St Vincent: Rape victim shamed live on radio — by government spokesman

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The Caribbean nation of St. Vincent has a well-documented problem with gender violence. The government disagrees, as Jennifer Yang of Toronto’s Star reports.

Keturah Cupid has been raped, beaten and repeatedly abused in her home country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a Caribbean nation suffering a “cultural epidemic” of violence against girls and women, according to a recent human rights report presented to the United Nations.

But now, she has also been publicly shamed and had private information announced on the radio — by a communications official for the prime minister’s office.

“She was abused and she get raped and all kind of thing. Well, when you check out the facts, she don’t have her story right,” Elson Crick, a communications consultant for the Vincentian government, can be heard saying on an audio recording of his radio program, which was shared with the Star.

“The woman left here and went to Canada. She left and let me get the information for you,” Crick continued. He then announced her birth year, new legal name, passport number — even the flight number of her trip home after being deported from Canada in 2011.

Cupid first shared her story of rape and abuse to the Star shortly after being denied refugee status by Canada’s immigration and refugee board. While board officials agreedthe veracity of her story was “not in doubt,” they concluded that St. Vincent offered “adequate state protection” for victims of domestic abuse.

But immigration lawyers have criticized the refugee board for ignoring evidence that suggests otherwise. A 2014 report by human rights researchers in Canada and St. Vincent found that the Vincentian government fails to adequately support victims of gender-based violence, whose perpetrators enjoy a “culture of impunity.”

Cupid, who has now legally changed her name, shared her story again on March 23 at a “Conversation with Women” event hosted by St. Vincent’s opposition party, the New Democratic Party. “I am not here to change anyone, your minds, make you understand, not even make you to like me,” she told the audience in a stirring speech. “My intention is to reach the many women and children who have been abused, raped and molested daily. It’s a problem in our country.”

Days later, Crick took to the airwaves and accused Cupid of fabricating her story.

Opposition party officials have since released statementsdenouncing Crick’s comments and calling for him to resign.

Through his words, Crick not only re-victimized Cupid, he “gave the entire nation a licence to do so,” said Helena Edwards, president of a non-profit organization Save Our Sisters, who wrote an opinion piece for a local newspaper.

“You attempted and may have succeeded in silencing other women who are continuously raped,” she wrote. “Women can only reclaim their freedom from rape by speaking out against it.”

For the original report go to www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/04/05/rape-victim-shamed-live-on-radio-by-government-official.html

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