I honestly don’t know how else to start this article other than with the question – why do we hate gals?

I’m not trying to be inflammatory, and I swear I’m not trying to cause some sort of ruckus. But damn it, look around at our country and tell me that we, collectively as Bahamians, don’t hate gals. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

This discussion became even more real to me ever since I became the father of a beautiful little girl. As parents, me and my wife have to help her navigate being a woman in a time and country that literally just hates gals.

You know what the sad part is, we don’t even just hate gals in one way, we hate gals in a resounding number of ways. Come look at this:

“Vote No”

Y’all remember 2016 right? Remember how there was a referendum on gender equality? Remember how people confused the language of the bills and voted no because they thought that a Yes vote would “open the door to gay marriage”?

Remember how you could vote for each of the four bills individually, meaning if you thought one was bad and the other was good, you could vote no for one and yes for the other three?

Memba?

I’m not going to say this was solely the fault of gals, but…

Look at Andrew saying stuff that no one else wants to

In fairness, there were many people at fault for this.  I mean, think about it, in 2016 we couldn’t get the majority of Bahamians to agree that there are some ways that our women are not treated equally to our men and that it ought to be fixed. As a COUNTRY we had the opportunity to correct these discriminatory practices and basically we said, “Nah fam, them gyals ain’t need all a dat.”

The #MeToo Movement

When I was fresh out of high school and running around COB trying to “find myself,” I had the combined joy/sadness/frustration of shooting my shot with a couple of different females. I also had a fair amount of strictly platonic female friends.

I’d say I had a good grasp on what made up the average Bahamian gyal.

But, the saddest realization I had during that time was the fact that most of the young women I knew had been sexually abused in some way. It didn’t matter what their background was, what their family situation was, if they were rich, poor or middle-class. I can honestly say most of the females I knew with any sort of closeness had at one point or another been sexually abused.

The saddest part is the fact that the story is mostly identical – someone they knew, a family member or someone close to the family had found a way to gain access to them and abuse them. People talk about why things are the way they are and they point to education, social status, crime etc., how about looking at the fact that for probably more than three generations at least 50% or more of our women – the connective tissue of our families and thus our society as a whole – have been sexually abused or assaulted in some way.

Let’s not even talk about the culture of how we “handle” these situations when the victims are finally emboldened enough to tell the truth.

Oh and miss me with anything about that 50% number is too high. I promise you that number is probably too low. Even moreso when you consider things like verbal or psychological abuse which I have not even included in that 50%.

Listen to me, I know families where almost every female member of the family has endured some type of abuse. But it’s not even just the fact that most of our men can’t seem to find the manhood required to respect the women around us, this gets far more problematic when you consider the fact that gals hate gals just as much. (@ me, I have all the time.)

Gal on Gal Crime

Imagine this scenario. We have a young seasoned professional named Jessica.

She has been gainfully employed in an autonomous role for more than a few years at a local professional organization.

Jessica’s company hires someone, Ashley, who may be coming in to be her boss/replacement. Jessica falls ill and has to miss a month or two from work.  Ashley now sees this an opportunity to try to implement some policies and scenarios that are basically an attempt at removing Jessica from the company entirely so that Ashley can pick out her own little minion as Jessica’s replacement.

Now, in fairness, the company probably gave Ashley the impression initially that this was all cool and wouldn’t be a problem, but Ashley’s own work performance didn’t inspire confidence and thus her plans didn’t come to fruition. But imagine that, a woman coming into an organization with the expressed plan of getting another woman fired – someone who she doesn’t even know.

What type of madness is this?

The Labour Problem

Remember a few months ago when I talked about the journey my wife and I went on during her pregnancy?

Remember when I said: Okay, so before I get too far into this, I am going to make a promise that I won’t talk about the fact that my wife’s employer denied (and is still denying) my wife’s maternity benefit after she has been employed with them for almost two years. Consider that promise broken.

