Protesters are set to hold a demonstration outside the Government Administration Building on Friday, 28 Feb., to show their support for the woman assaulted in an incident allegedly involving Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush last weekend.
The Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has approved the protest, but as of press time organisers were still awaiting approval from government to use the steps outside of its building. The demonstration is set to run from 7:30am to 9:30am.
Amid the outcry over the alleged assault, a social media movement with the hashtag #sheissupported has been launched.
Angela Pretorius, the organiser of Friday’s protest, said she hopes the demonstration will highlight violence against women.
“At first, I was very hesitant and scared to post the idea of a protest regarding the issue. I wrote out my post on Facebook on Monday, cut it and saved it to a Word document, and slept on it,” she said. “Then, on Tuesday morning, I decided it was too important to not post, so I then posted it on a local Facebook group and got tremendous support for the idea.”
After news of the alleged assault at the Coral Beach bar on Seven Mile Beach emerged, Bush released a statement saying that he had passed out and fallen down at the bar on Friday night, 21 Feb., and was told that he “reacted badly” to people who tried to help him.
He said he did not remember falling down, but apologised in his statement to the female manager, and other staff. He subsequently announced that he would take a leave of absence as Speaker of the House, but would remain as an MLA.
The RCIPS, which has not named Bush in the incident, said in a statement that a female had been assaulted at the bar and had received minor injuries.
Pretorius said she wants to demonstrate the Cayman community’s unity against violence to women.
She said she believes that government needs to see how passionate the community is on this issue and, while she understands that police are still investigating the incident, the people’s voices needed to be heard.
“We want the government, as well as the community of Cayman, to see that this type of behaviour is not acceptable, and we will not stand by while it occurs,” Pretorius said. “We are happy to see that yesterday the politician announced that he will be taking a leave of absence. We hope that this is a permanent leave…”
According to Pretorius, violence against women is a subject that is swept under the rug, not only in Cayman, but also globally. She said that often women are afraid to speak out.
“By uniting together in peaceful protest, we hope to demonstrate that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable and women who are subjected to violence are supported and can speak out,” Pretorius said.
The Cayman Islands Crisis Centre’s board of directors on Thursday issued a press release about the Coral Beach incident, stating that the organisation shares concerns expressed by the community and welcomes open dialogue on the matter of violent acts against women.
“When a situation like this happens, involving a public figure in a public place, the violence issue, way too long on the back burner, is brought into a sharp relief,” the Crisis Centre said. “The Centre also encouraged the survivor of last weekend’s attack to call the Crisis Centre if she needs anything at all, someone to talk to, or to just sit with people who have been in a similar situation and understand.”
The Crisis Centre ended its release with the hashtag #sheissupported.