So, leave me alone… the plight of a Trinidadian woman

No longer a sweet sweet T&T, the island is facing an increased incidence of the disappearance of women, and the subsequent identification of their cold, lifeless bodies found tucked away in the steepest valleys of the country. Many women who are lucky to survive instances of kidnapping, trafficking, rape and murder report that their ordeals began with a simple case of stalking or harassment.So what are the laws surrounding harassment in Trinidad?Section 30A(1) of the Offences against the Person Act Chap. 11:08 defines “harassment” of the person to include alarming them or causing them distress by engaging in a course of conduct such as:

• following, making visual recordings of, stopping or accosting the person;

• watching, loitering near or hindering access to or from a person’s residence, workplace or any other place frequented by the person;• entering their property or interfering with property in their possession;

• making contact with the person by gesture, verbally, by post, telephone, computer or in any other way;

• giving them offensive material or leaving it where it will be found by, given to or brought to the attention of the person;

• acting in any manner described above, towards someone with a familial or close relationship with the person;

• acting in any other way that could reasonably be expected to alarm or cause distress.However, this behaviour must have occurred on at least two occasions before it can be classified as harassment in the eyes of the law.

Section 30A(2) provides for the alleged perpetrator to be liable on summary conviction, to a fine of $2000 TTD and imprisonment for six months.This is why gathering evidence of such conduct including screenshotting text messages, video and audio media, taking photographs and making police reports after incidents of stalking and harassment is crucial for victims.

Additionally, you may be able to obtain a protection order and even compensation for medical expenses from the Court for a limited time. Nevertheless, if the alleged perpetrator can show that his behaviour was reasonable or pursued for the purpose of preventing crime, he or she may have a valid defence to his/her charge.

So, Trini women say to those with dark obsessions, just leave us alone.

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