There is no statistical data to support the “erroneous, alarming and hypocritical” statement from the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) that Bahamas Carnival’s road march has the potential to lead to sexual violence or rape, Bahamas Carnival Band Owners Association (BCBOA) President Rafel Dean said yesterday.
BCC President Bishop Delton Fernander called the road march a display of sexuality, nudity and vulgarity which has challenged the moral, ethical and cultural practices of The Bahamas.
“Saturday, May 4, 2019 will mark the fifth year of Bahamas Carnival, formerly Bahamas Junkanoo Carnival, and we are here again having to defend the road fever parade,” Dean said in a statement.
“There is presently no statistical data to date that supports the claims of the Christian Council that Bahamas Carnival Road Fever Parade has caused any ill effects on any segment of Bahamian society since its inception.
“We the Bahamas Carnival band owners emphatically refute all those erroneous statements made by the Christian Council as they are merely unsubstantiated thoughts.
“They speak to revelers performing sexual acts throughout the streets of New Providence and of threats of sexual violence. It saddens the entire membership body of the Bahamas Carnival Band Owners Association to have read those bold untruths from a body that we hold in such high esteem.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Fernander “strongly condemned this open display of sexuality, nudity, open consumption of alcohol and indecency associated with this event”.
He said the mixture of the “near naked bodies” of men and women engaging in sexual contact with access to alcohol “has the potential to lead to sexual violence, rape and other violent confrontation”.
He added, “Simply put, we believe that Bahamas Carnival Road Fever is a vulgar, sexually charged event which many believe is a serious ticking time bomb waiting to explode into a dangerous series of circumstances.”
Dean said the costumes appear to be a major issue for the BCC.
“For members of the cloth to elude that a particular type of clothing worn by a female will incite sexual violence is perhaps the most alarming statement they made and should alarm us all. Statistics and research show that sexual assault is a hate crime and has nothing to do with the attire that a woman wears.
“For the past four years there have been no reports of any type of incident that the Christian Council speaks of.
“The Royal Bahamas Police Force (RBPF) is a partner for the fifth year with the [BCBOA] with road fever to ensure that the things that the Christian Council speaks of are not possible.
“We can boldly say that we have been incident free on those parades.
“The road fever takes on the form of a street festival with persons in costumes not unlike many street festivals around the world with food, drinks, costumes and music.
“It would appear to be a bit hypocritical that many street festivals form around the world are embraced by the same bodies that choose to bash one held in their country.
“The Christian Council regurgitates these same sentiments each year from the inception of Bahamas Carnival, and each year they have been proven wrong.”
The Bahamas Carnival Road Fever will take place on Saturday where various carnival bands will “play mas” through the streets of New Providence. Members from various bands will dress in costumes, which some critics have called “skimpy”, and dance to soca music.
Fernander said the council has expressed “serious concern” about carnival since its inception and has “strongly warned of the potential harm that we could be exposing our young people especially our young women to”.
When Bahamas Carnival was first launched in 2015, the BCC issued a similar statement, noting that the promotion of “scantily clad women” would only encourage “promiscuity, fornication, rape, incest and other sins of the flesh”.
Education: Vrije Universiteit Brussel (University of Brussels), MA in Mass Communications