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Police officers arrive at the scene where the body of kidnapped victim Andrea Bharatt was found in the Heights of Aripo yesterday.

Just like the year 2020, the year 2021 was not kind to the women and girls of Trinidad and Tobago.

By December 15, 31 women and one infant girl had been killed – with dozens more beaten, raped and attacked, in most cases by people they knew and trusted.

Domestic violence continues to be a major issue in T&T and women and girls continue to be brutalised and exploited.

When secondary school teacher, Suzette Slyvester was found bludgeoned to death in her Preysal Cova home on January 4, there was widespread condemnation for her husband, Kurt Slyvester. He was charged with Suzette’s murder on January 8.

Relatives of the beloved teacher and mother said they did not know Suzette was in an abusive relationship until it was too late.

There was a similar public outcry when Jada Pierre was attacked and left for dead in a field road in Santa Flora on January 8 by her ex-boyfriend. Luckily, Pierre survived the attack and her ex-boyfriend was arrested and charged.

Weeks later, photos surfaced on social media showing a smiling Andrea Bharatt, who had been reported missing on January 29.

She had left her job at the Arima Magistrates Court for the day with a co-worker. CCTV footage would surface in the coming days, showing Bharatt browsing in a pharmacy before getting into a Nissan Versa sedan with fake “H” license plates on King Street Arima. There was a man in the front seat of the car and the fake taxi dropped Bharatt’s coworker off at her Cleaver Heights, Arima home.

Bharatt was supposed to be dropped off at her Arima Old Road home shortly after but she never made it home.

Her father, Randolph Bharatt called her cellphone when she failed to come home. A man answered, telling Randolph his daughter was not available. When the father begged to hear her voice, the man told him, “This is about money, if you don’t pay the ransom I will cut off your daughter’s ears and send it to you.”

With social media abuzz about Bharatt’s whereabouts, it seemed that the public’s interest in the case grew as the efforts of police officers to find her intensified.

On January 30, police arrested two men – Andrew Morris and Joel Balcon said to be the main players in Bharatt’s kidnapping and murder.

On February 3, news broke that 35-year-old Morris had died at the Arima Hospital.

On February 4, the nation looked on in horror as the news the public had been dreading was broken – Bharatt’s decomposing body was found down a precipice in the Heights of Aripo.

She was dressed only in a multicoloured vest and underwear. As media cameras recorded, her father was seen being escorted away from the site, his hands firmly held by a Woman Police Constable.

It was an image that seemed to scar the nation and incensed by her murder and that of countless women and girls before her, communities across the country took to the streets, holding vigils and calling for justice.

Scores of women took to social media to share their stories of being harassed, followed, intimidated and abused by men while trying to go about their daily lives.

On February 9, Balcon died at the Eric Williams Medical Sciences Complex. Autopsies done on the body of both men found they died from blunt force trauma. While their families called for justice, the public pushed back, saying the police had done what was necessary to find the nation’s “Angel.”

On February 11, 24-year-old Negus George was charged with Bharatt’s murder. His common-law wife, Giselle Hobson, 37 was charged with receiving stolen items, including Bharatt’s cellphone and clothing.

The days passed by, but for a nation in grief, it seemed as though time stood still.

Bharatt’s funeral was carded for February 12. As more vigils and candlelight marches were planned for that night, an announcement on social media showed just how deeply the country was affected by Bharatt’s murder, as more than 500 businesses announced they would remain closed on the day of her funeral.

By then, word had also spread that Bharatt’s favourite colour was pink and the public was urged to wear pink on the day of her funeral in solidarity with her family.

Her funeral procession was state-like, with hundreds of people lining the streets of Arima as her casket was driven past her workplace, the Arima Magistrates Court. As far as the eye could see, there were people dressed in pink, holding pink balloons, wearing t-shirts with her face plastered on the front – with not a dry eye in sight, as the country as a whole seemed to cry out.

Almost simultaneously, a large crowd gathered outside the Parliament in Port of Spain, calling on both the Government and Opposition members of Parliament to work together to create better legislation to protect women and girls.

Dozens held up posters with Bharatt’s image and that of many other murdered women and girls. Among the calls of citizens was for rapists to be denied bail and for pepper spray to be legalised so women would be able to protect themselves.

Later that day, hundreds of people joined Bharatt’s father and other relatives for a vigil at the Eddie Hart Grounds in Tacarigua for another vigil.

Inside the Parliament on that day, came welcome news from the Government that pepper spray legislation was in the works. Months later, in May, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi laid an amendment to the Firearms Act in the Senate, allowing for the use of pepper spray by members of the public with a permit.

On June 17, the amendment was passed into law with unanimous support from both Houses.

In April, officers of the Special Operations Response Team (SORT) found themselves under heavy scrutiny for the deaths of Morris and Balcon.

