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Alicia Wallace

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ALICIA WALLACE: Know your rights over family leave

THERE are many laws in The Bahamas that need to be reformed for various reasons. Over the past few years, I have specifically focused on gender inequality in the law and laws that have the effect of perpetuating and sustaining gender stereotypes. One law that does not often get attention is the Employment Act.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Back to the office - but is that best?

MOST of us spend more time working than doing anything else. We are trained for this from childhood.

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ALICIA WALLACE: No excuse for failing to disclose on time

HERE we are again. It is a familiar place. Government administrations change with some regularity, and many of the practices remain the same.

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ALICIA WALLACE: How you can make Mother’s Day magical

MOTHER’S Day is just a few days away, and many are scrambling to make plans and purchases for the mothers in their lives.

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ALICIA WALLACE: How to make groups work online - and what to avoid

THIS week, I joined two working groups on separate thematic areas, and these groups are meant to produce reports within a short time period.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Keep the masks

AS mask mandates are overturned and removed in other parts of the world, we are forced to depend more heavily on others to help manage our own risks related to COVID-19.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Read the facts, learn the problem - then act

APRIL is Sexual Assault Awareness Month — a period for raising awareness and educating the public on sexual assault in parallel with advocacy for laws, policies, programmes, and services to prevent it, effectively respond to it, and ensure access to justice for survivors.

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ALICIA WALLACE: We need more than laws

LAST week was tough. The conversations taking place in public and private spaces were difficult. Reading the news was a chore. The constant barrage of video clips, audio snippets, and sensational quotes were intrusive and exhausting.

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ALICIA WALLACE: There is no such thing as good violence

“Jada, I love ya, GI Jane 2, can’t wait to see it, aight?” That is what Chris Rock said on stage at the Academy Awards on Sunday night. He used the 1997 movie GI Jane which starred Demi Moore with a buzzcut to reference Jada Pinkett-Smith’s bald head. Pinkett-Smith’s bald head is not exactly a style choice, but the result of alopecia. On Sunday night, sitting in the audience, she was visibly annoyed by the comment, rolling her eyes, showing exhaustion.

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ALICIA WALLACE: We see violence against women all around us

A 26-year-old father was charged with incest, indecent assault, and child cruelty this week. He appeared before Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt for sexually abusing his three-year-old daughter.

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ALICIA WALLACE: It’s not enough to say how sad we are - we have to take action

OVER the past few days, we have been talking about the death of yet another woman who was a victim of domestic violence.

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ALICIA WALLACE: When will we just face the facts and accept this simple truth?

YESTERDAY was International Women’s Day and there were thousands of events held all over the world to raise awareness of issues women face, celebrate the progress that has been made, recognize women whose contributions have helped us to move closer to gender equality and kickstart new initiatives and programmes.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Ask the difficult questions today for the caregiving we’ll need to provide tomorrow

EARLIER this week, a video of an elderly woman being abused by a supposed caregiver made the rounds and drew commentary from shocked and disgusted members of the public.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Now we live in the Zoom world let’s make sure we get the most out it

WE have all attended far too many Zoom events over the past few years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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ALICIA WALLACE: The signs are there - you just have to be able to read them

THIS week started with Valentine’s Day and there were countless roses, chocolates, greeting cards and romantic gestures going around.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Why are we so reluctant to talk about salaries?

OVER the past few days, Bahamian Twitter has been talking about pay. The conversation seemed to have started with the observation that salaries are not included in job postings.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Don’t be fooled - this crisis hasn’t gone away

WE are still in the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and case numbers are decreasing week by week.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Soundbites and social media won’t change a thing - we must force through a new mindset on gender-based violence

A FEW years ago I woke up to the sound of an argument in the street. A woman was telling a man to stop, telling him to let her go, telling him to leave her alone. I looked out the window to see them in the middle of the street, him behind her, his arm around her neck. He was berating her as he dragged her along. Their movement was slow. She was struggling.

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ALICIA WALLACE: If people can’t pay their bills or put food on the table, Mr Cooper, how are they expected to save?

