The Walk Holy Band will be launching a major campaign against the sexual exploitation of children in the Crop Over Festival at the end of this month. Cultural entrepreneur Marcia Weekes, one of the movers and shakers behind the initiative, told High Note the campaign would take the form of a petition, which is also aimed at preserving the authenticity of Crop Over as a positive cultural expression that does not promote lewdness.
Weekes, a founder-partner of Praise Academy Of Dance and Step By Step Films, said the number of signatures being targeted was still to be determined, but the aim was to present the final document to Government for the enactment of legislative change. She noted that legislation was necessary to help protect our children who were now being encouraged or used by adults to take part in simulations of sexual acts during Crop Over time.
“Year after year we see individuals in Crop-Over-related events and other events in Barbados display behaviour which has caused many observers to conclude they seem to be performing simulations of sexual acts on the streets of Barbados,” stated Weekes.
She added: “What we have also observed, however, is that these same adults have now included underage children in their displays of pornographic activity. In 2011, there was much public outcry after one of our leading newspapers published a photo of an adult female, with very little clothing on, with her legs open on a truck and a male child between her legs apparently simulating an act of oral sex.”
The cultural entrepreneur also recalled that in 2013, a local newspaper published another photo of an adult female bending over and “touching de ground” and an underage boy gyrating on her.
“Again, the public of Barbados made a huge outcry appealing for decency, especially as Barbados is well known as a tourist destination. Many fear this representation of Barbados could negatively impact our tourism product.
“In 2012, a YouTube video of children wukking up and adults watching and applauding went viral, much to the displeasure of many Barbadians. Then in 2015, at the Christ Church Carnival, the print media again carried a picture of two adult females touching the ground and two underage boys gyrating on their privates,” lamented the Walk Holy Band official.
Weekes believes this is nothing less than child pornography, and is appealing to the law courts to protect the children. Weekes noted that when children were engaged in this type of activity, it begged for the system to place some form of protection for the innocent.
“We are therefore appealing to the legal system in Barbados to make it a criminal offence for an adult to engage in this type of sexually provocative behaviour involving children. We would like a fine of $500 to be levied on any adult who involves any child in any sexually provocative behaviour during the Crop-Over Festival and other entertainment productions in Barbados.
“We are also seeking a fine of $1,000 to be levied on producers/promoters of events where adults engage in any type of sexually provocative behaviour involving children,” Weekes stated.
She stressed there was a need for the law courts to protect our children –– both boys and girls –– from paedophiles whether in private or in public spaces.
In other news, 26 awards, including the coveted Claytons Kola Tonic Artiste Of The Year, are up for grabs when the Flame Awards extravaganza comes off tomorrow at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre, beginning at 7 p.m.
At least four artistes who are nominated in the 2016 Barbados Gospel Music Awards stand a chance in winning the Claytons Kola Tonic Flame Award trophy for 2016.
These are Gozzy, Neesha Woodz, John Yarde and Promise. These names, more than any others, have been the ones consistently carrying the gospel music flag for the past three years.
In 2014, Gozzy produced his CD Redemption Music and has been performing at several events in both secular and gospel settings. His song Officer has been played on “non-Christian” radio stations and has been well received by mainly the young. Nominated in seven categories, Arnal Gozzy Goslin has also been touring since the release of the CD.
Neesha Woodz is another artiste who has raced on to the gospel scene. She is probably the most aggressive in terms of stage performance and marketing of her product, utilizing the social media Facebook to deliver her message regularly. Her CD has produced at least five hit songs so far since its release in October, with the theme song Fyah Fyah being the biggest hit of all.
The former St Michael School student has travelled up and down the Caribbean, and has also had a few gigs in the United States. Nominated in eight categories, she is one of a few full-time artistes who have decided to dedicate their lives to full-time ministry, and will be performing at the Flame Awards show as well.
Promise are now enjoying a rebirth. For the past two years they have consistently rocked their audiences at Gospelfest at Farley Hill, and at several other local events. As a backing band they have provided accompaniment for all singers at the Flow (Lime) Gospel Challenge for the past three years.
Recently they have produced a few singles which, unlike their former work, were mostly “covers”. The lone original Unconditional has been a bomb when played in Christian circles. These songs have catapulted them back into the limelight in a big way with both senior and young people enjoying their vibes.
Pastor John Yarde, who is referred to as the John Legend of gospel music, has been rocking the scene ever since his return from Bible college in Trinidad. While there, he was able to develop a reputation for being a good writer, singer and performer. His last two releases, especially Echo, which he co-wrote with Reeco Butcher, has received tremendous acclamation from “both sides of the fence”.
It is a classy sound that speaks to commitment of his faith, a topic not usually associated with young people. However, Yarde has produced several music videos during this time, one of which has earned him a nomination in the 2016 Flame Awards.
Guests artistes performing include Neesha, Gozzy, Promise, United Holy Church Of America District Choir, Keann Walters, Vessels Of Honour Dance Group, Hallal Dancers and Mission Prayz. Coming in from Trinidad and Tobago to do a special performance is Jaron Caribbean Christian Nurse.
That’s it for now. Blessings!