The absence of radio personality and entertainer Devon Matthews from the Carnival scene this year has not gone unnoticed.
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Foreign call alerts of rape in caregiver’s home
In the midst of a police investigation into the rape of a 29-year-old autistic woman, her saviour, who rescued her from a home where she was attacked, is also calling for her caregiver to be jailed for failing to report the incident.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Goodwill Industries of the West Indies, Barbara Alleyne, made the call yesterday after relating the story of how the woman, who has the mental capacity of a seven-year-old child, was raped by a man after she was left alone at the Arima home on February 29.
The caregiver then kept the incident secret until she was exposed. Alleyne also called on Government and those in authority to do their part to ensure that the disabled are properly protected and that perpetrators face the full brunt of the law.
It was reported that the caregiver is not registered and looks after disabled people “from time-to-time,” for which she is paid by the families. “This lady takes in people who can physically help themselves more or less but does not have the mental capacity to really relate,” Alleyne said.
Alleyne, who runs a school which caters to children with special needs, said she was horrified by the victim’s ordeal.
Alleyne said she got a text message from the victim's mother, who lives in England, informing her about the alleged rape. She said when she called the caregiver she denied knowledge of the incident and insisted no one come to the home.
Alleyne when she arrived in Arima that afternoon she parked a short distance away from the home because she did not want any confrontation. She then drove to the Arima Police Station where she was told to go to the Maloney station instead, as there was a special unit there to handle such matters. She then drove back to the caregiver’s home and parked a short distance away.
It was only after other people who also heard about the incident began calling the caregiver and telling her that “police coming” that she handed over the victim to Alleyne. But the victim was put in further distress after being threatened by the caregiver.
“When the victim was in the back seat of my car the woman (caregiver) told her in my presence, ‘If you say anything the police will lock you up, they would not come for me.’
“The poor woman, who had already gone through hell, now had more fear instilled in her,” Alleyne told the T&T Guardian. She said that on the advice of the police the victim was taken to the Arima Health Facility to be medically examined but because of victim's limited speech capability an interview with the police was challenging. Alleyne also knocked the District Medical Officer (DMO) for a lack of professionalism.
“The police don’t even know how to interview her. They brought a DMO to examine her... that can’t even be considered an examination,” Alleyne related.
The victim has now been placed in another home at Mt Lambert and is expected to undergo an HIV test today as ordered by the DMO. Saying the incident had left her “despondent and fed up,” Alleyne questioned the effectiveness of the law when it came to such victims.
“Through what kind of eyes are they looking with it? What kind of assistance would they give? They must revisit what they have for children with disabilities,” she said.
“They keep saying they have Children’s Authority and all of that and they have nothing to give you to deal with these problems.
“You say you have psychologists and psychiatrists and you don’t. You have psychiatrists over medicating children... you can't have little children walking around like zombies,” she added. She said far too often lip-service instead of action was meted out to society’s most vulnerable.
But Alleyne said her confidence was boosted after head of the Victim and Witness Support Unit, Margaret Sampson-Browne, got involved in the matter after being told of the incident by the T&T Guardian. Sampson-Browne assured the incident would be fully probed.
“Once the matter comes to us we will be addressing it with full force... in fact double force. Rape is rape no matter what,” Sampson-Browne said.
“I have investigated a matter where the girl was 17 and she was operating in the mind of an eight-year-old. There is a system where we were able to get the relevant specialist persons to come and give the evidence and were able to get a conviction based on that,” she added.