The Movement for Social Justice’s (MSJ) deputy political leader and candidate for Fyzabad, Radhaka Gualbance, has claimed that she was physically assaulted by a man posing as a supporter of the United National Congress (UNC) while on the campaign trail.
She has reported the matter to the police.
In a Facebook post yesterday morning, Gualbance claimed an elderly man tailed her and hurled verbal insults, before eventually physically assaulting her while on a walkabout last Thursday in Fyzabad.
Gualbance said she believed she was singled out because she was a female, stating that the man did not attack her male comrades on the walkabout.
“An elderly man stopped his vehicle in the centre of the road, jumped out of the vehicle, hurling insults at me, before calling on the constituent by name I was speaking with, to chase me out and not to deal with me….and that he was a UNC and wanted to ensure that we did not come here to spilt the votes for his party, to allow the PNM back into power,” Gualbance said.
She said both she and the constituent, also a woman, ignored the man who eventually got back into his vehicle and left after causing a traffic pile up.
She said that while at a visit to another’s constituent’s place at Berridge Trace, Dow Village, Fyzabad, where there was a small gathering to welcome her, she realised the man was stalking her.
A former teacher at the Siparia Junior Secondary School, Gualbance said the man parked his vehicle close to the constituent’s fence, again calling on them to chase her while stating that Gualbance was a “dangerous woman who came to the area to split the vote and sabotage the UNC’s chances of becoming the next Government in office”.
“I felt a little uncomfortable now because he was now on my trail. He was not even attacking the other members that were further up the street, which he passed. He came to the gate where he knew I was,” Gualbance related.
She said she proceeded to leave to rejoin her comrades who were not too distant away, but the man who was parked a mere three feet from the constituent’s fence allegedly grabbed her arm.
She claimed, “He snatched my arm and pulled me and demanded, $300 if he has to vote for me because that is what the UNC would give.”
She said she managed to struggle her arm away from the man’s grip adding that it was at this instance one of her comrades, on noticing what was transpiring, intervened to find out if she was alright.
Gualbance said though she communicated to her comrade that she was okay, she felt mentally shaken, as she never expected a physical attack.
Explaining she had never been on the frontline in a political battle, as her role usually fell in that of a campaign manager, Gualbance said the experience shook her to the core.
“Verbal, I could deal with that, yuh could come with yuh cutlass by yuh gate if yuh wanted, but to hold me by my arm and pull at me. And that is how some men treat our women in this country—with no respect,” argued Gualbance.
She added: “We must not allow this and politics must not overtake us like this.
“Something is not right when you are so committed to a party you are willing to become violent. At the end of the day, this is Trinidad and we are all Trinidadians, regardless of the party of choice,” said Gualbance.
Gualbance said she subsequently made an official report to the Fyzabad Police Station after filing her nomination last Friday. She said the report had since been transferred to the Oropouche Police Station that was attending to the matter.
Guardian Media reached out to the president of the International Women’s Resource Network (IWRN), Adriana, Sandrine-Rattan for comment on the alleged attack on Gualbance, given that she believed she was targeted because of her gender.
Sandrine-Rattan said the organisation strongly condemned the attack and added that it would issue a statement later this week, urging parties to conduct their campaigns with respect and devoid of personal humiliation and emotional and physical harassment, particularly in relation to women.