So, let’s start near the beginning. In April my wife applied for maternity leave with her employer.  At the time of the submission of her application, she had been employed with the same entity for roughly 21 months. Now, not to get technical and legal, but, according to the Employment Act:

So, unless I am mistaken, 21 is more than 12… right?

Anyways, back to my story.  So, the HR department did not provide a written response to the request. In the meantime they called my wife to say “you know you’re not eligible for paid maternity leave right?”

Now let me tell you something about me, I am not a fan of BS.

I was amazed at how bad these people seemed to be at math. Again, the law says 12 months, my wife had been employed for 21 months. It’s not exactly 1+1=2, but it’s still fairly elementary math. My wife asked for a written or emailed official response as to her request for leave along with any necessary explanation. After a few more phone calls, ONE OF WHICH TOOK PLACE WHILE MY WIFE WAS IN THE HOSPITAL WITH PNEUMONIA ONLY A WEEK AFTER HAVING A C-SECTION, they were still claiming she was ineligible for paid maternity and would need to apply for unpaid leave.

My wife stuck to her guns of requesting a response in writing so that we could proceed with legal or union action if they indeed remained steadfast in denying her the paid leave.

On June 13, roughly two full months after she applied for leave, she was officially denied paid maternity leave. We immediately began discussions with a lawyer and the appropriate union reps regarding the denial. Not only did they deny her the paid maternity leave, the HR department would not sign off on the appropriate form for NIB so that she could claim that benefit. At this point in the story, I need to mention that everyone standing in the path of my wife receiving her earned paid maternity benefit were women.

Gyals….. Hating….. You know the rest

The request was then reviewed by a number of different individuals at different levels of the organization whom all said she wasn’t eligible.

So, after all of this, we find out from the union reps that the company’s legal personnel had reached out to indicate that they had not been made aware of the request, the challenges by the HR department, and that from their review of the matter, were wrong in their denial of the benefit.

In August, four months after my wife’s initial request, there was finally some resolution to the matter.

I know you’re saying “thank God for a happy ending”, but give it some more time.

Even after all of that, the HR department is still saying the matter is under review and a final determination will be provided upon completion of the review.

So even when there should be victory, they are still trying to leave room for denying her after the review.

So I ask you to consider this, there are other women who were in a similar position as my wife and did not want to be included in this discussion for fear of victimization.

That’s how bad the culture is – educated women, who were fully aware of their rights, decided not to include their names in the fight, for fear of victimization… in 2018. Oh, but we don’t hate gals? Okay then.

EDITOR’S NOTE

So anyone who saw the news this week about the doctors union fighting for their rights and decides to step up and claim that they don’t deserve it I say, once again, @ ME, I HAVE ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD.

I stand with yall

One More Thing

Don’t get me started on the so called people in power in the country who try to answer questions about these same matters in creative ways while a) not addressing the legitimate concerns b) deliberately trying to delegitimize the concerns c) saying a whole lot while saying nothing at all.

Always ready to save a life though

In times when we need someone in power to actually stand up for the rights of our women, all we get is double speak and cloudy answers that don’t actually progress the conversation or the country in any meaningful direction on this significant issue.

Everything Else

Now, this by no means indicates that these are lesser issues, but on top of the type of stuff above, we still live in a world where there is wage disparity between men and women for doing the same jobs.

You still have companies that will find a way to fire a woman who has had a child (or in the company’s mind, one too many children for their liking). I mean, there are companies who will fire a woman while pregnant who has lost more than one pregnancy while employed for the same organization, ya know, because they’re simply tired of dealing with a pregnant woman.

You have corporate entities that know of sexual harassment in their company and do nothing about it.

Wrap It Up

In 2018, these are the types of things that we are still doing to our women here in THIS VERY Bahamaland. I don’t really know how else to say this, but we really need to do better. For all of our Bahamian women, young, old and in between and for the overall health of our nation, we just really need to do better.

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