Minister of Tourism, Investments and Aviation Chester Cooper says Bahamians do no save or invest enough, and increasing savings and investments is critical to national growth.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Tackling and planning for life’s challenges helps with our mental health

IN recent years, there has been an increase in conversations about and focus on mental health. More and more, people are recognizing it as a part of our overall health and wellbeing, requiring at least as much attention as we give to our physical health.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Four simple steps to really help us make this a better year

HERE we are, in a new calendar year. We always look forward to the fresh start a new year represents, but especially after going through a difficult one.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Testing is key but we need to make it affordable to work

BETWEEN December 23 and December 25, 580 new cases of COVID-19 were recorded. This should come as no surprise given the gatherings that usually takes place during the holidays and the few restrictions that were in place. There should have been better measures to protect against rampant spread of COVID-19, especially given what we already know about the Omicron variant.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Let’s try not to judge - just be happy and kind this holiday season

The holidays are quickly approaching and we are all preparing in different ways. For the past few weeks, traffic has gotten heavier and it has taken more planning and time to get from one place to the next.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Without fundamental cultural change we’ll never really address the horror of rape

ON Monday, it was reported that 30 percent of sexual offence cases were dropped, largely due to the long wait time for trials. Director of Public Prosecutions Garvin Gaskin said: “We’ve had experiences where persons have said just that, ‘I’ve moved on. I’m not going to relive that. I’m now married and my husband doesn’t even know about it’.”

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ALICIA WALLACE: For women, not against men

THE Global 16 Days campaign is always an interesting time for us at Equality Bahamas. Since 2017 when we started participating in the campaign, we have observed the responses from members of the public. Most people are content to ignore it or casually observe the activities while others are either excited by it and looking for ways to participate, or enraged by its existence — not that it is necessary, but that the campaign dares to centre women, people who disproportionately experience gender-based violence.

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ALICIA WALLACE: We need more than knee jerk reactions - the route map to end gender-based violence is already there

Tomorrow is the first day of the Global 16 Days Campaign, also known as 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence. This year, it comes on the heels of several upsetting new stories about gender-based violence against women and girls. Some of the stories were accompanied by video, clearly showing acts of violence and the responses of people nearby.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Action not just anger should be our response to Bella’s death

ON the weekend, it was reported that a four-year-old child was taken to the hospital. Soon after, there were claims on social media that the toddler had been sexually assaulted. The toddler, Bella Walker, died.

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ALICIA WALLACE: We’re not here with a begging bowl but with a demand for real action

THE United Nations Climate Summit, COP26, is drawing 30,000 to Glasgow, Scotland, this week and next. More than 200 countries are party to the United Nations Framework Convention, first established at the Rio Earth summit in 1992.

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ALICIA WALLACE: We must do more to stop domestic violence

EVERYONE is familiar with the term “domestic violence”. It, unfortunately, comes up often enough that it is a regular part of our vocabulary and we believe we know what it means. Domestic violence is violent or aggressive behaviour between people in the same home, and it usually involves partners. We know that it can be physical, but it can take other forms that are often not recognized as domestic violence, and it disproportionately affects women.

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ALICIA WALLACE: We need to have our say at climate talks

IN less than two weeks, world leaders and activists will meet at COP26, the United Nations Climate Change Conference. The conference will be hosted by the United Kingdom in partnership with Italy. Parties that signed the 1994 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) treaty.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Fashion parade and dress code police

DRESS codes, to some people, are necessary. To others, they are restrictive. The way they are received depends heavily on the reason they are introduced, the effectiveness in addressing that cause, enforcement, and the consequences, both intended and unintended, of their existence. It often seems as though we like dress codes. It isn’t that we particularly enjoy being constrained, but watching other people fail to meet the standard appears to be a favourite pastime.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Petito case is one of too many cases where women are being killed

GABRIELLE “Gabby” Petito, a 22-year-old white woman went missing while on a cross-country road trip to Wyoming with her fiancé Brian. They had been documenting their trip on YouTube as Nomadic Statik and Van Life, but 23-year-old Brian returned to Florida, in her 2012 Ford Transit van, without her on September 1.

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ALICIA WALLACE: There are voices out there the new government should be listening to

Cabinet appointments have been made, and we have all noticed the number is quite high. Whether the new administration is piloting a new way to address the issues we are facing today or it is paying for favours or rewarding loyalty, taxpayers are footing the bill.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Still not enough but the women in Parliament have a real job to do

The general election came last week and brought many challenges with it, some of them noted by the election observers. There was not, in any of the reports thus far, enough attention on the disenfranchisement of voters. Many young people did not register to vote before the election date was announced as they were under the impression the election would be held in May 2022. People displaced from Abaco and Grand Bahama who intend to return home were unable to vote in their current islands of residence.

