A human rights and gender rights advocate has called on Neil Rowe to do the “ethical” thing and step down as Member of Parliament for St Michael North West.
Felicia Dujon has contended that the rape charge he faces leaves him unable to efficiently represent his constituents.
“This is a very serious crime [he is accused of] . . . . so the ethical thing for him to do is to deal with his personal matter. Whatever time he needs he has to do that, but you can’t be standing up in Parliament or you can’t be serving people knowing that you have those grievous charges on your head,” she said in an interview with Barbados TODAY, adding that mothers and young women in Rowe’s constituency may not be comfortable speaking with him now.
“This is a matter where you want to build back the public confidence in people. People are shocked by this allegation…and the mere fact that those serious allegations have been made against him places him in a condition where some people would have lost confidence in him. It is very likely that a lot of persons will feel very anxious, especially if you don’t know him personally.”
On Monday, 43-year-old Rowe appeared in the Oistins Magistrates’ Court on a charge of raping a woman on September 18, 2022. He was not required to plead to the indictable charge and was released on $10 000 bail.
Political scientists Dr George Belle, Senator Dr Kristina Hinds and Peter Wickham all agreed that Rowe did not have to resign as an MP because of the allegation.
However, Dujon, who is also a lecturer in Philosophy at the University of West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, told Barbados TODAY she could not see how Rowe would be able to carry out his duties as an MP under the circumstances.
“I think the ethical thing that he should have done, if he is thinking about his constituents, is to say ‘this is a very serious matter, let me take some time and let me deal with this because this is a personal matter’.
“This has nothing to do with Government, this has nothing to do with his role as MP, this is a private matter. He has been charged as a private citizen, not as an MP, and because he has been charged as a private citizen it is now affecting his ability to do his duties as an MP,” she argued.
Dujon added that stripping Rowe of his position as Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly also sent a signal that he was unfit.
On Saturday, a day before police announced that Rowe had been charged with rape, Prime Minister Mia Mottley told the 83rd Annual Conference of the Barbados Labour Party that Cynthia Forde would be nominated as Deputy Speaker.
Dujon maintained that if the Prime Minister saw Rowe as unfit to continue in that position, he should also be seen as an unfit MP.
“If they felt it was relevant enough to remove him as Deputy Speaker and he hasn’t even been convicted, then that should signal something.
“He hasn’t been convicted so he has every right to be Deputy Speaker. Why did they remove him? But obviously, there is a reason why they removed him. If he isn’t fit to be Deputy Speaker then he shouldn’t be fit to be an MP,” she insisted.