An open letter to Yana Auguste, victim of gender-based violence

An open letter to Yana Auguste, victim of gender-based violence

Dearest Yana: This is my first open letter and some of the most personal feelings I have ever expressed in writing.

Your death caused me deep despair and grief, as have so many brutal assaults on other young women in the past. Though I have never met you, many people have expressed their love and admiration for you. I want you to know that many of us will keep fighting for the rights that your murderers so viciously violated.

While it is a tragedy that we were unable to help you, there is hope for other girls and young women who continue to face similar dangers of violence. Violence against females of all ages is an epidemic; and any cultural beliefs which continue to promote and encourage this violence must be challenged and effective measures taken to prevent further assaults and deaths from occurring.

Many of us were shocked by the video which circulated throughout social media and particularly disturbed by local media’s overt sexualization of your “semi-nude body”. Tragic photos and video of your lifeless body, were exposed for the entire world to see. The act of violence against your person was sadistic in both nature and form. It projected a message of warning to other women and girls as to just how fragile our bodies can be when assaulted by violence. The fact that these photos and video went viral with such pejorative commentary is an alarming reflection of the incredibly low value and respect given to women’s bodies.

The media reported the alleged incident as an “accident”, yet media reporting of accidents do not typically include such detailed accounts of the physical appearance of the victims male or female. I was thus not terribly surprised when comments regarding your sexual preferences and sexual activity became the focal point of most discussions on various internet and public forums.

It is regrettable that your death served as the stimulus for debates about acceptable sexual practices (for women specifically) instead of the need and methods for preventing violence against women in all its forms. I am truly sorry that the nature of your death did not signal a loud wake up call to the responsible human rights agencies to take action or to the public to reflect more deeply on the rights of women and children to live free from violence.

Unfortunately, it is neither well known nor acknowledged that violence is the number one cause of death for women in the world. The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery stated in 1991 that “violence was the second most common cause of injury overall and the most common cause of injury of women aged 15-44 years old, – above cancer, car accidents, war and malaria. The World Bank reports that up to 70 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime and that, “Every year millions of women and girls worldwide suffer violence, be it domestic violence, rape, female genital mutilation/cutting, dowry-related killing, trafficking, sexual violence in conflict-related situations or other manifestations of abuse.”

Violence against women takes many forms – physical, sexual, psychological and economic. These forms of violence are interrelated and affect females from before birth to old age. Women and girls who experience violence have diminished ability to participate in public life. Thus, violence against women not only harms individual women, it harms families and communities across generations and reinforces other violence prevalent in society. Violence against women not only impoverishes women, it impoverishes their families, their communities and their nations.

Many of us have advocated for the rights of women and girls to be upheld, but we continue to be dismissed as promoting feminist views rather than humanistic ones. The time has come to address the root of violence against women, which is persistent institutionalized discrimination against women and girls, as separate from human beings.

Every time a female victim dies from violence, we read about it, comment on it, and participate in public demonstrations. But in our private reflections, we all share a common fear – that it might have been us or those whom we love.

May you rest in perfect peace dear Yana, and all of our beloved sisters, daughters, friends, nieces, aunts and mothers whom you have now joined in death as a victim of violence.


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  1. Sorry, but half of this article does not make sense. Maybe it was more of an opportunistic crime and not solely female targeted crime... Maybe!


  2. Boy get real if u have nothing to say keep quiet. We talking about violence against women.If this is your case u can solve this in the court of law.


    • Thats the problem, talk about violence in general, why stick to this tired narrative of women being victims. The great majority of violent deaths on island are young males, i dont see any write up or bleeding hearts for them. Deal with violence in general and women will be safer but how can women be safe in a society where ppl are shot in broad dailylight in the middle of castries with no justice


  3. BA you have a serious problem and need to get help asap. It does not mean because one St Lucian woman may have done you over for you to be so angry at us all.

    I am proud to have one of my parents as a St Lucian. There is good and bad in any nationality no matter what race,colour or gender you may be. You also need to be educated and I think the editors should censor comments which should and should not be displayed. St Lucia News Online line should be held accountable by way of legal action against them for allowing people like you to make discriminating, derogatory, insenitive and abusive comments such as yours which you make on a regular basis particularly towards black women. You should be banned. I also think comments such as yours should be trace by the law and legal action taken againt you and people like you. Surely in this day and age of modern technology YOU can be traced and found and taken to task for you actions? What you are doing is wrong. You have no heart or consideration for family and friends of victim and have no boundary. INHUMAIN.

    Yes men are also victims of domestic violence however they have too much pride to report incidents against them. Who is at fault for that? There are laws to assist persons who wish to pursue such cases like what you mentioned.

    There are ways of making your point without disrescpecting people in particular black women like you do. Stay off the St Lucian websites if you do not like black women. I can tell you now if you did that on the website of a bigger country like USA, England, China or Canada for example they would have traced your arse and lock you arse in jail.


    • Oh shut up!
      And allow the truth and wisdom in my comments haunt your bobbing head for the rest of your natural life.


      • You will not be so fortunate for me to allow your ignorant, confused and stupid comments to take over my mind. I am a strong black woman who control my own mind with positive thoughts. Put that in your pipe and smoke it. Ha ha ha. You do not have two brain cells to allow you to know what wisdom is. Try another.


  4. How about violence against men?
    How many of you come out and talk about it?

    How about you talk about St. Lucian women rather buy weaves than taking care if their children?

    How about Lucian women who make Lucian men build huge houses for them and upon completion, she kicks him out because the house was/is built on her daddy's land?

    Let's be true and fair with our comments.


  5. She can't hear you. Lemme just say, people please understand how precious life is. Make peace with your past. Don't be too big to aapologizewhen you sshould. Tell the good people in ur life how much u love them everyday cause one day, they'll leave u whether naturally or tragically. Anyway, I'm sorry to burst your bubble but Eccestiastes states clearly the dead knows nothing. But accept my sympathy. May God comfort, console, and restore happiness some way or the other to the family.


    • I don't think it was the writer's intention for her to "hear". That letter was well written and expresssed the author's attempt to highlight the issues that were brought about by the victim's death and in some way, her hope is that those of us left behind can become aware of our own sad reality and perhaps do something about it. Please don't trevialise an other wise serious issue in our society.


  6. It is so sad that this person took away our life of the party she was out going , , loving and caring person
    . Yana was a helpful straight forward person. This person who took her live couldn't take rejection so he took her away from us I'm praying that we get justice for her. Yana r.i.p we will always remember you even if you gone.


  7. Very profound letter. Brought tears to my eyes. I hope her killer is brought to justice soon. May she rest in peace.


  8. that is so true!like you said we all feel that common fear it can be anyone of us or our family members.. I feel for your family




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