On April 19, SORT head, ASP Mark Hernandez was charged with misbehaviour in public office in relation to the deaths of Morris and Balcon. Hernandez was stripped of his position and Superintendent Roger Alexander replaced him.

The findings of a Police Complaints Authority (PCA) investigation into the men’s deaths were released in October, with the Authority finding that Morris and Balcon were the “subject of torture” while in police custody.

It was also revealed that the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) was brought in to assist police with their probe into the deaths of Morris and Balcon.

To date, Hernandez is the only officer to have been charged in relation to the men’s deaths.

31 women, one girl murdered in 2021

January 4- Secondary school teacher, Suzette Slyvester was found bludgeoned to death in her Preysal, Couva home. Her husband, Kurt Slyvester, walked into the Chauguanas Police Station that day and led officers to her body. He was charged on January 8 with her murder.

January 8 – Jada Pierre was beaten on the head with a hammer and left for dead in a field road in Santa Flora by her ex-boyfriend, Cerron Akiba Matthew. Pierre survived and on January 11, Matthew was charged with wounding with intent to cause grievous bodily harm.

January 29 – Law clerk Andrea Bharatt, 23, was abducted on her way to her Arima home by a man pretending to be PH taxi driver and an accomplice.

February 4- Andrea Bharatt’s decomposing body was found down a precipice in the Heights of Aripo. On February 11, Negus George of Gooding Trace Malabar was charged with Bharatt’s murder. His common-law wife, Giselle Hobson was charged with receiving items alleged stolen from Bharatt including a cellphone, ATM card, earrings, and an article of clothing.

February 9 – Sixteen-year-old Tamika Griffith was shot in the head at the home of a Claxton Bay relative. The Princes Town East Secondary student was at the home to do online classes. Her 16-year-old relative was charged on February 25 with manslaughter, possession of a firearm and possession of ammunition.

March 2- Karen Rauseo-Karim was found dead in her Buen Intento, Princes Town apartment. Fifty-three-year-old Rauseo-Karim had been in abusive relationship with Robert Taylor for a number of years and the couple had moved into the apartment the day before Rauseo-Karim’s murder. Taylor was charged on March 8 with Rauseo-Karim’s murder.

March 5 – Marissa Williams, of Cragnish Village Princes Town was shot once in the thigh at her home by a gunman who told her “This is a warning.” Williams survived.

March 9 – The body of Adeina Adana Alleyne, 35, was found in her Building Five, Embacadere apartment. The body of the father of her children, Dwight Waldrop was found hanging in a bedroom in the apartment. Alleyne’s murder was witnessed by the couple’s children, who ran to get help for their dying mother.

March 9 – Twenty-six-year-old Metcher Missette was at her Bayshore Marabella home when a man known to her threw gasoline in the room, set it afire and fled. Missette was able to escape.

April 17 – The body of 96-year-old Utilda Joseph was discovered in her Quarry Village, Siparia home. An autopsy later found Joseph died of strangulation.

April 26 – Alicia Lynch was kidnapped at gunpoint from her Matilda Road, Princes Town home by a man she knew. She was later shot in the leg and pushed out of the man’s car. Lynch was able to survive.

May 24 – Anne Marie Diaz, 47, was murdered by her common-law husband, Amar Zoongie at her Paltoo Road, Todd’s Road home. Zoongie then took his own life. The couple had one son together.

May 24 – Nikeisha Allen, 36, was stabbed to death by a female relative during a confrontation at Simeon Road, Petit Valley.

May 28 – The body of Amanda Leid, 33, was found in her Ajim Baksh Street, Malabar Arima home. She was stabbed in the back and her body was set on fire. Her husband, Roger John was charged with her murder on June 9.

June 7 – Kadijah Flament, 24, of Lothian’s Road Princes Town disappeared at leaving her home to see her daughter at her friend’s Olera Height’s, San Fernando apartment.

June 7 – The body of 28-year-old Samantha Williams was found insider her Basement Extension, Upper 7th Avenue, Barataria home. Williams had last been seen by relatives in April.

June 8 – Amanda West was shot dead at her Orchid Drive, Jacob Hill, Wallerfield home. Police said West was linked to several robberies.

June 17 – The charred remains of a body, believed to be that of Kadijah Flament found at a dumpsite near agricultural land at Reform Road, Gasparillo. On July 3, 18-year-old Faith Ramsubagh was charged with Flament’s murder. On July 9, Flament’s friend, nurse Kelly Phillip was also charged with her murder. Ramsubagh’s brother, Kyle “Iron Beast” Delande was charged with disposing of Flament’s body.

June 25 – The unidentified body of a woman was found at the Sea Lots Waterfront.

July 1 – The body of Shannon Whyte was found submerged in a barrel of water at her Mon Repos, Morvant home. A gun was discovered in Whyte’s hand and an autopsy later found she died from a single gunshot wound to the head. Whyte’s relatives said she did not take her own life.