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ALICIA WALLACE: If you’re going to vote tomorrow - stay safe

Tomorrow, we go to the polls. Well, some of us. I have heard from numerous people that they are definitely not going or are still very unsure about voting in the election due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the current raging wave of cases as well as the video evidence of an obviously disorganized advanced poll. For many, uncertainty turned into definite opt-outs when the announcement was made that people who are supposed to be in quarantine will also be allowed to present at the poll and vote alongside everyone else.

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ALICIA WALLACE: A week to go and there’s no clue on how election day will work

THE general election is in one week and we still do not know how the process will be managed given the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in the country. By now, we should know the measures being taken to keep us all safe and what is required of us to keep each other safe as we exercise our rights to participate in the election.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Identifying the realities of virtual learning for our children

The return to the virtual learning environment is difficult for many parents and students. The last school year was difficult, barely transitioning from in-person teaching to the virtual learning environment.

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ALICIA WALLACE: We vote in a broken system which fails us and the options in most cases are terrible

THE signs are here – and they are terrible. The uninteresting, uninspiring, unsightly lawn signs litter New Providence with red, yellow and not much else.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Learn, listen then explain and perhaps people will feel ready for the vaccine

WE are tired of the COVID-19 pandemic and there is no end in sight. The Prime Minister made the ridiculous statement a few weeks ago that the pandemic is over for the vaccinated. That was far from the truth. While some of us have some protection, we are all still vulnerable to COVID-19 and its effects.

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ALICIA WALLACE: You shouldn’t need to be exceptional to enjoy basic rights

“You like bad treatment.” When is the last time you heard that? Whether it was directed to you or someone else, you likely got the feeling the person saying it does not want to offer their support. How does it feel when someone tells you your situation is due to your failure to remove yourself from it?

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ALICIA WALLACE: We celebrate individual national successes but where are the goals we should all strive for?

It’s that time again. Many people are glued to their televisions, calculating time differences, pulling out their flags to wave, and preparing the honey and lemon to soothe throats after screaming at athletes who cannot hear them.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Time to get serious again and follow the protocols – just like we did a year ago

Here we are again, COVID-19 case numbers rising, tightened restrictions and numerous questions about the effectiveness of the measures put in place by the government. No one wants to be restricted like this, but most of us understand we all need to cooperate in order to help save lives by reducing the spread of the virus.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Playing games over the date of the election is another abuse of power

We want a fixed election date. The Free National Movement promised a fixed election date. It was one of its 2017 campaign promises. It, along with many others, has not received any attention from the Free National Movement administration. It is, to most of us, no surprise that we are here today, speculating on the date of the next general election, fully aware that it can be called any day.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Planning for the future - but do we really have one?

Independence is always an interesting time in The Bahamas. On the weekend, someone joked that on July 9, people complain about the country. On July 10, The Bahamas is the best place on earth. By July 11, the complaints are back.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Why are we wasting this chance to showcase our talents to the world?

Independence Day is approaching and the planned celebration is going to be different again this year. Due to the COVID-19 safety protocols, it will be an entirely virtual event.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Whose rules to follow in the great dating game?

ON Bahamian social media, there are a few topics that come up over and over again, always without resolution. On an endless loop, people on opposite sides argue their positions or, more accurately, argue against other positions. In these pseudo-conversations, some people actively participate by engaging others, some state their own opinions while others have side conversations on the topic at hand or one adjacent to it.

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ALICIA WALLACE: There’s so much to see and do right on our doorstep

Summer is officially here, students have time off from school and adults are taking vacation. Travel may seem too complicated and be too expensive right now, so we have to think about how we can make the most of this time here at home. There is more to do than most of us realise, likely because our days our packed with too many errands and obligations in addition to employment. When we have time off and set fun as the goal for the day, even the most ordinary outings can be enjoyable.

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ALICIA WALLACE: All you wanted to know but were frightened to ask

The US Embassy has been flying the Pride flag for two weeks as Pride Month continues. It is a great time to learn more about the LGBTQ+ community. If you do not know what the L, G, B, T, Q, or plus stands for, get ready to learn.

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ALICIA WALLACE: What does the Pride flag flying really say to you?

Yesterday was the first day of Pride Month which is not only a celebration of sexual diversity and community, but a set of activities that assert the humanity of LGBTQI+ people and a direct response to the shaming and oppression carried out against them.

