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Sanford says Attorney General’s reference to her as a ‘drumstick’ is racist, abusive and discriminatory, won’t rest until his resignation

Anette Sanford

Opposition presidential nominee Anette Sanford has finally spoken out, vehemently denouncing Attorney General Levi Peter’s remarks that referred to her as a “drumstick,” and has labelled these comments as “racist, abusive, and discriminatory on both moral and legal grounds.”

The incident unfolded following the election of Mrs. Slyvanie Burton as Dominica’s incoming president. On Wednesday, September 27, 2023, during a parliamentary session, Peter took the floor to criticise the opposition’s choice of Sanford, a former opposition senator, as their nominee for the presidential position.

“Understanding what we are dealing with, understanding the historic step, understanding the candidacy, a woman, a Kalinago first and the symbolism, apart from anything else, that is contained within that person, understanding that the person is vastly qualified in terms of what the constitution requires for your position, that the opposition would have at least said we have concerns, but we will support. But no, they chose to put up a drumstick,” he said.

“Mr. Speaker, that is really the height of idiocy,” the attorney general further declared. In response, Sanford, a nurse by profession, expressed her disgust with the level of discourse that is coming out of such an important decision-making process enshrined in our Constitution.

“As an indigenous woman, listening to the Attorney General, I wondered to myself, whether he’s even oriented to the context of the event, and more so, whether I had changed my indigenous Kalinago identity by some miracle,” she said,

“I felt lynched for accepting the nomination under which I have the full right to do so under the constitution of Dominica,” she added.

Throughout her political career, Sanford points out that she’s endured political jabs and ridicule, which she viewed as part of the political game. However, she states that Peter’s recent comments crossed a dangerous boundary, becoming a brutal assault on her identity, ambition, and gender.

Sanford called for an end to the abuse faced by women, parliamentarians, and aspiring leaders who represent different political persuasions within the country. She highlighted the administration’s apparent strategy of appointing individuals to elected positions without following due process, a tactic that threatened the very pillars of democracy and the constitution.

“The time for order in Dominica is now. Let us join our efforts now, to stop characters who have evil intent to set a bad precedent to up and emerging young leaders. Those of us who know better, should do better,” she asserted.
Recalling the government’s recent enforcement of laws against violence towards women, Sanford pointed out the irony that Peter, as the Attorney General, would have advised on these laws. Therefore she states that “he should not be allowed to break it and abuse a Kalinago woman presidential nominee in Parliament, just because she’s perceived to be of a different political persuasion.”

In a bold move, Sanford called upon the Minister of Gender Affairs and the Minister of Kalinago Affairs to condemn the Attorney Genera’s words and advocate for his resignation. She made it clear that she and her supporters would not rest until Peters had stepped down, paving the way for a new Attorney General who would respect the constitution and the rights of women.

Amidst the mounting anger and the growing chorus of public demands for either an apology or resignation of the AG, which have already been voiced by various individuals and organizations including the Dominica Nurses Association (DNA), the Dominica National Council of Women (DNCW), and President of the United Workers Party, Lennox Linton- all of which were previously reported by Dominica News Online (DNO)- social and cultural activist Delia Cuffy Weekes has now joined the collective outcry. She emphasizes that while the Attorney General serves as the government’s main legal advisor, this role does not grant him/her the authority to act as judge, jury, or, most importantly, as a God.

“The position is one that should command great respect but when you put a pig in a palace, even with lipstick and nail polish, it still remains a pig!” she declared.

Weekes strongly condemned the Attorney General’s attempt to impose the government’s choice on the people while disregarding Dominicans’ fundamental rights to freedom of choice and freedom of association, as protected by the Constitution.

“The AG shows how classless and clueless he is by referring to a female presidential nominee as a “drumstick ” and even prefaces this proclamation by saying that he would use stronger terms if he was in a different setting,” she stated,

She continued, “Is he aware that by referring to the female as “drumstick” he has stripped a human being of her humanity and now equates her with “meat”? Does he also know that one of the meanings for “drumstick” in the urban dictionary is “A term used to describe the female wingman. Typically brought out to bars and clubs to prevent social
awkwardness by providing entertainment for an interested party’s wingman. The drumstick is not meant to outshine the primary party.”

Weekes further asserted that such derogatory language demonstrates a lack of respect for women, despite the fact that the Attorney General himself is a product of a woman and has had a wife at one point in his life. She also raised concerns over the failure of the Speaker of the House of Assembly, whose role is to maintain order during parliamentary proceedings, to address the Attorney General’s offensive remarks as well as the other women in the House seemingly who she says “accepted the slightly veiled insult to another woman, because it was not directed at them.”

Weekes firmly placed the Attorney General on notice, asserting that the women of Dominica will not take this insult lightly. She too called for a public apology to the female nominee whose reputation was tarnished by the Attorney General’s remarks and insists that his behavior in the House of Assembly warrants his resignation from his position. According to Weekes, his actions have undermined the integrity of the office and the trust placed in him to provide sound legal advice to the government.