Anyone who has the responsibility to care for elderly people and neglects or abuses them can be charged with human trafficking.
This was the warning sent out by the head of the Gender-Based Violence Unit of the TTPS, ASP Claire Guy-Alleyne as she gave an update on the condition of a 92-year-old woman who was rescued by police from a ‘house of horrors’ in El Dorado on Wednesday.
In an interview yesterday, Guy-Alleyne said the woman has since been placed in a safe house.
She said the woman was treated at a hospital for open wounds on her legs after being removed from her home where she was allegedly being neglected and abused by a relative.
One of the woman’s neighbours, Latoya Greaves, had appealed on social media for police and the social services to intervene after she found the woman lying helpless in the rain in her front yard on Sunday afternoon. The woman lived at the house with a relative, who neighbours have accused of neglecting, ill-treating and abusing the woman on a daily basis. The house itself resembled a dump, with huge piles of garbage dominating the entire property, including the bedrooms, kitchen and bathroom areas.
“She is safe and sound, she is at a location that we will not disclose for obvious reasons. Her wounds were attended to and she is okay. Going forward, her health will be monitored on a continuous basis,” Guy-Alleyne said yesterday.
She said police are yet to interview the woman adding the woman’s wellbeing is paramount before any investigation can begin.
Guy-Alleyne sent out a warning to those who have the responsibility for elderly people, as she said those who are found culpable of neglect or abuse can face stiff penalties.
“Once you have elderly persons and you have a family member or friend who would be accepting money on behalf of the elderly person and they are not taking care of that person, they can be committing offences under the Trafficking Act so we would be investigating this matter to the fullest to see whether or not that was the case,” Guy-Alleyne said.
She also sent out an appeal to members of the public to speak out when they suspect someone is being abused.
“I would like to make a plea to the public: if you see something, say something. Even if you want to remain anonymous, we are in 2020 heading into 2021, there are several avenues that the Commissioner (Gary Griffith) have exposed to the public where they can make a report anonymously through the 999, the 555, the online reporting or even the TTPS app. We are asking people, stop seeing bad things happen and remaining quiet,” Guy-Alleyne said.
She also congratulated Latoya Greaves, who through her social media advocacy ensured the woman’s plight was highlighted so she could be removed from the home.
Guy-Alleyne did urge caution though, saying members of the public should try not to identify victims of abuse on social media as she said it can sometimes lead to victim-shaming.