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Girls gone wild

By Terry Joseph
March 17, 2006

Thankfully, most Trinis have not seen pictures from a scandalous display by a small number of fairly young girls at the Ash Wednesday "Cool Down" on Manzanilla Beach, which was witnessed by thousands at the event, in fact, apparently everyone but law enforcement officers stationed there.

Now, this took place in a predominantly Christian country and on a day when the more devout began a period of atonement for excesses during Carnival by taking ashes from the parish priest, while others headed out to the south-east coast for the event that, regulars say, always features a wining competition which, in recent years, has frequently crossed the line.

More the pity, International Women's Day was precisely a week hence, so while these young tarts were involved in degrading the gender, the majority of ladies were concomitantly preparing activities designed to heighten regard for the female of the species, among the fundamentals of their mission an enhancement of respect for the woman.

For those still unfamiliar with details of the Manzanilla scandal, some entrants in the wining competition, perhaps thinking basic choreography might not nudge them ahead of other contestants, decided to add a few unscripted tricks to their presentations, including the removal of bikini bottoms and spreading of labia; the more lecherous men lapping up the vista with one-as captured in a thoroughly disgusting picture-inserting a sex toy.

The even more debasing aspect (if that were possible) is that these women were participating for prizes of no greater value than an outfit sponsored by a popular Arima store and $100 in cash donated by a presumably entertained male member of the audience. In the sum, the cash value of exposing their private parts in public would bring the winner no more than $350.

While these incredulous acts were taking place onstage, law enforcement officers, a combination of police and military, apparently stood down, taking in the show themselves, instead of bringing a halt to the nastiness, as would be the case if such acts were being performed in a private club exclusively for adults so inclined.

We have often seen reports of raids on clandestine gatherings, where young women are charged with lewdness and those there to watch arrested for presumably passive participation but on Ash Wednesday, none of the officers felt it necessary to intervene and stop the obscenity.

Worse, no officer reported the matter to his/her superiors, so that Police Commissioner Trevor Paul, Chief of Defence Staff Brigadier Ancil Antoine and Special Anti-Crime Unit Director Brigadier Peter Joseph, were caught unawares when reporters raised the issue at a news conference fully two days later.

When informed that the Express was in possession of a number of photographs of women exposing themselves on a stage at the Manzanilla event, Commissioner Paul and Briagadier Antoine both asked that the photographs be made available to them, promising to launch separate investigations into the delinquency of their officers, the Police Chief adding that if the perpetrators could be identified, they too would be brought to book.

All of this is woefully late, given that no police or military unit is dispatched to such duty without a hierarchical structure, so that there was bound to be a couple of corporals, sergeants and perhaps even an inspector present at the material time and, given the nature of the crime, must have been similarly attracted to the performances onstage. That they did not instruct junior officers to intervene seems more the dereliction.

In fact, we may reasonably extrapolate from this extraordinary situation that, given their tolerance of what is a tectonic shift in morality, if the officers had seen pickpockets plying their trade, music pirates selling illegal CDs or infringements of a less than patently violent nature, they would also have turned blind eyes; which is at least equally frightening.

Commissioner Paul said if investigations show that officers on duty were aware of the activities and did nothing to stop the vulgarity, action will be taken against them. To my mind, if those officers on duty did not see what was taking place on stage, they should first be punished for blatantly ineffective surveillance except, of course, such officers were deployed to far flung car parks with instructions to deliberately avoid looking in the direction of the stage.

If police and army seniors are familiar with the "broken-window" theory that worked successfully in the attempt to reduce crime in New York, they must know it is the seemingly little things that must be addressed first.

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