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Jamaican woman fears for her life after rape

Published:Saturday | December 20, 2014 | 12:00 AMNoelle Nicolls

NASSAU, The Bahamas:

"Mi fraid! Mi fraid! God know mi fraid!" These are the cries of a Jamaican woman who alleges she was abducted and raped by a senior immigration officer in The Bahamas earlier this week. After the traumatic series of events unfolded, the victim said her attacker "had the nerve" to supply his phone number, suggest they could date, and asked for a kiss before leaving her.

The Jamaican woman, who comes from an area of Ocho Rios, St Ann, said the ordeal began early last Saturday morning when police arrested 11 women on suspicion of prostitution during a raid at a bar in The Bahamas. The police reported the raid in their weekend crime report. Of all the women picked up, the victim was the only person employed to the bar.

The minimalist bar sits on the bottom floor of a run-down two-storey plaza in a part of town under police radar. The woman says the minimum-wage salary she earns at the bar goes towards feeding her three young children.

According to the bar owner, at least 30 police officers, many armed with semi-automatic weapons, blocked off both sides of the main road in front of the bar early Saturday morning. Their presence caused the 50 or so patrons in the club to "make a beeline for the door".

"The police searched the men and let them go. They told the women - the Jamaican women - to get on the bus," said the owner.

The alleged rape victim was one of the women.

She said that despite producing a copy of her spousal permit to prove her legal status, she was taken on to the bus and carted off to a downtown police station.

"Everyone was afraid. I thought I was safe since I had my papers. When we went in the bus, I said, 'I have residency papers. I have a spousal permit.' The man said, 'Go in the bus'," she said, referring to a cop.

DISRESPECTFUL OFFICER

While at the Central Police Station on East Street, which was the first place she was taken, the victim said she encountered a "disrespectful" female police officer who remarked to another: "You should put them in a barrel and sink them." She said another "very nice" male officer was empathetic, consoling the women by saying, "everybody is different". He had been to Jamaica before and liked the country.

Later on Saturday, the women were transferred to the Carmichael Road Detention Center.

"Mi neva sleep. Mi did a watch wah a gwaan," said the victim. Jamaican Head of Mission Consul Patrick Hanlan interceded on her behalf the same Saturday.

The victim was released from police custody with no charge, but handed over to the Department of Immigration.

She alleges that she was released into the custody of an immigration officer on Monday and she left the detention centre in his private vehicle, an F-150 jeep. She said he told her he was taking her to the immigration department, but instead took her to his home. She said she never made it home until the next day after being repeatedly raped by the officer.

"I told him, 'No, no. I want to go home to my children. I want to see my children. I want to go home now'," she said.

After she was released by the immigration officer on Tuesday afternoon, the victim said she was counselled to report the matter to the police. She did so later that evening.

The immigration officer was taken into custody on Wednesday. Police did not file the arrest in the daily crime report.