Soca artistes, from left, Nessa Preppy, Ricardo Drew, Patrice Roberts and Preedy, with Fashion designer Anya Ayoung-Chee, at right, during the Carnival stakeholders, march against gender-based violence, Queen’s Park Savannah, Port-of-Spain.

Carisa Lee

Even with no Carnival this year, dozens of people still flocked to the Queen’s Park Savannah yesterday. But their gathering was not in celebration of anything but actually for the opposite, as they mourned the loss of the several women who died due to violence in this country.

“What we love about Carnival is the freedom. That is the string of our Carnival celebrations. However, there is no freedom if we live in a country we as women our sisters, our daughters, our mothers, our friends in constant fear of violence against us,” Keisha Als of Women in Carnival said.

Equipped with signs that read, “enough is enough” and “women give life, don’t take ours”, the group walked to the Office of the Prime Minister where, from opposite the building, they called for justice for those who passed on and protection for the women who are still here.

“Reform the system”, “Catcalling is violence”, “Men stand up”, “Police protect us”, “Prime Minister protect us”, “Leave me alone” were some of the phrases the women shouted outside Whitehall.

But in true Trini spirit, some portrayed their activism in the costumes of traditional Carnival characters. One Midnight Robber’s sign read, “I am madam midnight robber here to take back all you have plundered, do better.”

There were also Dame Lorraines and Moko Jumbies.

Some soca artistes like Kees Dieffenthaller, Ricardo Drue, Patrice Roberts, Preedy, Nessa Preppy and singer Denyse Plummer also participated in the walk.

Plummer and pianist Johanna Chuckaree were among those who performed.

After, the group congregated outside the Grand Stand, where they had a moment of silence for the women who passed. They then called their names.

Adana Dick, Alana Mohammed, Aniya Mcleod, Ashanti Riley, Andrea Bharatt, Ornella Greaves and Rihanna Gordon, were some of the over 70 women they remembered.

The demonstration, hosted by Women in Carnival in collaboration with other groups, called for reforms in the public transportation system, Police Service and the education system.

“We live under a shadow where there is a war on women and a war on our bodies and we are not free to live the lives that we want and the lives that we deserve and the lives we are entitled to,” Renuka Anandjit, IGDS Ignite coordinator said.

To ensure their voices are heard Anandjit said they have started a ‘Write your MP’ campaign so that apart from the vigils and protests, people can let those in authority know exactly what they face on a day-to-day basis in this country.

“We have enough persons to take a stand… do something because if you don’t stand up this will continue,” she said.

Information on the campaign can be found on Feminitt’s social media pages.

Activist Attillah Springer compared Monday’s action to that of the Canboulay riots of 1881.

She said women were at the forefront of the fight for freedom then and they will do it again now.

“You used my body for your own benefit and now I am using my body to insult you into recognizing that my body is actually mine,” she said.

She said it was the demands of the women of the time to do something of the situation that precipitated the Canboulay riots.

‘And we need to honour that energy,” she said.