One of the surpporters of the Institute for Gender and Development studies (IGDS) IGINTE, Femintt, Youth Humanitarian foundation, Youth Advocacy Network (TTYAN) & UWI Guild of students write on the pavement, during the Call to Action outside the Red House, yesterday.

Akash Samaroo

Students attached to the Institute of Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies St Augustine are demanding a meeting with the Minister of Works and Transport to discuss how the state can make public transport safer for women.

But Sinanan is not the only one they’re hoping is in that meeting.

They want the various maxi and maxi-taxi association heads there as well.

Holding up placards outside the Red House at noon yesterday that read ‘DSS= Help from outside authorities, Violence against women and girls= nothing’ and ‘safety is a nation responsibility’, the group said the narrative cannot be educating women on how to be safer.

The students say the onus should be on those transporting women and girls to make their environment a safe one.

And they say keeping away from private for hire or PH cars, cannot be an option.

“Research shows that of the population that uses PH taxis, 69 per cent are women and we cannot stop using public transport because some of us cannot afford to buy cars. Meet with us, let us come up with a plan, let us have gender training,” said IGDS student Shalinee Bahadur.

But they’re looking for more than words and empty promises, co-founder of #catcallsofuwi and IGDS student, Kelsie Joseph said those who work in public transport cannot turn a blind eye to this persistent problem.

“To live as a woman is to live in constant fear, we’re scared to use public transportation, we’re scared and tired, it hurts because it can be anyone of us next.”

Another student piped up.

“I don’t know how much safer I can be, I do everything I travel in H car, Andrea did everything she could as well, what else do you want us to do. I’m tired of being told I’m sorry, I’m fed up with people saying their thoughts are with us, we want action.”

The students said the training for all involved is badly needed as there is a serious problem with rape culture and misogyny in Trinidad and Tobago.

“So, when we say why you come to a party if you don’t want to dance on somebody, that enforces rape culture and by saying those types of things you push a culture that is literally killing us all.”

The group said they’re patiently awaiting statements by their politicians; they say they have not heard a word yet from anyone who was elected to the building which stands mere feet from their placards.