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“#ConsentIsIn, including at Carnival”
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“#ConsentIsIn, including at Carnival”

Everyone’s an advocate until it requires them to actually practice what they preach. writes Ashlee Burnett, 20, a Correspondent from Couva in Trinidad, as she examines consent in the context of Carnival.

Everyone’s an activist until it requires them to act on everything they preach against.

In 2017, women’s rights were celebrated; her right to say yes or no and the expectation that it should be respected was preached world wide. It is now 2018, one has to ask for permission to wine (dancing) and the country is in uproar. The celebration has ended.

Soca music, year after year, celebrates the lyrics of “thiefing a wine”. That phrase in itself, although sounding so innocent, is indeed weighted. It carries a note that the “wine” wasn’t consented, and was achieved through a “dip in dip out” scenario. “Wining” is a major part of our fete culture. The music is in our veins and as Trinibagonians, with waists flexing like wires, we express our musical enjoyment by spreading arms and letting go.

As a party-goer, I have experienced countless times guys who try to “thief a wine” and I had to give them the “hand” as an indication to leave me alone. Other times, I’d have to forcefully push them away, uttering “leave me alone”. Sometimes, I flavour it with a little obscenity here and there, because the idea of just wanting to dance by myself is never understood when you deny consent nicely.

Now we have recently-implemented a sexual conduct law that states that one has to get permission to engage in physical contact with another during carnival or any sort of events; which basically translates to “get permission before gyration”.

Social media was up in arms condemning the law. Many have voiced their preference of being charged rather than asking for permission. Even women complain that it’s absurd that such a law is even created. The thing is, being given power over your own body is such a rare thing that when granted, it seems unfitting and strange.

Imagine feeling so entitled to a woman’s body that you fail to recognise when she decides to give consent or not.

You are not entitled to anyone’s body.

You are in control of your own body. No one is entitled to it. You have the right to give consent and to deny it. Consent can exist in both non-verbal and verbal communication, but sometimes people see what they want to see just to satisfy their desire. Carnival and fetes can be enjoyed safely, without making anyone uncomfortable by not getting permission.

This year we celebrate consent. One step closer to winning.

#ConsentIsIN

Photo credit: Eric.Parker D7K_7505_ep via photopin (license)
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About me: I’m a student of the University of the Southern Caribbean, a poet and a teaching artist with the 2 Cents Movement. I’m also a blogger, with interests in Gender Based Violence and youth development. I was a delegate in the Caribbean Regional Youth Council Policy and Advocacy Conference where I gained the skill of position paper writing for advocacy. My goal is to implement policies in my country to ensure equality through equity for all.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?
To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/

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