Another rape vic­tim cries out for jus­tice!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

IToni Ni­cholas n an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled “The Mak­ing of Shan­ty­town’ lo­cal writer An­der­son Reynolds paints a pic­ture of the Vieux Fort com­mu­nity that the Kenny An­thony ad­min­is­tra­tion had re­named Bruceville (af­ter Bruce Wil­liams) but is still pop­u­larly known as Shan­ty­town. Ac­cord­ing to Reynolds, the com­mu­nity started with one dwelling that went up shortly af­ter Hur­ri­cane Allen. Ahead of that, of course, were the 1979 gen­eral elec­tions when the St. Lu­cia Labour Party had a land­slide vic­tory af­ter a 15year drought. Bruce Wil­liams be­came the SLP’s par­lia­men­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tive for Vieux Fort, in­clu­sive of Shan­ty­town.

Daddy Bruce, as he was af­fec­tion­ately known, pro­posed a hous­ing scheme for Shan­ty­town with the as­sis­tance of Salas, the Venezue­lan Con­struc­tion Com­pany that was es­tab­lish­ing a busi­ness base in Vieux Fort at the time. They set aside twenty or more pre­fab houses at Daddy Bruce’s re­quest.

“Un­for­tu­nately for wouldbe Shan­ty­town res­i­dents, history waits for no pro­ject,” An­der­son writes. Six months af­ter the 1979 gen­eral elec­tions the Labour Party gov­ern­ment found it­self in a power strug­gle that had re­sulted in Castries be­ing re­named, if for a time, Ply­wood City. Plans for Shan­ty­town were soon for­got­ten. With the re­turn to of­fice of the UWP in 1982, the Shan­ty­town pro­ject was shelved and the area re­con­sid­ered as the site for a new ho­tel.

In the mean­time, politi­cians played po­lit­i­cal football with Shan­ty­town. Its squalid con­di­tions grew worse, even as its pop­u­la­tion of squat­ters in­creased, aided and abet­ted by in­di­vid­u­als with po­lit­i­cal as­pi­ra­tions be­yond their tal­ents. Shan­ty­town quickly be­came an open la­trine, a hide­out from the po­lice, a mar­ket for sex.

Fast for­ward to 2015: Lit­tle in Shan­ty­town has changed for the bet­ter, de­spite that for the last 20 years the area’s par­lia­men­tary rep­re­sen­ta­tive has been the na­tion’s prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony. Save for a “free­ness” (a con­crete public bath and toi­let fa­cil­ity and a four-lane prom­e­nade cour­tesy the Tai­wanese that leads straight into a swine­in­fested garbage dump) Shan­ty­town the new is not all that dif­fer­ent from Shan­ty­town be­fore Kenny An­thony’s ar­rival. Weekly com­mu­nity sto­ries about young men run­ning into trou­ble with the law for drugs, about incest and teenage preg­nan­cies are com­mon­place. The STAR has con­firmed at least one re­port of a 14-year-old who ear­lier this year be­came a mother—for res­i­dents, not at all un­usual.

The re­cent rape of a 16-year-old Shan­ty­town girl may have shocked one or two school prin­ci­pals but for mem­bers of the com­mu­nity it’s busi­ness as usual. This week I vis­ited the girl’s fam­ily. As we talked about the rape in­ci­dent, the vic­tim stared blankly at me from her wooden perch. Her aunt supplied the fol­low­ing ac­count: “On Sun­day night I was home when, around eleven, her mother came call­ing me to say her daugh­ter was miss­ing. I found that strange since she was not in the habit of go­ing out at night. So we went search­ing ev­ery­where in the area and when we could not find her we went to the po­lice sta­tion to make a re­port. By then it was about one in the morn­ing. When we got back to Shan­ty­town we found her near the back of the house. That’s when she told us what had hap­pened to her.”

What had hap­pened, ac­cord­ing to the 16-year-old: a young man with whom she is fa­mil­iar came to the house and of­fered her a drink. She ac­cepted and soon af­ter­ward felt very drowsy. She was car­ried away to the back of Shan­ty­town, near the beach area, where she was re­peat­edly raped by at least four men, all known to her. She screamed but some­one in the area was play­ing mu­sic too loud to per­mit her screams to be heard.

Her mother told me that on the night of the in­ci­dent she her­self had left home to visit a friend “down the road.”

When the vic­tim was found, ac­cord­ing to rel­a­tives, she ap­peared shaken. They took her to St. Jude’s af­ter re­port­ing to the po­lice. On Mon­day three men were held for ques­tion­ing but, hardly sur­pris­ing, have since been re­leased. Rel­a­tives now fear that noth­ing the 16-year-old, who has a speech im­ped­i­ment, says will be taken se­ri­ously.

Her aunt elab­o­rated: “When she was at school her teach­ers found that she was a lit­tle slow and rec­om­mended she be trans­ferred to a spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion school. But her mother could not af­ford it. She never re­ceived any spe­cial at­ten­tion or an ed­u­ca­tion. She is a bit slow when she speaks but we do un­der­stand her.”

The vic­tim spends most of her time at home. Some­times she does usual er­rands for her fam­ily in the com­mu­nity but since the al­leged in­ci­dent this too has proven dif­fi­cult.

“I sent her to get a top-up for me on Wed­nes­day,” her aunt told me, “and she came back, say­ing that she had bumped into one of the boys [one of her al­leged rapists] and his friend. They both started taunt­ing her, call­ing her ‘deck-deck’. She said one of the boys threat­ened to harm her and another 13-yearold fe­male rel­a­tive if they do not keep quiet about the in­ci­dent.”

On Mon­day, as res­i­dents ex­pressed their frus­tra­tions, one of the girl’s rel­a­tives was punched in the face for point­ing out one of the young men who was al­legedly in­volved in the rape.

The fam­ily now fears an all­out war is im­mi­nent if the po­lice do not in­ves­ti­gate the al­leged rape and other re­lated in­ci­dents. “We feel that we are be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against by not only the politi­cians but also by the po­lice who hardly ever re­spond when we call on them,” a male rel­a­tive said. “But I can as­sure you that things will get ugly if noth­ing is done about this rape.”

As I made my way out of the gal­va­nized fenced yard onto the di­lap­i­dated road out­side, I won­dered if things could get uglier than they al­ready are in the com­mu­nity known as Shan­ty­town.

A vic­tim of rape points to the area where four men bru­tally raped her last

Sun­day night.

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