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ALICIA WALLACE: A boy’s murder at school is a terrible wake-up call that things must change

The murder of 15-year-old student Kenm Paul at Government High School last week was not the first tragedy of its kind. These incidents stir many emotions and lead us to wonder what is happening within the school and between students. While we know nothing excuses violence, we search for the cause. For some of us, the focus is on finding solutions. How do we stop violence in schools and, in particular, among boys and young men?

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ALICIA WALLACE: If we’re going to have national debates - at least do your homework

Last week, University of The Bahamas and Verizon Media Group held the first in a series of debates this election season.

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ALICIA WALLACE: A cherished voice lost in the fight for women’s rights

This week, the community of women’s rights advocates and feminists in The Bahamas learned of the passing of Donna Nicolls. She was fierce in her advocacy for women’s rights, compassionate in her care for survivors of domestic, sexual and intimate partner violence, generous in her support of other activists and advocates in the human rights space.

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ALICIA WALLACE: We cannot end sexual violence until we understand the issues

During the month of April, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I participated in numerous events including panels and group discussions about sexual violence against women and girls.

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ALICIA WALLACE: They expect our votes but are too cowardly to even stand up and defend themselves

General elections loom ahead with no firm date, though the current administration promised fixed election dates and fixed terms for Prime Ministers in its 2017 campaign, and debates are being organized.

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ALICIA WALLACE: If you’re worried about the vaccine, read up, learn the facts and hopefully, like me, you’ll take it

LAST week, I got my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine. I had been watching and waiting to be eligible, ready to get vaccinated even before the vaccines were ready.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Our Caribbean cousins need help and we should not be slow to provide it

On Friday, April 9 there was an explosive eruption of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ La Soufrière volcano for the first time since 1979. It sent plumes of ash 3.7 miles into the air. This came one day after the country’s Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves issued a Stage 3 disaster alert which was followed by an evacuation order to communities in the red zone. Early estimates indicated that 16,000 people—15 percent of the population—would be displaced as a direct result of this disaster.

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ALICIA WALLACE: It’s everyone’s job to keep our children safe

APRIL is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and, in recent weeks, there have been several reports of men attempting to assault school-age girls. There has been the usual outrage. It is horrifying to know these predators are on the loose, targeting children. If not for the vigilance and intervention of others, more children would be victims of sexual assault.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Gender bias is all around us and it’s time that changed

This week, some women in frontline politics were asked whether or not gender bias exists in politics. Their responses made it clear there is not only a limited understanding of gender bias, but a reluctance to acknowledge it. Perhaps there is concern that acknowledgment would be seen as making excuses or a sign of weakness rather than what it actually is — recognising and naming an issue that pervades our lives.

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ALICIA WALLACE: How can people still think it’s a woman’s job to look after the home?

This week, a family’s story was made public in a request for financial assistance.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Another night to feast on the highs and lows of the Grammys

The Grammy Awards always get people talking. From who wore what and who won what to the speeches and snubs, there is more than enough material for people looking for jokes, gossip and something to criticise. This year, there were awkward moments, firsts and social distancing with masks.

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ALICIA WALLACE: If we want more women in politics it needs more than lip service to make it happen

INTERNATIONAL Women’s Day was on Monday and, of course, it came with radio talk show slots, panel discussions, presentations and purple attire. It is an annual day to celebrate the progress women have made and to take action toward the changes that still need to happen.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Serena has nothing to prove even if she doesn’t lift that 24th crown

Last week, Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka met again at the Australian Open. I have always been #TeamSerena.

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ALICIA WALLACE: It’s time to stop playing lip service to women’s role in government

International Women’s Day is less than a month away and the Commission on the Status of Women at the United Nations follows closely behind. The themes for these events focus on women’s leadership.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Throwing money at a problem doesn’t mean it’s going to go away

Last week, it was reported a woman was sleeping in a car with her children, including an infant. She was asked to leave her previous apartment after being allowed to live there rent-free for several months. She expressed concern about her children’s education, noting her daughter had fallen behind over the past year. She noted there were other people in the same situation, forced on to the streets.

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ALICIA WALLACE: It’s our job to protect young girls by recognising the reality facing us

The issue of sexual violence against women and girls is in the media too often for us to pretend the incidents are isolated or separate from systemic issues. We struggle to recognise and address some of those issues, such as capitalism and misogyny, while others are universal enough to receive widespread acknowledgement.

