Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 20th 2015 Contents Protesters against sexism out the Aria nightclub on Friday night. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt December 20, 2015
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A woman isn t just six-inch
heels and crotch-high dresses.
That was the message from pro-
testers who staged a placard
demonstration against sexism
and gender discrimination out-
side the popular Aria nightclub
in Port-of-Spain on Friday
A few dozen men and women
took part in the protest, holding
their placards aloft as patrons
walked into the club which was
hidden from view by red and
white fabric panels.
Police drove past occasionally,
and one officer hovered nearby
as members of the group passed
out pamphlets on the correct lan-
guage to be used when referring
The protest was prompted by
an incident a week earlier when
a young woman, Shannon
Gomes, was told by club employ-
ees she could not benefit from a
promotion because she was
"dressed like a man."
The issue was the focus of con-
siderable debate on social and
Stephanie Leitch and Khadija
Sinanan, co-directors of Wom-
antra, the organisation that
organised the protest, said the
group was not targeting any spe-
cific nightclub but was addressing
the much wider issue of a culture
in T&T "which is based on sexism
"We are here in response to
an incident that took place at this
particular establishment but it is
not unique to this establishment.
What took place here could have
taken place at any club along the
strip of Ariapita Avenue," Sinanan
"It is specifically about people s
right to express their gender how-
ever they feel and your right to
not be discriminated against on
the basis of gender non-confor-
mity which simply means if I am
female I do not have to dress in
whatever you believe female to
be or female clothing to be.
"They had a particular practice
and it was administered in a dis-
criminatory way and we are here
in response to that and in soli-
darity with Shannon."
The group numbered about
three dozen at one point and
dipped as low as 12 throughout
Asked if the level of support
was less than expected, Leitch
said since conversations about
the situation had become hostile
and inflammatory, she was happy
with the outcome.
"The mere fact that it captured
the public attention nationally
shows that it is a relevant issue,"
Culture Minister Dr Nyan Gadsby-
Dolly says it is time for Carnival Spe-
cial Interest Groups (SIGs)---Trinbago
Unified Calypsonians Organisation,
Pan Trinbago and the National Car-
nival Bands Association---to start
"That is one of the many things we
are looking for. We are looking forward
to the profitability, but that is some-
thing that is a future discussion.
"It is under discussion now, but it
is something that will take baby steps
and be incremental.
"But really and truly, we are looking
for a clean Carnival. We are looking
for an enjoyable Carnival and one that
people would look forward to as a
repeat experience," she told the Sunday
On Wednesday, the minister
announced that the Government had
cut the Carnival 2016 budget by $44
million to $270 million.
Gadsby-Dolly said the present eco-
nomic climate demanded that the State
adjust the budget downward by 14 per
cent. Commenting on the reduced car-
nival budget, National Carnival Com-
mission (NCC) chairman Kenny De
Silva said: "We have to cut back on a
number of things that will not in fact
impede the quality of what we put out.
We are hoping to get some corporate
sponsors on board to take up some of
the deficit, if there is any."
He said his team was working assid-
uously on pulling off a good Carnival
and so far all stakeholders were on
"We have not had any visible hic-
cups. The team is working well. We
have a good board and we have a very
young, vibrant minister who is very
understanding of all the needs that
Carnival will have to pull off the peo-
ple s festival," De Silva said.
He said because of the time of year
that the NCC board was installed, not
many changes intended to improve the
festival could be implemented.
"We will tweak a little bit and do as
we can with the possible time.
"Things are moving smoothly," De
The number drawn Friday, December 18,
2015, on CNC3 s Crime Watch for the Read
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drawn) and photo identification to claim your
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Read Watch Cash
Gender protest outside Aria
Minister wants to see Carnival profits
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