This week I offer somewhat of a hodgepodge of thoughts. I want to reflect on the recent Cricket West Indies change in top leadership, the issue of women selling out rape cases for underage girls and then, more broadly, how we address rape in the system as a whole. I end with a few thoughts on the plastics ban debate currently occupying some attention.
I am elated at the change of the top leadership of West Indies Cricket. I truly hope that the mix of experience and youth, now at the helm of what is still the national game of the Commonwealth Caribbean, can look not to return it to any past state but to set it firmly on a new trajectory. One of the foundational principles of the new outlook has to be that the sport of cricket is now big business.
We should be at the forefront of that business given the place that we have come from in the 60s and 70s, but we have squandered some time. That said, many of our cricketing greats are still with us and much of the capital, such as the beautiful grounds around the Islands, is still there for us to make the most of. Additionally, cricket is holding its own in terms of interest by those who want to play the game and those who spectate. There should be enough to hope for with good management.
I thought the last presidency was not focused enough on the players and the business of cricket. That was solidified when, during the last campaign, the immediate outgoing president shifted the responsibility of restructuring the Cricket Board to the regional governments. The structure of the Board and how it operates is one of the major challenges that Cricket in the region has. The new president’s willingness to address the issues in the Guyana Board of Control is a step in the right direction.
Another issue that I hope the Board shortly pays attention to is the reconstitution of the High Performance Centre. It is nothing short of embarrassing that West Indies Cricket is the only side currently playing cricket on the world stage that does not have a viable and recognized training programme to deal with certification and training of players. We rectified the matter a few years ago only to have the work undone with the tenure of the former president. I watch and wait, hoping that West Indies cricket will be the real winner.
Recently in a local paper there was a cartoon in the commentary pages drawing attention to the habit of mothers of rape victims accepting cash settlements in lieu of carrying accused to trial. I have heard some attempts to intimate that this behaviour is new and being driven by the economic conditions. Let me categorically state that the habit of mothers accepting cash payments instead of court trials in cases of rape is historical.
The practice should be met with legal sanction to dissuade people from thinking it is a legitimate way to resolve rape charges. The trauma of a child reporting a rape to have her mother opt to offer the perpetrator an ‘ease’ through a cash payment is traumatic and as debilitating as the rape itself. In some of these cases, mothers even offer their daughters to men who are willing to continue to support them after the first cash settlement.
The way that mothers approach rape is a microcosm of a wider attitude and approach to rape in Barbados. Many rape cases, even when they go to trial, are either thrown out or discontinued due to myriad reasons including how evidence was taken or stored, critical missing pieces of evidence or victims opting to discontinue after years of trying to have the case disposed of.
This state of affairs leaves new victims of rape watching how former victims were treated and they opt also not to pursue a trial. The entire culture around rape and conviction for rape is problematic, and it is an issue that needs a national response.
I have not weighed in on the styrofoam ban. As has become all too usual in Barbados, we are far behind the curve with respect to taking action on the use of dangerous materials. While I support the ban in principle, I do have some questions and concerns about how we are approaching the matter.
Firstly, Barbadians have become quite heedless in their refuse disposal habits. Changing to more environmentally friendly containers will assist the waste in disintegrating faster but I suspect it will not stop said waste from ending up on the road side, in cane grounds and gullies across the island. This is not just about the plastics ban and the better containers policy. It has to be a wide spread and overarching discussion about how we honour the environment and keep our surroundings clean.
My next query was whether encouraging individuals to walk with their own dishes from home could be a solution to the container woes. I think that this is the ultimate solution to the single use of items. I would be open to hearing the health inspector’s take on this query.
My third concern is that we are abandoning single use shopping bags and replacing them with single use garbage bags. I feel like our national custom of using shopping bags to put garbage in was actually a very effective and laudable form of recycling. There is no sense in abandoning that to replace it with using a garbage bag for one single use.
On we go on a beautiful island called Barbados. There is much to be done and we all have a part in the collective doing.
(Marsha Hinds is public relations officer of the National Organization of Women. Email: [email protected])