(Trinidad Guardian) Women in this country deserve to live their lives without fear of sexual assault, Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said yesterday, as he expressed disgust at the rape and murder of baker Leslie-Ann Gonzales.
Rowley said the attack on Gonzales was an attack on the entire female body of this country. He pleaded with the country’s men to do the right thing and not become a monster that their female relatives would fear as he expressed sympathy to Gonzales’ family
He made the statements yesterday as he performed the role of deejay on the Barber Shop programme on radio station i955 FM. Rowley adopted the name “DJ K” to show what host John Benoit called a lighter side of the Prime Minister.
Rowley had performed the role of deejay for almost an hour, playing a couple old school calypsoes and talking to callers, when he received a phone call from a woman who said she was “very angry.”
“Dr Rowley, I know that this morning the programme is featuring the lighter side of your good self. However, you played a song some time ago, “I Believe” by Shadow. Now I must say there are times I find it difficult to continue believing in this blessed country of mine. I am very angry this morning Dr Rowley, I am extremely angry, I am hurt, I am emotional. Does the name Leslie-Ann Gonzales mean anything to you? Do you know who she is?” the woman asked.
The female caller said Gonzales represented her, the prime minister’s wife Sharon and every other woman and young girl in Trinidad and Tobago. She called on Rowley to talk to the men in the country.
“That is a difficult one for me and I can tell you why, because these personal decisions when people choose to do things like that and until they do it you really don’t know they are even thinking it. All I could say is that the women, like the men, especially the women who are more exposed to this kind of thing, they deserve to be safe, they deserve to be allowed to live their lives without fear of these kinds of attacks and to the men thinking that kind of thing, as the woman said think again, you have a mother, you have a sister, you might even have a daughter and when they go out they would not want to meet somebody like you, thinking the things you are thinking,” Rowley said.
Rowley said the number of criminals in this country was relatively small compared to the size of the population, but they are “hurting us in every possible way.” He called on anyone who may know who Gonzales’ attacker is to come forward.
Benoit recalled that his own sister was raped and killed.
“(Gonzales) represents every female, it is an attack on the female body of Trinidad and Tobago, because if a person could do that to that individual, there is no reason why he couldn’t do it or wouldn’t do it to another individual. So every single woman has to see herself and say ‘there but for the grace of God go I’ because it could have easily been you, your daughter, your sister and that is why we need to find the people who are doing that,” Rowley said.
Rowley said sexual attacks represent “a kind of a loss of respect, a lack of respect and a selfishness that drives some of the male form to believe they have an entitlement to behave like that.”
According to an autopsy done last Friday, Gonzales was raped, strangled and stabbed at least 10 times in the face with an ice pick after she was attacked on her way to her Oropouche Road, Valencia home on Wednesday.
The 38-year-old who worked at Linda’s Bakery warehouse, El Socorro, San Juan, was found on Thursday after failing to return home the night before. Her co-workers told relatives she left work around 7.30 pm Wednesday.
Gonzales’ body was found about 100 metres from where she lived in a bushy poorly lit dried up river.