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Almost one month after accusing Ezechiel Joseph, the new Minister of Agriculture, of sexual assault, former parliamentarian, Jeanine Compton-Antoine maintains that she was sexually assaulted and plans to continue speaking out.
Compton-Antoine said that while she has to seek legal advice to determine whether she can pursue the matter or not, she hopes that her story would help other women facing similar issues to understand that they are not alone.
“I do hope that my statement help other women facing domestic violence and sexual harassment to realize that they are not alone. And as a society we need to be a little more sensitive,” she told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) in an interview on Tuesday.
Compton-Antoine said Joseph allegedly sexually assaulted her while he was minister in the previous United Workers Party administration. “He tried to take off my shirt and kiss me, and you are telling me that I must stay with people like that?” she told a political rally.
The former Micoud North MP believes that society are quick to condone acts of violence, sexual harassment and domestic violence, and instead of supporting victims, they tap on the shoulders of the perpetrators.
While many people have been questioning why she decided to tell her story many years after the incident and a week before a major election, Compton-Antoine told SNO that her question to those same people would be, “Why not now?”
“There is no right or wrong time. It is when the victim is ready or capable of speaking out about it. When this happens to you, you feel dirty, degraded and you don’t know where to turn to. This incident shows that even society doesn’t provide support. Victims are left to deal with it alone.”
The daughter of former Saint Lucia Prime Minister, Sir John Compton, said that her statement was genuine and she felt that it was necessary to make public.
“People need to understand that the statements I made was not political. I made it for people to understand that I was a victim of something. I was the one who was betrayed. I never betrayed the people. I always stood by the people of the constituency and the people of Saint Lucia. I resigned from the UWP but I did not resign from Parliament,” she explained.
Compton-Antoine said she was portrayed as the betrayer rather than the betrayed, and told SNO that it was disappointing to see the level of negativity and the comments that were made particularly by women in relation to her coming out to say that she was allegedly sexually assaulted.
She is advising women in similarcircumstances to, “Be strong and continue to fight.”