describe as vile and gender-based attacks on behalf of yourself and the Speaker, extend the same courtesy and shine your little light in the direction of Kamla Persad-Bissessar.”
Continuing the narrative, Persad-Bissessar, who followed John to wind up the meeting, said she was not afraid of those who attacked her, and would continue to fight.
Calling Kangaloo a “puppet president” and the women’s group “a sham,” she asked, “How many times did they denigrate me and viciously, viciously attack me?”
Several videos of Rowley’s verbal criticisms of her, in one of which he told her to “go drink your rum and get out of my face,” were played as a reminder.
“I did not go on a platform and cry. Imagine, that puppet president says to put aside past spite and grudges in her first speech.
“In her second speech, at her contrived women’s caucus, she complains about past spite and grudges."
Lashing out at the exclusion of women from the Opposition from that women’s legislature grouping, Persad-Bissessar was suspicious this was designed to defend the PNM and not the rights of women.
“From the statements made, it is a sham women’s group. It is another arm of the PNM propaganda.”
She also had some scathing remarks for those who dubbed the Opposition unpatriotic.
“I see a new narrative being created: when the UNC does not attend something they are having, they say we are unpatriotic." No opposition MPs went to Kangaloo's inauguration on March 20. Kangaloo is a past PNM Mp and president of the Senate.
Persad-Bissessar charged: "'Patriotic' to them means attending the function and grin and clap. That is hypocrisy of the highest order.”
She said she was a proud UNC patriot.