Friday, August 7th, 2015. Aaron Humes Reporting: This week, Belize Telemedia Limited removed two Facebook posts with suggestive content after complaints by prominent Belizeans including Senator and attorney Senior Counsel Lisa Shoman.
The telephone provider on Wednesday sent out a short statement from Chairman of the Executive Committee Anwar Barrow responding to an open letter from Shoman as follows: quote, “We acknowledge receipt of your letter dated yesterday 4 August, 2015.
As an immediate response I can say that we agree that those particular two social media posts were offensive and as such removed them immediately upon concerns being raised by another member of the public prior to your letter. We have subsequently put in place a proper screening process for social media posts and will be further considering other supplemental measures.
The company sincerely apologizes to our customers for any offense taken. The company will be issuing a more substantive, formal response on Friday of this week in relation to this matter.”
That release was sent this afternoon and in it the company commits to training its employees in diversity sensitivity in order to avoid a repeat of the complaints. It says, quote, “Rest assured that it was never the intent of the company to, with ill intent, use social media posts deemed degrading to any human being.
For this we extend our deepest apologies to those offended. We have taken note of all the concerns raised and recommendations shared by our customers and citizens of Belize and will move to implement a more conscientious form of advertising moving forward.” End quote.
BTL’s PR department declined media requests for interviews today. We had tried to sit down with Senator Shoman earlier this week following the release of the letter but she was out of the country. The Senator’s complaints, shared by many others, include the use of Hollywood actress Jennifer Coolidge’s photo with accompanying text thought to be degrading of older women as “insatiable pedophiles.”
The other, even more outrageous post featured a bound and gagged young woman held by a man, tied to text promoting the Nightshift talk and text program. Here BTL is accused of condoing and promoting rape culture. Earlier complaints concerned billboard advertisements of women provocatively used to promote Digicell services.
Shoman, a former board chairman, demanded an apology and cessation of the campaign, sanctions for offenders, the appointment of experts to determine the extent of misogyny and homophobia at BTL; and the establishment of a policy protecting women from degradation.
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