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ALICIA WALLACE: ‘Some people’s paradise is other people’s plantation’

THERE are some arguments that never seem to end. We return to the same questions over and over again.

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‘Don’t blame the victims, blame the men who rape them’

A WOMEN’S rights advocate wants society to stop placing the blame on young vulnerable girls being lured out of their homes and becoming victims of statutory rape and hold the men responsible accountable for their actions.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Just plain wrong from every perspective, Mr Commissioner

THIS week, the Commissioner of Police reported there were 11 suicides in 2020, up from eight in 2019. He said this was due to people — men, in particular — being “weak”. The suggestion is absurd, offensive and incorrect.

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ALICIA WALLACE: It’s work and it doesn’t matter who is doing it

LAST week, I observed an online conversation about the suitability of migrant and Bahamian workers for domestic work. Someone was looking for a domestic worker and specifically noted they were not interested in a Bahamian employee and listed specific characteristics they did not want.

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ALICIA WALLACE: The system doesn’t work and we shouldn’t just measure our children against it

THERE is a story about a family with generations of people baking turkeys in the same way. They always cut the legs off before putting it in the pan to bake. When being taught to a cook turkeys, the youngest generation asked why it is done that way. The parents said they did it that way because their parents did it that way. Unwilling to leave it at that, the youngest generation asked the grandparents why the legs are always cut off. The grandparents said they only did it that way because the pan wasn’t big enough for the whole turkey to fit.

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ALICIA WALLACE: For 2021, think S.M.A.R.T

WE’RE coming to the end of the confusing period between December 25 and January 1. During this time, a lot of people don’t seem to know what day it is or what is going on. From bed to shower to breakfast to bed to couch to lunch, time moves whether we mark it or not. It feels like the busyness of the year catches up with us during this time and we are forced to feel the listlessness and lack of motivation we have to ignore or push through when there seems to be no good reason to pause. For once, in December, some of us get to just drift.

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ALICIA WALLACE: It’s okay to enjoy Christmas

MOST people say it doesn’t feel like Christmas week. There isn’t much holiday spirit in the air, but we are doing the best we can to feel and look festive.

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ALICIA WALLACE: The right voices need to be in the room and must be speaking for everybody

LAST week, I moderated the second session in the Commonwealth Foundation’s Critical Conversation series. The event, entitled “Young Leaders Speak,” was a collaboration with the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and Commonwealth Youth Council and brought young people together to talk about their leadership experience, activism and demands of Commonwealth institutions.

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ALICIA WALLACE: What about problems facing men?

TOMORROW is the last day of the global 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence campaign coordinated by the Centre for Women’s Global Leadership. It is also International Human Rights Day.

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ALICIA WALLACE: What it takes to lead and, most importantly, pass the baton on

There are positions of leadership and there are a particular set of skills, competencies and flexibility that, used appropriately make leadership successful. How often do they meet?

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ALICIA WALLACE: Throwing the spotlight on a problem which just won’t go away

Today, International Day to End Violence Against Women (IDEVAW), is the first of 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence.

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ALICIA WALLACE: While others play by the rules others show total disregard – we won’t forget them

I know two couples who rescheduled their weddings multiple times this year. Neither of them had planned huge ceremonies or receptions, but they had plans.

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ALICIA WALLACE: What message are they sending - stay away, stay locked up, you can’t come here?

We have endured, over the past seven months, more than we could have ever imagined. The first lockdown was a shock but, for the most part, we accepted it as a necessary and temporary measure.

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ALICIA WALLACE: Why do we continue to allow the Church to pull the strings on so many aspects of our lives?

We have a serious problem with the relationship between the church (used here as shorthand for a select group of religious leaders speaking on behalf of Christian churches) and the State.

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ALICIA WALLACE: We need to join up thinking - and action - to tackle gender-based violence

IT IS Domestic Violence Awareness Month and, story after story, our attention is drawn to the broader issue of the gender-based violence we are failing to address.

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ALICIA WALLACE: What really makes a national hero?

Over the past few days, there has been heated discussion about the five people recognised as national heroes. There are people who believe one or more of those people to be undeserving of the designation and there are people who have others in mind who have done more or better. Considering the recommendations and criticism, we do not have a solid definition of a national hero.

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ALICIA WALLACE: People in power need to stop paying lip service to the problem and do something about it

Since the murder of a young mother and her daughter, the issue of domestic violence has been getting more attention in the media.

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