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OUR CARIBBEAN: Barbadians in self-criticism on lifestyles

Rickey Singh

OUR CARIBBEAN: Barbadians in self-criticism on lifestyles

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As Barbados prepares to mark its 45th anniversary of political independence next Wednesday, there have been emerging some rather stirring, even controversial, statements concerning moral uprightness, homosexuality, spirituality, as well as about the age of sexual consent for teenagers and visitations to doctors – the latter without prior parental approval.
The growing concerns seem to point to a nation engaged in critical self-examination about lifestyles and declining social mores that could further weaken the fabric of this Caribbean Community state long reputed for its commitment to established Christian values and family life.
In the quite interesting mix is the 23-year-old world-famous celebrity Rihanna, whose credential as an official roving ambassador of her native Barbados has been coming under increasing criticisms for the “bad messages” she keeps sending – particularly to youth – with her gyrating, sexual performances in the marketing of her albums.
Last Sunday, a leading Barbadian pastor, Bishop Dr Marlon Husbands, speaking at a service to launch the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) Independence anniversary celebrations, accused Rihanna of “always doing foolishness” and being “unworthy” of being an ambassador of this nation.
The bishop also decried “the level of indiscipline, immorality and homosexuality in the country”, according Monday’s DAILY NATION.  
My immediate family members are aware that I do not consider Rihanna a role model for the youth of this Caribbean region. I hope my own grandchildren would see the serious flaws of a beautiful and wealthy pop star who is proud to sing, rather mockingly, “good girl gone bad”.
A conflict has now also arisen over the age of sexual consent by teenage girls and when they should be able to make visits to doctors without prior permission by parents or guardians.
While still struggling to effectively cope with lingering controversies over management of the country’s health sector and the state-run Queen Elizabeth Hospital in particular, Minister of Health Donville Inniss has chosen to become actively involved in promoting arrangements for teenagers to make visits to doctors and seek medical care without permission of parents. He said he would discuss the issue with the Attorney General and the Minister of Family, Youth, Culture and Sports, among others.
However, within three days of Inniss’ stated position, president of the National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations (NCPTA), Rhonda Blackman, was advocating that the age of sexual consent be raised to 18. This should also be made applicable, she feels, to the right to visit doctors for medical care without permission of parents/guardians.
And so the debates continue on a range of sensitive lifestyle issues as Barbados faces up to its varied social, cultural and economic problems and challenges.

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