Whether Guyana should boycott the Miss World pageant to protest Nigeriaís stoning sentence of a mother over adultery What the People Say about...
By Andre Haynes
Stabroek News
September 16, 2002

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This yearís Miss World beauty pageant is to be held in Nigeria in November. Some countries are reported to be boycotting the pageant in protest against the death by stoning sentence passed on a nursing mother, Amina Lawal, for adultery.
Sentences of this kind have been handed down by Muslim courts in accordance with strict Islamic law in the states of the predominantly Muslim northern Nigeria.
This week, we asked the man\woman-in-the-street for their thoughts on whether Guyana should boycott the pageant. These were their reactions:

Julie-Ann Fung - student: `No. If Odessa [Phillips] has no problem, it should not bother her. She should just go, do what she has to do - she has to carry a strong mind and be positive - and come back. I think that someone should try to change the law, they should do something to protest it, but donít take her out of the pageant. It wouldnít matter if everybody just drops out and there isnít a pageant. They wouldnít care whether it goes on or not. And at least she would have a better chance of winning if a lot of countries think about coming out. It increases her chances.í

Andrew Koo - machinist: ĎNo, I donít think we should withdraw. There are a lot of beautiful women in Guyana. They should get a chance to go out there for the world to see what they can do. I think our delegate should go there and represent her country. She wouldnít be supporting that law if she goes, she would be there to represent herself as a Guyanese, the people of Guyana and her country. The pageant is a chance for her and the young women who are looking at her and thinking that they could one day do the same thing. Frankly, I think the law sucks and it should be changed. Adultery could come from a lot of things and I donít think a woman should be stoned to death for it. But the pageant has nothing to do with that law. I donít think we should encourage our representative to come out. She isnít going to live over there. Suppose she goes on to win it. She should go ahead and I would support her.í

Latoya Smith - student: ĎI think Guyana should pull out because I donít believe itís right for them to stone women to death. We should not be involved in something like that; other countries have pulled out. Itís just not right. In the Bible, they were going to stone a woman to death and Jesus asked the person who had never sinned to throw the first stone. Nobody is perfect. And it is not right. It is a big opportunity for her [Odessa Phillips], but if she goes up for it, she will be supporting what goes on there. She is a woman. But even if she wins, I donít think she would feel good about it. What would she really win? I donít think she should go through with it.í

Dillon Carew - boxer: ĎIf thatís the system there, itís up to her [Odessa Phillips] whether she wants to go ahead or not. She might not go but other countries will... and it would be keeping herself from an opportunity. It will be a wasted opportunity if she decides not to go. And you could also look at it this way: if a majority of countries go and participate, what we would be doing would be nothing. We would be doing nothing.í

Rogel Ogle - private sector employee: ĎI think that is very harsh treatment of the women in Nigeria. And it would be good if Guyana could show our support for them by withdrawing in protest against that law. But itís a good and bad thing.
The pageant could bring recognition to Guyana, especially if our delegate does well, which Guyana needs. Guyana is a small country and it would not really have an impact if we withdrew. But if the larger countries boycott the pageant it would send a message to them in Nigeria and around the world. But I am not against our participation because we will benefit from it.í

Verna Rasul - teller: ĎIf there is a law like that, the pageant should not even be held there. Yes, I think Guyana should boycott it. I donít think women should even be sent there if there is a law like that. Nothing is wrong with the pageant or her representing the country. The problem is the place, Nigeria. And I think if countries boycott the pageant it will force the Nigerian Government to analyse that aspect of the law. Thatís why Guyana should boycott it.í

Donston Wilson - teacher\student: ĎOf course I donít see a problem with her participating. I think Guyana should participate. Donít bother with the other countries who are pulling out. We have an economic problem and participating could put Guyana back on the map. We could attract a lot of tourism. The law is for that country and if other countries are taking part then why should Guyana come out. And I think that persons living within the country will have a chance to demonstrate against the law because of the pageant, which will attract a lot of international attention. Taking part in the pageant, we will have somebody there who will display Guyana and all that we have to offer. We could make a move on tourism in the Caribbean.í

Aneka Grimmond - accounts clerk: ĎIf the law does not affect the pageant then I donít see the reason why she [Odessa Phillips] should not go. The pageant has nothing to do with the law. But only if it would have any impact on changing that law, I think we should withdraw to show we are against the wrongdoing. If by pulling out of the pageant we will have an impact on that policy, then I think we should. Although, the law is set. Nobody can change the law. And if by protesting we have no effect on their policy, we should go right ahead and enter. It would be an opportunity to market the country and for us to be recognised more.í

Shellon Albert - housewife: `She should go to the pageant and be optimistic. Their laws are theirs and our laws are ours. We are not going there in support of or to criticise their laws, we are going there to be represented. I donít think withdrawing from the pageant will be a way of protesting that law. In my opinion the law is not right, but I canít go over there and tell them what to do. Likewise they canít come over here and tell us about Guyana. But if Odessa Phillips withdraws from the pageant and everybody else pulls out, maybe they will rethink or change the law in that aspect. We should pull out. Odessa is a woman, she is a woman and what they are doing is not right... and withdrawing would be a way to solve that problem.í

Abigail Jones - self-employed: `I donít believe Guyana should pull out. Itís nice that young women can have the opportunity to take part in these things. They should. Itís nice. We could have the pageant here. Itís a great opportunity for young women like myself. We should go ahead.í