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Feathered headdresses reflect the bright sun, flamboyant floats reach for the sky, and a blur of vibrant colors dance through the streets of Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad and Tobago, as Carnival takes over. The festival marks the beginning of Lent and is a staple of Trinidadian culture, filled with “irresistible rhythms and infectious melodies of soca” music.

The gleeful celebration took a dark turn last year when Japanese pannist Asami Nagasaki was found strangled in her costume the day after Carnival ended. The high profile rape and murder drew international attention to the dark underbelly of Carnival, where sexism, violence, and victim blaming are often actively ignored.

The response of Tim Keene, the Mayor of Port of Spain at the time, only further highlighted the incident. The former mayor blamed the revealing Carnival costume Nagasaki wore, implying that if she wanted to avoid harassment she should not have dressed in costume. In a press conference, Keene stated that “it’s a matter of if she was still in her costume.” Every step of the way Mr. Keene blamed the young woman for her own rape and murder without any mention of condolences for her family or condemnation of her killer. His reaction was nothing short of disgusting, especially in a culture where beautiful beaded costumes like Nagasaki’s are encouraged. Some women have even reported harassment on the streets for not wearing them during Carnival.

Mr. Keene did not go unchallenged. The women of Trinidad and Tobago successfully called for Keene’s resignation, beginning a movement known as “Let She Alone.” The movement’s name was inspired by a song written by Calypso Rose “featur[ing] a woman trying to party in the streets without interference from men.” The campaign calls for better protection of women’s rights year round, specifically targeting street harassment during Carnival, body-shaming, and the stigma against women who say no.

Many during Carnival believe that it is normal for “men [to] grab women by the waist and force them to dance,” even if the women initially reject their invitation. This is intolerable. Every human should have complete control over their own body and should have the right to attend a festival without fear of sexual harassment.