The Barbados Christian Council (BXC) is not about to cast the first stone at Natalie Natlee Harewood, the notorious prostitute who announced last week her intention to contest the upcoming general election as an independent.
Harewood, who will run in The City, will also not be verbally “stoned” by politician and church leader David Durant, the chairman of Restoration Ministries International Network of Covenant Churches.
Both men of the cloth have defended Harewood’s right as a Barbadian to challenge for a parliamentary seat, with BXC Chairman Canon Noel Burke saying the mother-of-three was free to enter the race if she felt she had something to offer, and it was up to voters to decide.
“Persons who feel they can make a contribution offer themselves to office. And the young lady, as a citizen of Barbados, can feel free to offer herself if she is of the view that she has a contribution to make, if she is of the view that her lifestyle, or former lifestyle as it were, has given her certain experiences that she would like to steer persons from. If she is of the view that she can make that kind of contribution, well then certainly she has every right as a citizen of this fair land to offer herself,” Burke told Barbados TODAY.
Harewood’s announcement has generated passionate responses from both those who support and oppose her planned bid for The City, which recorded voter turnout of 56.54 per cent in the 2013 general election, with 3,925 of the 6,942 registered voters casting ballots.
Questions have been raised about morals, and whether an unabashed prostitute should be allowed to seek a place among honourable men and women in Parliament.
Burke, who indicated that the church had not fully discussed the issue, said he expected the matter to “raise a number of eyebrows”, but he was adamant the 36-year-old Harewood had every right to run.
“As a citizen of Barbados she can feel free to offer herself and place herself before the public and say, ‘here I am quite prepared to make whatever sacrifices necessary and offer myself as a Member of Parliament and these are my ideas’, and if she finds favour among the electorate they will vote for her. If she does not find favour among the electorate then she would not be elected. But certainly, we cannot deny her the right as a citizen of Barbados to offer herself for politics,” he stressed.
Like the BXC head, Durant, who served as a Government senator in the Upper Chamber in the last parliamentary cycle, said he too saw nothing wrong with Harewood running for public office, despite her profession.
“I think that in a democracy such as ours every citizen has a right to, if they want to enter the political arena, to throw their hat in the ring, and the lady in question you say want to enter the ring. So I have no problem with that because it is a democratic right,” he told Barbados TODAY, adding that it was up to the voters to determine whether or not she deserved their support.
“Anyone, I believe, can throw their hat in, and share what they plan to do, share their vision, share how they will strategically approach the fulfilling of that vision for the land, the constituency, for whatever area they want to represent, set goals and lay out some principles and guidelines that they want to follow and deliver a manifesto and the people then have the option to vote for who they would like to represent them,” he explained.
In what her campaign manager Charlie Spice Lewis said was a strategic move, Harewood has since announced she would quit prostitution to pursue her political ambition.
“Hi my Instagram and Facebook friends, I am here to announce that I will be quitting my profession as a prostitute to pursue my political ambition in becoming the next parliamentary representative for the City of Bridgetown,” she said in a post on social media.
Harewood’s defence extends all the way to the island’s top legal office, with Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite insisting “she is not breaking any laws in the country” by throwing her hat into the political ring.
In fact, Brathwaite said the debate surrounding the sex worker’s moral qualification was “much ado about nothing”.
“Like every citizen she is entitled, [and] unless the laws prohibit her from entering the elective politics she is entitled to run. I don’t understand why people should be concerned about her running, on either side of the divide,” he told Barbados TODAY.
“As for her self-professed profession . . . maybe it is for us as a country to take a serious look at the women who hang out at the Garrison for many years and who have even been there before I was born, and try to see how we can protect them,” he added.