Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley offered advice that he would have given to his own daughters, says the People's National Movement (PNM) Women's League.
In defence of their political leader, the PNM Women's League, which is chaired by Government Minister Camille Robinson-Regis, issued a release yesterday, stating the Prime Minister's “30-second sound bite” does not warrant an apology.
And while the PNM Women's League defended and supported its leader, the Opposition's United National Congress (UNC) Women's Arm insisted Rowley must apologise.
“The Prime Minister and Attorney General, as elected representatives, are responsible for public safety. Domestic violence is a crime, a public matter, a social problem. The State's primary responsibility is to protect all citizens, not pick and choose, not profit from crime. UNC Women's Arm supports the call for a retraction of the statement and an apology from the Prime Minister,” stated the UNC Women's Arm in a release.
Rowley's controversial statements were made on Monday at the first instalment of “Conversations with the Prime Minister”, held in Maloney.
“You call on the Prime Minister to do something about crime, I'm not in your bedroom, I'm not in your choice of men. You have a responsibility to determine who you associate with and know when to get out and the State will try to help.
“But then when the tragedy occurs and it becomes known to the police, the police must now go the extra mile to ensure that there is detection,” he said, adding one third of the murders in the past month were related to domestic situations.
“The Prime Minister's advice to women to exercise greater prudence in choosing their partners is advice that all parents have given in the past and should be giving now to their daughters. Indeed this advice should be heeded by both men and women, as they share an equal responsibility in this regard. We are certain that as a father, he too would have offered the same advice to his daughters,” stated the release.
The league stated it is unfortunate when the disagreement is based on a single 30-second sound bite out of a conversation that lasted for more than two hours.
“For those who were fortunate enough to listen to the part of the conversation which treated with the response of the Police Service to crime in general, and domestic violence in particular, the Prime Minister delineated the roles to be played by everyone, and the shared responsibility of all citizens, including women, to address what is clearly an unacceptable situation.
“On no occasion did the Honourable Prime Minister attempt to cast blame upon or shame women who have been victims of domestic violence. Instead he asked women to use the resources available to them, one of which was their ability to choose their partners wisely,” The PNM Women's League stated.
Don't derail other issues
It stated further the “chorus of criticism” that has erupted, and which threatens to derail the other important issues discussed on that night, has been deafeningly silent as “murder after murder” has taken place.
“The calls for an apology are disingenuous at best, as they fail to distinguish between the content and the delivery of Prime Minister's comments, as other, more discerning commentators have done,” stated the release.
The Women's League also extended an invitation to all the women's groups and other critics to come out and attend the “Conversations” as other ordinary people who feel sufficiently concerned about their communities do.
“That way you will hear first-hand, the pain felt by those who live in these situations, and you too will be able to add to the discussion as we seek implementable solutions.
“The national discussion and dialogue ought not to be derailed by those who criticise from the comfort of their couches, having listened to a 30-second sound bite,” the release stated.