As more details come to light regarding the circumstances relating to an audio recording of what appears to be the very violent abuse and battery of a female victim here, ANN was reliably informed that the alleged abuser was in police custody and was subsequently released.

A well placed police source said “the girl went to the police station in Colonaire and made a report and they gave her a medical form to go to the doctor and she didn’t go to the doctor. She went to Georgetown Police Station and tell them she does not wish to proceed with the matter and they discharged the both of them.” Since the victim’s refusal to press charges was made public several deeper social truths have again been brought to the fore.

One such reality is the judicial impotence that prevents the State from prosecuting when what would otherwise be considered legally admissible evidence is available; even without a deposition or oral evidence from a virtual complainant.

Before it gets to prosecutorial procedures though, civil society advocate Dr. Ashley John is of the view that certain fundamental steps need to be taken. “When a case like this pops up where there is clear evidence that a woman has been brutalized especially to this extent,

I don’t think it should be left up to the woman especially with an incident that has happened within two, three days – within two days actually, to be rushed into making a decision on prosecution without any State support,” said Dr. John who is also the Executive Chair of local non-profit Constructive Solutions Inc. Explaining further he said “I’m talking about psychological support.

The law states that the first step is to protect the victim, right? Like where there is a child involved and so on, provide that social assistance to these people. That is the first step that should have been taken and then when she has been seen by a psychologist or even a counsellor or so – then they would determine if she’s in the frame of mind to even deal with this question of prosecution.” John cautioned that persons should understand the economic conditions that tend to drive some victims’ decision making processes.

He said “a lot of these women are facing financial difficulties and they believe psychologically that to take a step against domestic violence abusers would be to lose an income.”

He sought to advise the local authorities to embark on awareness campaigns that would “sensitize the community about how to deal with these matters; because I don’t think a lot of people in St. Vincent and the Grenadines are aware of how these matters should be dealt with.” Also a therapeutic counsellor, John empathized with the victim whose audio recordings captured both the terrible sounds of blows being inflicted and her screams as she unsuccessfully tried to evade her abuser. “Just listening to the recording drives thrills through me and I’m a man.

I could just imagine the trauma, the level of trauma that this young lady has been faced with… I read in the report that she was spoken to by other police, which is ok.
But they need to bring social workers and psychologists on board when they are dealing with these matters up front… the case worker should actually be the person to see the victim before even the police deals with statements and so on.” Cognizant of the “possibility that the young lady would not be thinking rationally” so soon after an abusive episode Dr. John advocated haste in pushing through additional amendments to the existing domestic violence act.

This he believes would help to prevent domestic abusers from continuously going unpunished for the violence they inflict on their victims; particularly, when such victims are unwilling or unable to instigate legal proceedings. “There needs to be mandatory persecution by the State, based on evidence so that a message can be sent, strongly, to deter other persons.

I’m not saying that it’s the State responsibility alone but there’s a lot of work to be done from the community level, from the national level also. And until this work is done I believe that these matters would keep spiralling and spiralling and spiralling because it’s almost like I could get away with it too,” John concluded. Dr. John accused the local authorities of being lax in their approach to enforcing the Domestic Violence Act. He further encouraged Vincentians against “victim shaming” the young lady “because she might have at this point refused to prosecute. If the support systems were in place I believe a different thing could have been done.” He alluded to some “treatment that [a female client of his] is getting right now, even as [a separate domestic abuse] matter is before the court.” While claiming to “understand clearly why no woman would never want to, ever want to speak out against these matters in St. Vincent,” he said, “I’m not one to sit here and victim shame or blame her. This young lady has to be going through a very traumatic experience and she needs to be seen by a psychologist or a counsellor as a matter of urgency.”

Unconfirmed reports are that the victim, identified on the recording as Anesia, has since been flown to a hospital in Trinidad.

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