Sexualised boat names on government website
An investigation was launched by government officials yesterday after a notice for a public contract contained “sexualised” phrases such as “Give it 2 Her” and “Juicy Lick”.
The request for quotation was published on the procurement notices page of the government website and led to warnings from women’s rights campaigners that the phrases sent the wrong message to young people.
A document that accompanied the RFQ showed screenshots of the present database, where a list of fictitious boat names included Honey Wet, Warm, Wet&Juicy, Wet N Juicy, Give It 2 Her and Juicy Lick.
The RFQ was removed from the site after The Royal Gazette contacted the Government for comment yesterday.
The Ministry of Tourism and Transport apologised for the language, included in an RFQ to set up a web application for boats and moorings registrations.
A ministry spokesman said later: “The Ministry of Tourism and Transport and Department of Marine and Ports Services thank the public for bringing this matter to our attention and giving us the opportunity to remove the content before causing any further insult or harm as that was not the intent.
“The ministry can assure the public that all government officers endeavour to operate responsibly with the highest level of integrity and sensitivity to ensure all information accessible by the public is informative and conveyed in a professional manner.
“Unfortunately, in this instance, we fell short of our ideals.
He added that “an internal investigation was launched to determine how this lack of oversight occurred”.
The spokesman said: “Following completion of the investigation, all findings will be used to put in place the necessary controls to prevent a similar occurrence. Disciplinary action will also be considered.
“The Ministry of Tourism and Transport and Department of Marine and Ports Services again thanks the public for bringing this matter to our attention and offers our sincere apologies to all those offended by the content.”
Kendaree Burgess, a prominent figure in the business world, said before the document was removed that she was “disturbed on a number of levels” when she saw the RFQ.
Ms Burgess, who emphasised she was speaking in a personal capacity and not as Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer, added: “From a general business perspective it is obvious that the necessary managerial checks and balances on overseeing the prepublication materials seem to be missing.
“While it is common for boats to be referred to as females, overtly sexual references as examples in an RFQ should be avoided as they objectify women.
“The process should be no different if the vernacular referred to physically or mentally challenged persons or the members of the LGBTQ populations.
“This sends the wrong message to our young people and to any and every person reading the document.
“I strongly believe that the examples used do not represent the viewpoint of the ministry or, indeed, the Bermuda Government.”
Ms Burgess, who has championed for women’s rights and equality, especially in the workplace, added: “Perhaps the author believed it was funny or that such names were OK to use because they might actually exist.
“Ultimately, it shows a lack of judgment and oversight.
“Every day women fight an uphill battle for equality of pay, for acceptance as equals and for fair treatment and representation; this flies in the face of the efforts made by so many.”
Dany Pen, the founder of the Women’s ACT — action, change, today — group, said that it was “highly inappropriate to see such language of sexual objectification being used in an official government listing”.
She added: “By permitting such sexualised language of decorations and labelling of the boats, it encourages the mindset of having commodities for sexual pleasure.
“It is highly dangerous when this mindset is imposed on women and children in our society.”
Carolyn Thomas Ray, the cofounder of the International Day of the Girl event in Bermuda, said the document was “like someone’s idea of trying to be funny, like something out of Beavis and Butt-Head, but worse”.
She said after the RFQ was removed from the website: “The point is that this kind of hypersexualised language, especially in an official government document that was released, is inappropriate and reinforces the misplaced view that women and girls are commodities.
“I’m pleased that the ministry responsible is investigating and I would recommend further staff training, more generally, for best practice.”
The RFQ was issued last November with a deadline in early December.
A ministry spokesman said at the time: “Bermuda is scheduled to be audited by the International Maritime Organisation in December 2020.
“In an effort to comply with the IMO’s Triple I Code requirements for Safety of Life At Sea Convention, the new proposed data system will link directly into the Department of Marine and Ports Services’ search and rescue centre, providing up to date information on marine vessels registered in the system.
“This will enable faster response times for all marine search-and-rescue operations, and bring our systems in line with international standards.
“The system will also be more robust, offering the ability to manage increased demands during peak times.
“It will also provide an improved user interface, making it easier for the general public to navigate, particularly when making online payments.
“Internally, it will allow the department to be more efficient in how it manages customer accounts and government revenues.
“Ultimately, once implemented, the new system will support Bermuda’s efforts as we work towards receiving successful compliance with the IMO conventions.”
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