A statement by Prime Minister Allen Chastanet that many girls under 18 are having children, and with different men, following in the footsteps of their mothers and grandmothers, have not gone down well with a number of people on social media.
They have branded his statement as “racist”, “reckless”, and “disrespectful”.
Chastanet made the comments during Monday’s pre-Cabinet press briefing, where he reported on his recent attendance at the 19th Special Meeting of CARICOM Heads of government on security, held in Trinidad and Tobago.
The prime minister said the breakdown of values in the Saint Lucian society have contributed to crime and violence.
“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,” he said. “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.”
Those comments have been branded as a “racist stereotype of black women,” according to gender and human rights advocate, Felicia Browne.
She was one of a large number of persons who took issue with the prime minister’s statement, on social media.
“The racist stereotype of black women. SMH. In this day and age,” Browne wrote.
“They are going to tell us that we do not comprehend English and took it out of context. Translate it in creole — same intent. No PM has ever disrespected its women the way you did. Not one!” Browne added.
One person defended the prime minister.
“He didn’t lie,” Danelle M. Reneau wrote.
Browne responded: “Of course not. They did not lie Danelle M. Reneau. 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.”
Reneau responded: “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.”
She added: “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.”
Dolores Williams-Bart was not impressed with Reneau’s comment, calling it “an alarming statement”.
“It saddens me that another black woman would hold and voice such opinions. Is there any statistical data that you have to support your opinion? I mean I am lost for words. I do not know what else to say to you. Shocking!” Williams-Bart said.
Adding to the debate, Sharn Joseph said: “What a false reckless statement the majority of Black women are promiscuous… Promiscuity is NOT based on race… My gosh… Where is your statistics…. Married white women are promiscuous.. What are you talking about.
Others pointed out that married men and women of all races are promiscuous.
“If teenage pregnancy is the issue, what has this government done to reduce the issue of teenage pregnancy? What has this government done to aid poor single mothers?” asked Trevlyn Bonaparte.