Thursday, October 13, 2016


by Karen 

Like many persons out in the world, I have been paying particular attention to the Presidential campaign currently taking place in the United States of America.  Every 4 years I do so.  I do it not because I have a vote or because I am fond of the policies of either candidate but I have always thought it is a good idea to at least be aware of current events all over the world as they happen. 

Frankly, the way the US conducts its business should be of interest to people all over the world.  The President of the US is usually the person who mandates trade negotiations which impact people like me from the Caribbean who has seen their manufacturing and agricultural sectors die as a result of laws that have been passed by the US Congress protecting American industries from imports.   On a much more serious note, we see guns and ammunition arriving in the Islands of the Caribbean from the US and these guns have contributed significantly to violent crime. 

I currently live and work in the Cayman Islands and the clamp down on offshore jurisdictions has meant the loss of jobs and the moving of companies to other jurisdictions where they are not as frightened of the might of the US Government as we here in the Caribbean seem to be.  

When I started this blog in 2009 it was mostly to talk about women's tennis, and to open up a serious discussion on the way how the women's game was being treated by broadcasters.  Fast forward 7 years later and I would say that things have improved substantially since I first started writing about the women's game.  There is still a lot of work to be done but I suspect that as the women have become more outspoken in press conferences my work in highlighting the sexism that has permeated the sport, my role with my little blog has served its purpose. 

I started this post by talking about the current US Presidential election.  I have just finished watching Michelle Obama's speech where she is campaigning for Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.  Mrs. Obama opined that the words that she heard from Donald Trump shook her to her core. I don't believe that Mrs. Obama was making that up. Her voice shook and she had the audience spell bound in her sincerity.  I can tell you that this woman from all the way in the Cayman Islands broke down in tears. 

The news media have called into question the tales of the women who have come forward accusing both Bill Clinton (Hillary Clinton's husband) and Donald Trump (the Republican Nominee) of sexual assault.  The question that is being asked by the media is why are these women just now coming forward. Let me stop right here and say this.  If they had come forward 10 years earlier or when it happened, would we not have heard the same questions being asked?  

As someone who has worked with women who have been sexually assaulted, or for that matter raped and degraded, it takes a lot for a woman to come out and say that this happened to me.  As a survivor myself, I can tell you that it is not the easiest thing in the world to do.  You are ashamed.  You feel as if it is your fault.  You blame yourself and frankly, if you grew up in the Caribbean, you get blamed for allowing this to happen to you. 

I have had family members who have been molested.  I have seen young boys and girls who have been molested. I have seen grown women who are married and whose husbands have raped them and beaten them to within an inch of their lives, you put them in shelters and when the time comes to prosecute these men, the wives and girlfriends recant.  

As a survivor who has been down that road, you don't condemn these women for recanting.  You don't condemn them for wasting the Court's time and you certainly don't condemn them because they waited too damned long to talk about it.  

Sexual assault is an intrusion into a woman's private space.  I have seen marriages and relationships end because the woman's partners were unable to deal with their partners being abused.  It is a double blow for the woman as not only has she been violated, but the person who should be standing with her through this crisis is too weak to do so.  For these women who have come out and spoken against both Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, it took a lot of courage.  It meant reliving their worst nightmare.  It meant opening up themselves to new lines of attack against their character. 

I wish that this had not become an issue.  If it is that politicians wished to speak about sexual assault, they should really be speaking about it in terms of protecting women with proper legislation.  They should be talking about creating shelters for these women and crisis centers where the women and their children could be safeguarded.  In the same way that politicians in the US speak about fighting terrorists, they should be talking about protecting the most vulnerable in society with the same amount of zeal and effort. 

I don't live in the US but I can't imagine that well thinking people are happy about the way in which this supposedly greatest democracy on earth is conducting itself for the world to see.  It is incredibly disappointing.  

No comments: