The Head of the Gender-Based Violence Unit (GBVU) in the Police Service has acknowledged that police officers have not always treated female crime victims with the sensitivity they deserve, but she also is admonishing the media for its reporting of sexual assault cases.

(Ag) Superintendent Claire Guy-Alleyne was speaking on CNC3’s The Morning Brew, responding to recent social media articles in which women have been speaking out about their negative experiences with the police after being sexually assaulted.

She cautions the media against worsening the trauma that victims experience.

“The media has to be careful when sensationalising their articles, for example, because it would add more trauma to the survivor than anything else,” she warns. 

“We are asking persons to stop the victim shaming.  When you do victim shaming like what happened recently, it causes survivors to not want to come forward and make reports,” the GBVU head said.

Supt Guy-Alleyne told Guardian Media that police officers do undergo specialist training to deal with such cases.  She also confirmed there are systems in place which offer victims psycho-social support.

“Rape is a very heinous crime. It takes a lot from a victim—a survivor—of such a crime to make a report. We would have instances where survivors would come and they would make a report of rape, and that person is not ready as yet to even provide police with a statement,” she explains.

“We have systems within the TTPS where that survivor can be offered psycho-social support before we even commence recording statements from them,” she added.

The GBVU head reminds citizens there is no statutory limitation on rape.

“Rape is a crime, and the perpetrator must be held accountable,” she asserts.  “That is the only way we will eradicate rape from this country.” 

Supt Guy-Alleyne encourages sexual assault victims and survivors to file reports of their assault with the police, regardless of when the crime was committed.

“The Police Service provides an avenue for survivors to come forward and feel comfortable to make their reports, so that the investigations can proceed, and their cases can be taken before the courts of Trinidad and Tobago, and that perpetrator can be successfully prosecuted,” she said.