July 14 – Dawn McKenna, 40, her son Jordan McKenna 18 and Jordan’s friend, Jeremy De Freitas, 18, were shot dead in Dawn’s car along St John’s Road, St Augustine.

July 14 – The bodies of Amanda Mohammed, 39, her husband, Mustapha Mohammed, 44, and their friend Kendall Rivers were found in a forested area in Upper St John’s, St Augustine with chop wounds to the neck.

July 17 – Sherry-Ann Jemmot, 42, of Welcome Road, Cunupia, was found dead in her car in Carlsen Field. Her vehicle had been set afire.

July 27 – The bodies of Crystal Jagroop and her common-law husband, Michael Deonarine were found in their Gangaram Trace, Brother’s Road home. They had both been shot to death.

August 2 – A 42-year-old woman was shot twice at her Carapo home, her husband was beaten by the gunman.

August 9 – The body of 34-year-old Annalisa Gookol was found in a forested area off Warden Road, Sangre Chiquito. Gokool was missing since June 6. On August 13, Daneil Sanchez, 35 of Sangre Grande was charged with Gokool’s murder.

September 18 – Savitri Sooklal, 60 and her daughter, Ariana Sandeepa Balgobin, 21, were found murdered in their Soledad Road, Claxton Bay home. Both were shot in the head.

September 20 – Fifteen-month-old Sariah Williams was chopped to death in her grandmother’s arms during a domestic dispute at the family home in Tarodale Gardens, Ste Madeline. Her grandmother, Michelle Williams was wounded in the attack. William’s common-law husband, Neville Simon was charged for Sariah’s murder on September 27.

September 24 – The bodies of Kumarie Kowlessar, 76, her daughter, Radishka Timal-David, 48 and her grandson, Zachary David, 20 were found at their Oudan Trace, El Socorro home. Timal-David’s son, Rakesh David, 25, was later charged with all three murders.

October 9 – Kalisha Hazel Edgar, 38 and her partner, Kevin Phillips, 48 were murdered in their car along the Southern Main Road in Curepe.

November 4 – The body of 28-year-old Kezia Jeneka Guerra was found in a shallow grave in Maracas St Joseph. Guerra was last seen alive on October 30. The main suspect in her murder committed suicide at his Curepe home on October 31.

November 6 – Roxanne Warren, 39 of Blake Avenue, Sangre Grande shot dead at her home. Her brother, Russel Warne was wounded in the attack.

November 8 – Monica Jagroop, 35, chopped to death at her New Grant home. Her brother-in-law Antero McQueen was also chopped to death. Her father, Manickchand Jagroop and her sister, Indra Jagroop were also chopped, with one of Indra’s hands being severed in the attack.

On November 23, Jagroop’s brother, Rajindra Jagroop was charged with both murders.

November 12 – Rehana Jaggernauth reported missing after leaving her mother’s Enterprise home. Rehana, 32, lived in Marac Village Moruga and was visiting her mother at the time of her disappearance. Her body was found on November 14, floating in the Guayamare River in Caroni.

November 16 – Abigail Lewis was killed while on her way home in a taxi. The unidentified PH taxi driver was also killed. Lewis’ family later said she was in the wrong place at the wrong time

December 3 – Shadie Dasarath was found in her Temple Street, La Romaine apartment, nude and unresponsive. Her common-law husband, Quamise Vance told police the two fought over a hickey on Dasarath’s body and he later found her dead. On December 11, Vance was charged with Dasarath’s murder.

December 16 – Tericia Phillip died after being stabbed by a close female relative at Quash Trace, Sangre Grande.

The relative was beaten by other relatives and later handed over to police.

WHERE TO GET HELP

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there are avenues to get help.

The Office of the Prime Minister has partnered with Eutelmed and UNICEF to offer free and confidential E-counselling services which is available 24/7.

To access this E-counselling service, log on to caring.eutelmed.com

Prendre soin de ceux qui vivent loin – Eutelmed

Consultez un professionel de santé en vidéo, dans votre langue et culture Eutelmed est un opérateur international de soin et de qualité de vie . Ce site utilise des technologi

caring.eutelmed.com

and enter the password code: UNICEF-ECA to receive help from competent counsellors.

Seeing it, stopping it and reporting all cases of violence including child sexual abuse to the T&T Police Service at 999, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-SAVE (7283) and the Children’s Authority at 996 can save a life.

Here are some tips to help you make a difference in the life of someone experiencing domestic violence and child abuse.

You can:

1: Learn all you can about abuse;

2: Teach your loved ones about the signs of a potential victim and an abuser;

3: Actively listen to the victim;

4. Do not judge or give unsolicited advice and

5: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-SAVE for more resources. (Office of the Prime Minister)