Min. Ramsaran’s behaviour mirrors Jagdeo and Nandlall – APNU+AFC
…crosses every boundary of decency The Women and Youth Groups of A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC)
Coalition has added their voices to the many others which have registered utter disapproval of the ‘slap and strip threat’ made recently by Minister of Health, Bheri Ramsaran. Last Monday, Ramsaran verbally abused and threatened activist Sherlina Nageer because she, from all indications, touched a nerve as she questioned him about his presence on a protest front when the country’s health sector was in crisis . In expressing its disgust with the Minister’s comments the coalition on Friday said, “Ramsaran’s behaviour crosses every boundary of decency. He has once again demonstrated the crassness and total disrespect for this nation’s women. We are now convinced that this is an entrenched culture within the halls of Freedom House.” The APNU+AFC coalition recalled “countless incidents of similar behaviour by former President Bharrat Jagdeo” and the “utterly vulgar, expletive-laced and condescending descriptions of a young reporter by the incumbent Attorney General, Anil Nandlall… We still cringe when we listen to the recent threats Ramsaran issued to Nageer.” The APNU+AFC described the governing People’s Progressive Party/Civic as a crew of “foul-mouthed, disrespectful, uncultured officials” who have shown Guyanese time and time again that they have abrogated unto themselves the right to mistreat citizens.
“The PPP/C is providing Guyanese with the reasons to remove them from the leadership of this country. They have taken the trust and confidence that our people gave to them to lead us onto a path of development and enlightenment, and turned that trust into embarrassment at home and abroad, into verbal abuse of ordinary citizens, professionals and even of high ranking personages of the like Dr. Yesu Persaud. “This abuse has to stop now. We have grown tired of their constant spewing of racist rhetoric and their indulgence in hate mongering. The PPP/C is a stain on Guyana’s international image,” said APNU+AFC.” Last Monday Minister Ramsaran was leading a protest demonstration outside the Whim Magistrate’s Court, Corentyne, Berbice, in support of former President Bharrat Jagdeo whose matter was being heard at the time inside the court. As he was being interviewed by reporters, Ramsaran said that those who mounted the protest were representing Jagdeo and were against the “wife beater” Christopher Ram. At that point, Nageer interjected, questioning Ramsaran as to whether Jagdeo hasn’t abused his wife as well. She went on to ask the Minister why he was wasting time on a protest line when he has more important issues to attend to with regard to Guyana’s health sector. Responding to Nageer’s questions, Ramsaran shouted, “Shut your mouth and get out my face.” He subsequently called Nageer a “little piece of s**t” and boasted that he would very well “slap her ass, just for the fun of it and have some of his women strip her here.”
While the Women and Gender Equality Commission remains silent on the issue, several sections of society came out against it. Among those who have condemned the Health Minister are President Donald Ramotar and his running mate, PPP/C’s Prime Ministerial Candidate Elisabeth Harper, Education Minister Priya Manickchand, former President Bharrat Jagdeo and the youth and women arms of the APNU+AFC, Red Thread and the envoys of the ABC countries. “Disgraceful and Unacceptable-”United States Speaking to an online news agency, US Charge d’Affaires Bryan Hunt had stated that such statements have no place in a country like Guyana, that has a high rate of domestic violence and sexual and gender-based violence. Hunt was recorded as saying “In a country that has a domestic violence rate as high as Guyana’s and a sexual assault rate as high as Guyana’s, it is downright irresponsible for any senior politician to make the statement to any woman, in public or in private, that the Minister of Health made the other day. It is completely unacceptable.” The US Charge d’Affaires reasoned that there is no “possible reason or rationale to threaten sexual violence against anyone, but especially against a woman, given Guyana’s very serious gender-based violence problem”. “I think the damage is much more severe than what the activist heard or the offence that she took at the remarks. I think it conveys a sense from a senior government official that somehow sexual violence is something that is appropriate to use, appropriate to threaten, and somehow societally acceptable and it’s not. It can’t be,” Hunt told the online agency. The excuse offered by Ramsaran was deemed unacceptable by the US envoy who made it clear that he does not believe that there is any possible provocation that any woman could have made that would legitimately result in a response in which a senior government official threatens that woman with violence. “The Minister’s conduct was beyond, it was disgraceful…” “Should he resign out of his own volition? I’m not going to prescribe to the Minister what he ought to do, but what I will say is, in the United States if one of our candidate officials were to have made that sort of comment, that person would have been expected to resign without question. Hunt held that the same principle would hold true across any number of countries that a Minister making that type of inappropriate remark for whatever reason, would have chosen voluntarily to step down.
Has no place in 21st Century -United Kingdom Additionally, High Commissioner of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to Guyana, James Gregory Quinn described Ramsaran’s remarks as nothing short of ‘disgraceful.’ The UK envoy told members of the media on Friday that had this been his country, Dr. Ramsaran would no longer be a Government Minister or even a member of the political party. “To be brutally frank, what the Minister of Health said was disgraceful. The language he used and more importantly the sentiment that it is acceptable to use violence, in particularly sexual violence against a woman, has got no place whatsoever in the 21st century.” He went on to state, “If that had been a UK Minister who had said that, he would no longer be a UK Minister and he would no longer be a member of the political party.”
Threats against women unacceptable- Canada Meanwhile, the High Commission of Canada on Friday said “The remarks uttered are disturbing and the High Commission of Canada condemns any form of abuse, including verbal and threatened, towards women. Threats of violence against women are never acceptable.” The High Commission said that the struggle to fully attain women’s rights, in Guyana and around the world, is an ongoing battle that must be won. “Such incidents weaken the progress that has been made. Global statistics produced by the UN, reinforce the need to strengthen women’s rights…” “All partners should be unwaveringly committed to advancing the rights of women. Political leaders have a special responsibility because they have the largest platforms, influence and decision-making ability. The High Commission of Canada hopes that leaders recognise the critical role they play in governance, including providing leadership and empowering the citizens of Guyana, including women.” Despite this, his party, the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) stated that the Health Minister’s actions were being blown out of proportion. Of note, it was mere hours after issuing an apology for his “harsh words” that the Minister launched another tirade against Nageer. As he addressed a meeting of Regional Health Officers at the Main Street Plaza, Georgetown the Health Minister was recorded labeling Nageer a “miscreant,” and that she was in need of “psychiatric help.” Last April, the Health Minister had similarly come in for criticisms after he made unwanted sexual remarks to a journalist of this newspaper. Ramsaran reportedly told the 22-year old journalist who sought an interview, “I want you to know that I am a bachelor and I can still get an erection.” Also, a few years back, a PPP member who worked at the Ministry of Education had alleged that she asked him to drop home her 14-year-old daughter but instead he took her to an East Coast Demerara village where he reportedly fondled her private parts.