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Coudray breaks silence on mayor’s spat with girlfriend
Minister of Gender Affairs Marlene Coudray has broken her silence on the public spat involving San Fernando Mayor Dr Navi Muradali and his girlfriend, saying any allegation of domestic violence should be investigated by the police. Speaking to reporters after a training and sensitisation workshop on the Children’s Act, Coudray condemned all forms of violence, particularly against women and children.
“As a mother who lost her daughter, I condemn violence against women in the strongest possible way, and my personal view is there must be zero tolerance against the abuse of women,” Coudray said. Her daughter Michelle Coudray-Greaves was kidnapped and murdered in Jamaica last June,
Asked whether she believed people holding high office often got away with these types of acts, Coudray responded: “Well, it appears so and mainly because all sorts of incentives are given. However, I do not want to make that wholesale statement that they get away. You tend to find that once the perpetrator is in high office, people try to persuade you not to do the correct thing and report it.”
Coudray said women’s groups must be vigilant about offering protection, support and assistance to victims of domestic violence.
“Domestic violence is a criminal offence. It is unfortunate that you hear excuses rather than an attempt to deal with the problem. If somebody commits abuse in a public place, that tells us it is bad enough; but when a public official is accused of committing this offence in a public place, it is a criminal act. It also tells you there might be a history or a habit of it and it needs to be seriously addressed,” Coudray said.
Coudray, who was Muradali’s predecessor as mayor of San Fernando, added that the matter must also be investigated by the Congress of the People, the party she resigned from last year. “I trust that his party will deal with this in the manner it ought to be dealt with and I’m saying it has to be dealt with quickly, in a timely manner and very comprehensively.”
Asked how she thought it should be dealt with, Coudray said: “There are three dimensions to the issue. There are the legal, political and social dimensions. From a legal perspective, is a criminal offence and I think it is for the police to act.”
She said as a deputy political leader of the UNC, she planned to comment at the appropriate time. Coudray said agents of the State had offered counselling to both parties.
Asked whether Muradali should step down as mayor while the matter was being investigated, Coudray said: “I think that is a matter for his party, which must deal with that issue.” Muradali, in a statement two weeks ago, confirmed that he was involved in a heated argument with his girlfriend on December 21 at Gulf City Mall in la Romaine but denied that any physical harm was done to either party.
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