“Jail, not bail!” was among the calls made by protestors outside the Red House yesterday. More than a dozen citizens showed up yesterday morning to have their voices heard by the leaders of the country following the kidnapping and murder of Andrea Bharatt, 23.
Their chant was in condemnation of the fact that one of the suspects in Bharatt’s abduction had more than 70 charges, including rape, grievous sexual assault, kidnapping, drug dealing and gun possession, but was out on bail.
“In 2020 we had 416 missing girls. Statistically, while we’re doing this interview, another girl might go missing. We want safety for our women here in Trinidad. We want the 41 sitting members of Parliament…while you are with your security detail in a mansion with high security, we the average people, we don’t have that,” one demonstrator, Chantal Mohammed declared.
“We just want to be safe on the streets and we want you to put things in place for that to happen.”
The nation has rallied together since Bharatt’s abduction last Friday. The case has once again sparked debate about allowing women to carry non-lethal forms of protection such as pepper spray. However, one demonstrator, Kirby Moses, said that measure is only superficial.
“Okay, if we do get that it means also those things are available to men as well. It would be available to everybody, so that may be a quick fix but something more long-term, something more impactful needs to be done and that would be with writing laws that actually protect women,” she said.
Bharatt’s badly decomposed body was discovered in Aripo Heights on Thursday. Grief over her death has quickly turned to anger, with citizens calling for the reinstatement of the death penalty.
An effigy was mounted on an overpass in south Trinidad with a sign around its neck saying: “Pass the law. Hang them.”This sentiment was also echoed at yesterday’s Red House protest with some of the participants holding up placards calling for the return of the hangman.
Erica Wright said she stood firmly by that call.
“We need to do more. We cannot have rapists and murderers walking among us freely…and I say they need to pay for what they do. We need to bring the death penalty back,” she said. Kevin Lalla agreed that something needs to be done to protect women. He said a good place to start would be strict enforcement of existing legislation.
“Implement and enforce the laws we have on the books because we have some very good pieces of legislation,” he said.“What we need to do is implement this legislation in a manner that is consistent with what we want to achieve and that’s the protection of women, children and the vulnerable in society.”