Published On: Fri, Oct 14th, 2016

Stand up for your rights

Two cases stand out in today’s newspaper: the employee that got fired by a supermarket and a girl who got a beating from her stepfather. What do a 37-year-old supermarket worker and a 12-year old kid have in common? Well, for one, they are of course both of the female gender and two, they were both at the receiving end of some sort of violence.

This may be a men’s world, as the song says, but sexual intimidation of employees and beating up a girl because she is sucking her teeth at the request to do the washing up are both big no-nos.

Add to these two stories the one of the man who was in court on Wednesday accused of raping a 62-year-old newspaper vendor and a 19-year-old girl and the picture that emerges is not a pretty one. Girls and women are not as safe as they ought to be in our community.

Oh, we can hear the Trump-style locker room stories about women and the stories of all those people who grew up at the hands of their belting parents, but those experiences do not make what is happening today okay. On the contrary, St. Maarten has to come out of the dark ages and the men who think they can do whatever they like to women and girls who do not do their bidding have to be exposed.

As we can see with the stepfather who beat up his stepdaughter, these acts of violence take sometimes place in the privacy of somebody’s home. Good for the girl who had the courage to stand up and take her case to the authorities. How many like here are out there who would never dare doing something like that?

To those girls our message is: do not be afraid. Get up stand up, stand up for your rights. You have the right to be protected, the right to be safe in your own home and in the company of your parents or guardians.

Taking our story to the private sector, we see that not all is peachy there either. How is it possible that a supervisor in a supermarket can harass and sexually intimidate his employees and nobody ever does anything about it? In the story we publish today, it seems that the harassed employee complained to the manager of her supervisor and to higher management, all to no avail.

It is an embarrassment to companies that get this kind of publicity – but that is something they deserve for their attitude.

Let’s not even start about the man accused of raping two women. Nuff said.

The stepfather who beat his stepdaughter wanted respect and because he felt that the girl disrespected him, he applied violence.

The judge correctly pointed out that you have to earn respect – it is not given to you. People who abuse women one way or the other do not deserve our respect. People who ignore complaints from women who fall victim to these practices do not deserve it either.

But from all bad things something good could emerge. First of all: the girl that stepped forward, the woman who stood up to her supervisor, the women who were courageous enough to report rape, they should be an example to all other women in our community. You don’t have to take this.

These stories should also function as a wakeup call to the abusers who flaunt their perceived male superiority.

Bob Dylan, recipient of the Nobel prize for literature, put it decades ago in a song – the times they are changing. Today, times have changed, we do live in an era where all citizens – male and female, straight and gay, black, yellow, white and purple – have equal rights and the power to exercise those rights.

Nobody has the right to abuse others. Those who do will sooner or later pay the price – and rightly so.