A group of demonstrators converged outside the Glass House in George Town on Friday to protest about violence against women.
The protest was organised in the aftermath of allegations that Speaker of the House McKeeva Bush was involved in an assault on the female manager of the Coral Beach bar on Seven Mile Beach on 21 Feb.
Several of the approximately 100 protesters held up ‘She is Supported’ signs – a slogan and hashtag that has emerged on social media over the past week to show solidarity with the assault victim. Others held signs saying ‘No excuse for abuse’ and ‘You will never have the comfort of our silence again’.
Organiser Angela Pretorius said at the protest on Friday, “We need to stand in unity against that kind of behaviour. That behaviour is not acceptable and we’ll definitely not be accepting that behaviour from the leadership of our country.”
In a statement released on Monday, 24 Feb., Bush said he was told he fell, and reacted badly to those who assisted him. In that statement, he also spoke about his need to seek professional help to deal with the death of his daughter, who died in 2011, and address his relationship with alcohol. Bush announced later in the week that he was taking a leave of absence from his role as Speaker.
Bernie Bush, who resigned as Deputy Speaker on Friday, was at Friday’s protest, where he said more education is needed on gender-based violence, and that Caymanians need to speak out about it.
“I think, as a society, we should always hope to be better people, and gender-based violence is something that’s gone on and been covered up for too long,” he said. “There’s always some straw that breaks the camel’s back and maybe God in his wisdom saw fit that this was the thing that finally brought it up front.”
Deputy Leader of the Opposition Alva Suckoo also attended the protest and said he came out to listen to the community.
“This issue has caused a lot of concern in the community and … for us, the elected representatives, as well, and we want to resolve it peacefully,” Suckoo said.
Demonstrator Stacy Foster said she hoped Friday’s protest would lead to a resolution.
“Violence of any kind is just uncalled for. Not only is it against the law, it’s against human spirit, and any time something like that happens, it breaks the human spirit, and we can’t stand for that,” Foster said.
Another protester, Miriam Foster, said it was extremely important that the community shows that it has zero tolerance for violence against women, and she called for better government policies against this type of behaviour.
“The first thing I did when I heard about the incident was look up the code of conduct and it was really sad to see that there is nothing. So that’s the first thing we need to address, is a code of conduct, because it’s not just violence against women, it’s violence against anyone,” she said.