The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not represent the opinions or editorial position of I-Witness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].
A personal response from Helena R. Edwards, a victim of domestic violence and attempted rape, to Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’ Statement Regarding Elson Crick in The Searchlight newspaper
According to an article published Searchlight newspaper dated April 3, 2015, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has dismissed as petty politics by the opposing political party, the NDP, calls for the resignation of his Communication Director, Mr. Elson Crick, who attacked Kate Kelly on Star FM and released her personal information.
According to the newspaper, the Prime Minister stated that Mr. Crick was addressing Ms. Kelly’s deception and he further asked if Mr. Crick made false statements? Concerning the release of Kate’s personal information, the Prime Minister said that Kate should take the matter to court, but in some cases the public good supersede a citizen’s privacy.
In the article, Mr. Crick also defends his attack on Kate as being deserving because she raised the issue of rape in the public on a platform of the NDP. According to a quotation in the paper attributed to Mr. Crick, he feels that Kate raising the issue of rape on an NDP stage in public is a direct assault on the Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, and the ULP. Therefore, his attack on Kate was somehow justified.
I find both the Prime Minister, Dr. Gonsalves and Mr. Crick’s statements troubling and alarming for several reasons. Let us say that Mr. Crick was addressing Kate Kelly’s alleged deception (by changing her name and attempting to re-enter Canada) as the Prime Minister said. Does this alleged deception negate her claims that she was sexually and physically abused? Let us go further and supposed that this alleged deception by Kate does indeed negate her story of sexual abuse and physical abuse, does this negate all of the other cases of sexual and physical abuse in St. Vincent and the Grenadines?
According to the newspaper, Dr. Gonsalves simply dismissed the call for Mr. Crick to resign as “petty politics” by the NDP. He compares Mr. Crick’s behavior to other infractions like Senator Vynette Frederick’s alleged perjury and stated that there was no resignation calls for her to resign when she allegedly committed her infraction.
This attempt by the Prime Minister to disregard the seriousness of violence against women and to acknowledge how Mr. Crick’s behavior may have hampered women coming forward to tell their stories is extremely troubling and insensitive. Mr. Crick essentially said that unless a woman has never sinned, she cannot publicly make claims of being raped without expecting to be shamed and ridiculed in public.
The Prime Minister in his defense of Mr. Crick has sanctioned Mr. Crick’s attitude towards women who are being violently raped and killed. I find this attitude coming from the administration extremely troubling. I am sure Sandra Browne who was raped and murdered did not have “clean hands” in the sense that she was not sinless. There is no human alive who has never sinned. If the criterion for a woman to tell her story of rape and domestic violence in public is that she must be sinless, what woman qualifies to do so? I am certainly not qualified to tell of my story of attempted rape and domestic violence because I have not been without sin in my entire life.
It is unfortunate also that the Prime Minister simply disregards the serious issue of violence against women in SVG as “petty politics” by the NDP. The fact that the NDP raised the issue to the forefront can be deemed political. However, there is absolutely nothing “petty” about women and children being raped, abused and killed in the country. Is the Prime Minister prepared to tell the relatives of Sandra Browne that her torturous murder was “petty?” Could this be the reason that the rapist/murderer has not yet been captured?
Laws and policies to remedy the situation are made by politicians. The enforcement of those laws is done by those who lead the country. Therefore, the NDP or any other political party has excellent standing in pushing the issue forward for change. Since 2007, when the United Nations declared the country as being number three in the world for rapes, we have not seen any visible efforts to reduce these crimes. Dr. Gonsalves has not publicly addressed this very serious issue and given voice to it. Therefore, it was just and proper that Mr. Arnhim Eustace gave women a platform through Kate.
It is very unfortunate that Mr. Crick would view women speaking out against rape as an attack on the Prime Minister and on ULP! Is he saying that the Prime Minister and the ULP are responsible for rapes and violence against women in the country? The fact that Mr. Crick holds this belief is indeed very troubling. It sanctions vicious and malicious attacks on victims who come forward to tell their stories under the guise that he his defending the Prime Minister and his political party. This issue should transcend all political parties within the country because violence against women is not a respecter of political party. Women in all parties are violated.
Helena R. Edwards
Mount Vernon, New York
The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].