The National Organisation for Women (NOW) is hailing as a victory for Caribbean women the dismissal of charges against ex-model Yugge Farrell who was accused of using insulting language against the daughter-in-law of Vincentian Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
According to NOW spokeswoman Marsha Hinds, who was among a group protesting Gonsalves’ visit to the University of the West Indies at Cave Hill back in February over Farrell’s case, the development was credited to female solidarity.
“I think that the dismissal of the case is a clear indication to all of us as Caribbean women that there is power in our voices and that evil is happier thriving in darkness than it is in light. I feel that if this had not gotten some of the publicity it had gotten, the outcome could have potentially been very different,” said Hinds.
“This is an example of what we as women can do and need to do to continue to ensure that we live in a safe society in small Caribbean countries.”
The case has triggered region-wide outrage at the legal and political establishment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, especially after Farrell’s claim that she was in a long-time affair with Gonsalves’ son – finance minister Camillo Gonsalves. The younger Gonsalves has never responded publicly to the claim while his father, in a Barbados TODAY interview back in February urged people within the region to get all of the facts before coming to conclusions on a sensitive issue.
On January 5, Farrell pleaded not guilty to the charge of using insulting language to Camillo Gonsalves’s wife, Karen Duncan-Gonsalves. Prosecutors immediately asked the court to send the 23-year-old former model for psychiatric evaluation.
Magistrate Bertie Pompey granted the application despite strong protest by Farrell’s attorney, Grant Connell, who noted that the prosecution had offered no reasons for the request. This prompted Barbadian attorney-at-law Andrew Pilgrim to fly to St.Vincent to represent the young woman free of cost. Pilgrim was not present at Monday’s hearing when the complaint was withdrawn for want of prosecution.
But Hinds expressed hope that the debate over women’s rights remains topical, noting that while steps are being made in the right direction, the region is still a long way off from removing gender barriers.
“We still have a lot of work to do in respect of women and girls’ rights. We are not there yet but I would concede that we are moving in the right direction but there is a stubborn culture of top fit masculinity that is standing in our way. The fact that there are men in the Caribbean who still don’t understand that serial infidelity is actually emotional abuse, which can be as traumatic as a good old-time beating, is worrying. This entire culture of acceptability must be examined before we can move to the next level,” she said.