The Barbados capital throbbed with two significant marches in one day as thousands of Barbadians demonstrated their frustration at female harassment, and disgust with the island’s economic and political affairs.
Women and men, numbering close to 1,000, came together under the cover of the Caribbean-wide movement, ‘Life in Leggings’ to walk through the streets of the capital sending a message to males of Barbados and the region that catcalls and sexually-infused remarks on the roads about a woman’s body are not received as compliments but derogatory comments that produce mental injury to women.
Less than an hour later, an estimated 10,000 Barbadians assembled in response to a call by the Opposition Barbados Labour Party for a ‘March of Disgust’ and tramped through the city streets calling for political and economic change for a country stifling in prolonged recession, suffering frequent downgrades in international ratings to which the government of the day appears indifferent.
“I am not your sexy friend”; “I deserve respect”; “Don’t stop your daughters from dancing, teach your sons to behave”; and “Permission to look, no permission to touch” read some of the placards held by ‘Life In Leggings’ marchers as both men and women sought to indicate to the insensitive Caribbean man that what such males believe as acceptable amorous appeals to women in fact do more harm than good.
Assistant of the Barbados chapter of ‘Life in Leggings’, Luci Hammans, reportedly described the turnout for the march ass heartwarming.
“It wasn’t just women, it wasn’t just one type of woman,” she said about the placard-bearing marchers, adding, “it was all those different people who believe in this cause and believe in this purpose, and showed themselves”.
“One of my favorite moments was when … the women were chanting and saying something, and the men’s voices were boosting the message of the women.”
The movement in Barbados founder, Ronelle King, also reportedly explained what is absent in Caribbean society that the march was intended to highlight.
“We don’t look at the things like how we socialize men; how we socialize men to be aggressive, especially the Caribbean male.
“We have to, as a society, continue to educate our society members, to educate our children, our sons.”
The thousands at the BLP-led march amounted to a record number for any political rally in Barbados, and Opposition Leader, Mia Mottley, told the crowd of supporters, business people, and other Barbadians that she will take their massive turnout as an order to make demands of social partners comprising trade unions and business umbrella organizations in the quest to change the country’s political leadership before the constitutionally due elections, some 51 weeks away.
We have to, as a society, continue to educate our society members, to educate our children, our sons.
“Having taken instructions from you the people, we are now going back to talk with the other partners in this country [and tell them] that Barbadians cannot take 51 more weeks of this.
She told the crowd assembled in Jubilee Gardens after the march how they can push things through mass appeal.
“In the same ay all of us love our country let us go beyond the extra call of duty, put in that extra bit of work, talking. Talk to the people, and you get the message to us and we will go back to the social.
“I believe that if you stay true and do what we ask you to do that we will be able to get rid of this incompetent government before [the elections due date].”