Posted: Tuesday, July 7, 2020. 8:48 am CST.
The views expressed in this article are those of the writer and not necessarily those of Breaking Belize News.
By Lisa Shoman: I look at my UNIBAM rubber bracelet from 12 years ago. It says WE ARE ONE IN DIGNITY AND RIGHTS.
Here we go. None of us is free from discrimination and injustice until we are all free. When I was Counsel to UNIBAM there were a few times that I had to remind that if you are a minority or oppressed group you cannot fight for your rights without supporting the fight of others.
The LGBTTQIA community won the legal fight for human dignity. For the first time that I know of, in recorded legal history in Belize, the Supreme Court declared that human dignity is guaranteed by the Constitution of Belize to all, and that right is enforceable.
Human dignity. That is what it comes down to fundamentally. That and the fact that the same Constitution recognizes that you have inalienable rights granted by YOUR Creator.
Street Stop and search without due cause is discriminatory. Taking photos of men to put in a data base is discriminatory. Breaking down doors and tossing a house without probable cause is discriminatory.
I understand that the boutique owner has been robbed at gunpoint and fears for life and property. The fear is real and her motive was not flimsy or suspect or unreasonable.
That isn’t enough, however to discriminate against men entering the store at all.
This isn’t about sensitivity or as the kids call it, “butthurt”.
It’s about the same instinct that causes owners to make store clerks follow certain individuals while they shop. You can quote statistics to justify that too.
But put bluntly, it’s gender apartheid. Apartheid simply means a system or policy of discrimination. It’s an Afrikaans word meaning separateness.
I’ve seen many many posts defending the owner on the basis that she is a good reasonable person who was simply taking advice to try to protect herself, her staff and her business. I hear that. I’m sure she never intended the massive disrespect that the post engendered.
But it is, in fact, massive disrespect, especially in a small country in which men do buy a significant amount of merchandise for “their women and girls”.
In point of fact, it would be disrespectful anywhere and illegal in many places globally.
I hope the lesson was learned. The post came down but the backlash migrated to the media. The owner has an opportunity now, to explain the motive, apologize and to shift the discourse. I hope she does.
If there is any lesson here, is that wrong is wrong no matter the intent. And the person who is wronged has every right to feel “sensitive”. As a human rights advocate, I’m sensitive to those wrongs. I see them.
We like tek things mek bad joke. We like to belittle others to make ourselves look big, or strong, or better. And this case is no exception.
But when we in Belize do that, we stifle the real conversation that needs to take place in our multigenerational multiracial, multiethnic, multi-gendered nation.
Belize isn’t divorced or insulated from global convulsions on recognizing discrimination and rights.
We are one in dignity and rights.
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