Assault of female students at UWI sparks demonstration
The annual homecoming ceremonies and Ring Road parade were cancelled at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, as the campus grappled with the report of the assault of two female students by a male student on one of its halls of residence on Tuesday evening.
Female students across the campus donned black clothing, while residents of the Mary Seacole Hall stood in unison with banners, protesting the incident and calling for the administration of the university to do more to prevent gender-based assaults on its campus. One of the injured students is seeking compensation from UWI and has hired a lawyer.
"Right now, we are taking this protest action because we have had enough. It's as if when a girl is assaulted, it doesn't matter, and the first thing they want to tell you to do is to keep quiet about it, and this is to show that we are not keeping quiet anymore," said one female protester, who declined to give her name.
The protestors were most upset that the assault had taken place in plain view of at least four other male students and security guards, whom they said did nothing to stop the attack.
"What hurts is that this guy was in the company of his friends and none of them tried to stop it. As a matter of fact, when the first girl was unconscious and he had the second girl in a chokehold, they were telling the girl to stop fighting because she done lose," said another protesting student.
This comes less than two weeks after The Sunday Gleaner had reported that a study from former UWI lecturer Taitu Heron had documented 67 attacks against female students on the university between 2011 and 2013. The university had subsequently denied that report.
MALE STUDENT ARRESTED
However, in a statement to the media yesterday, the UWI said it "strongly condemns an incident in which a female student was badly injured during an altercation involving a male student of the campus. In this incident, the female student was taken to the University Hospital of the West Indies, where she was treated and released. The male student involved in the incident has been arrested by the police and charged with assault occasioning grievous bodily harm".
The Gleaner has learnt that while one of the students has since been taken home by her parents, the parents of the female who had received head injuries have since acquired the services of attorney Henry McCurdy, who told The Gleaner that he would be having discussions with the UWI administration regarding damages.