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Senior Communications Officer Nicole McDonald has said a statement made by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet at Monday’s pre-Cabinet press briefing have been deliberately twisted by some persons.
Chastanet had said many girls under 18 are having children, and with different men, following in the footsteps of their mothers and grandmothers — a statement that drew a lot of criticisms on social media.
“We have young girls who are having children under the age of 18, and having children with different men, and that they are following the pattern of their mother and they are following the pattern of their grandmother,” Chastanet told media operatives on Monday as he reported on his attendance at a CARICOM meeting on security in Trinidad and Tobago, recently.
He added: “And so the question is what we as citizens of this country are prepared to do in order to be able to stop that from happening. The next one is, is that young kids are not being occupied. And the fact is that values that were normal in this country have diminished significantly.”
Persons have branded his statement as “racist”, “reckless”, and “disrespectful”, however McDonald, told DBS, that the prime minister’s statement was taken out of context.
“There have been some persons who have obviously tried to misconstrue or twist the prime minister’s words to make it seem as if the prime minister was referring to all single mothers in Saint Lucia. That is obviously not true,” she said.
She continued: “This is a very sensitive matter. And obviously we have a lot of hardworking single mothers who are trying to put their kids through school, make a living, contribute to the society, and are trying very much to raise good, responsible citizens of Saint Lucia.
McDonald said the prime minister was just making people aware that this major problem — which feeds crime — exists, and something must be done about it by not just government, but everyone.
“You have a situation where you have people, you know, making deals… You have a situation where a lot of these girls don’t go back to school…. The government also has a responsibility to protect those young mothers. The government has a responsibility to protect the children that are coming up, but first we have to face the problem and that is what the prime minister said, that… as a government we have to deal with these problems, we have to stop this from happening, and we have to take responsibility as a society. It has to be all of us,” she said.
One of the critics is gender and human rights advocate, Felicia Browne, who, on Facebook, described the prime minister’s statement as a “racist stereotype of black women”.
Browne said: ‘They just continue to perpetuate the racist stereotype of black women as loose and promiscuous: while creating criminals in the process. Of course not, they did not remove the socio-economic barriers that have continued to plague our very society while only a small minority gains from their labor. Or the recent report of the impact of political corruption on the well being of any developing nation. Of course not, they did not include that many of these same young black women like yourself are being denied access to tertiary education while his family benefits from the cheap labor. Of course not, they will not include their white collar crimes which are rampant but they will not blame their mothers and foremothers for creating unethical individuals. But allow them to continue to humiliate our women and their foremothers who work very hard to contribute to our society.”
Responding to Browne’s post, a Danelle M. Reneau, defended the prime minister, saying: “The average black woman is promiscuous and I think to act like that’s not true is intentionally dishonest. Majority of these criminals do come from single mother households. Single motherhood shouldn’t be praised. Children need both their parents. Fathers are just as important as mothers. Children who grow up without a father are 5 times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime; 9 times more likely to drop out of schools and 20 times more likely to end up in prison. If you can’t accept the facts, then that’s your personal problem.”