UNC march in Arima calls for more protection for women, children

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Participants in the UNC Women’s Arm march in Arima on Saturday called for justice for women and children who are victims of abuse. – AYANNA KINSALE

The UNC Women’s Arm is calling on the Government to do more to protect women and children, highlighting cases of murdered women and reports of abuses at children’s homes.

UNC constituency coordinator for Diego Martin West Marsha Walker criticised the Government for not working faster on creating solutions for these issues and said, more must be done.

The Women’s Arm held a walkabout in Arima, on Saturday morning, to raise awareness of the need to protect women and children. The walk took place in Arima, a PNM constituency, from Herde’s Park, Mt Pleasant to the Arima Market. The group consisted of between ten to 15 people and though there were a few supporting comments from vendors and passers-by, most shoppers carried about their day as normal.

Walker said Arima was an important area for the march because many dead women have been found at Heights of Aripo, which is in that constituency. She wants more means of protection for the nation’s women.

“The pepper spray legislation isn’t here yet. We always hear promises but it never goes anywhere. Where are the CCTV cameras and police posts we (UNC) asked for? It’s not good enough.”

In Parliament on Friday, Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds revealed that pepper spray applications will be processed this month and said the legislation will be implemented in July. This delay was caused by the “temporary suspension of the operations of the Firearms Permit Unit of the TTPS,” he said.

Walker also directed her attention to children who have been reportedly abused in the state- and denominational-run homes highlighted in the Justice Judith Jones and Robert Sabga reports.

“There are 80-plus abusers – according to the recommendation of the Judith Jones report – who need to be immediately removed from those homes,” she said.

She said this report, released December last year, continues to be sidelined and claimed the abusers are still employed and live at the facilities. She then asked the media report publish any information that showed the number of alleged abusers in children’s homes was decreasing. When asked about the Sabga report, she said, that report was released 25 years ago and claimed the police hasn’t contacted Sabga.

She said, though, more attention needs to be placed on the Justice Jones report, and added the Sabga report reminded the public of the late zoo curator Hans Boos, known for his arrest in 1993 for possession of pornographic videotapes, pictures and magazines. And his arrest in 1996 for distributing and acting in child pornography. Boos died in 2020.

She said the UNC created five pieces of legislation after the release of the the Sabga report which were never implemented because the People’s Partnership administration did not win a second term.

Walker said the Prime Minister commissioned the Jones report and asked if it was to “mamaguy” the public.

She said the legal process to protect children was not being worked on fast enough, referring to the task force that was formed with 11 members headed by Jones, last year. The investigation started last July and the report was submitted to chairman of the Children’s Authority, Dr Carol Logie.

“All that time, our children are being abused because all that time, no one said, let’s suspend them with pay. For the very least, let them keep their pay but move away from the children.”

Walker said Dr Rowley “budgeted zero dollars to the Children’s Authority in 2016.” However, since 2016, $378 million was allocated to the authority,

And in the mid-year review, last month, Finance Minister Colm Imbert said the authority would receive $22.4 million out of $59.96 million allocated to the Office of the Prime Minister.