Solidarity with Yugge Farrell: Regional Statement 

Solidarity with Yugge Farrell: Regional Statement 

Amend the Mental Health Act of St. Vincent and the Grenadines NOW 

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We the undersigned, condemn in the strongest possible terms, the persecution and mistreatment of Ms. Yugge Farrell by the legal, medical, and political authorities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We are in full solidarity with Ms. Farrell and those Vincentians who stand with her.

Ms. Farrell was arrested on January 4th, 2018 and charged with the use of abusive language to Karen Duncan- Gonsalves, the wife of Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and daughter-in-law of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. After pleading not guilty, an application was made by the prosecutor for Ms. Farrell to be confined to the Mental Health Centre for two weeks for psychiatric evaluation, as allowed under the nation’s Mental Health Act. However, according to a statement issued by the St. Vincent and Grenadines Human Rights Association (SVG HRA) – an independent Civil Society Organization – there was no apparent supporting evidence or behavior by Ms. Farrell which warranted the prosecutor and magistrate seeking and deciding to commit Ms. Farrell to the Mental Health Center. Furthermore, it appears that medication was administered to Ms. Farrell although the Mental Health Act only speaks to observation and evaluation of persons and does not include any mechanism to oversee involuntary admission and treatment practices. Also problematic is the fact that the Mental Health Center does not currently have trained psychiatrists or psychologists on staff. After the initial observation period passed, Ms. Farrell was detained for a third week and only released on bail on January 29th, 2018.

The mistreatment of Yugge Farrell raises several serious concerns about the probable abuse of the existing Mental Health Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines. We ask- is commitment to a mental institution for use of insulting language a regular occurrence in SVG? We join the SVG HRA in questioning the validity of the observation report and treatment administered to Ms. Farrell. We note the alleged romantic relationship that Ms. Farrell has publicly claimed with Finance Minister Camillo Gonsalves and caution those who rush to dismiss this incident as simply a matter of ‘love gone bad’ to reflect on the fact that state entities can easily use the excuse of mental instability to vilify, discredit, and institutionalize any critic or person(s) deemed a threat or embarrassment to the established political order.

As human rights defenders, feminists, and persons who care about well-being and justice in the Caribbean and beyond, we condemn the actions of the judicial and medical authorities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and their violation of the rights of Ms. Yugge Farrell. We deplore the misuse of mental health policies to oppress individuals and advance goals other than the safeguarding of wellness. Now that Ms. Farrell’s detention in the Mental Health Center has ended, we support calls for an investigation into the decision to detain and medicate her. We support her family members and demand independent medical and psychiatric care for her. We stand with the St. Vincent Human Rights Association who urge an immediate review and modification of the existing Mental Health Act so that it becomes compliant with international norms and standards to prevent abuses and protect human rights. Finally, we remind the government and authorities of St. Vincent and the Grenadines of their commitment to ensure their citizens’ right to free speech and protection from state persecution. The eyes of the world are watching you.

There must be no more violations of the rights of Yugge Farrell or any other Vincentian. Amend the Mental Health Act of St. Vincent and the Grenadines now.

In solidarity,

Andaiye- Guyana
Karen De Souza- Red Thread, Guyana
Sherlina Nageer, MPH- Guyana
D. Alissa Trotz- Canada
Jospehine Whitehead- Guyana
Angelique V. Nixon- Trinidad and Tobago
Gordon Foote- Guyana
Delores Robinson- GROOTS- Trinidad
Tonya Haynes- Barbados
Gina Singh-Trotz- USA
Akola Thompson- Guyana
Anya Dover- USA
Indera Persaud- Jamaica
Maya Trotz- USA
Ronelle King- Barbados
Julio Thijs- Canada
Verna St Rose Greaves- Trinidad and Tobago
Dr Nastassia Rambarran- Barbados
Mellissa Ifill- Guyana
Salima Bacchus-Hinds- Guyana
Fatimah Jackson-Best- Canada
Stephanie Leitch- Womantra- Trinidad and Tobago
Krysta Bisnauth- Guyana
David Khan- Canada
Mosa Telford- Guyana
Jessica Joseph, (Trindiadian Native)- St. Lucia
Kimalee Phillip- Grenada/ Canada
Lana Finikin- Jamaica
Romola Lucas- USA
Nailah John-Price- Leave Out Violence in St. Vincent and the Grenadines- SVG
Shanya Cordis- Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Spelman College- USA
Marcus Day- St. Lucia
Zina Edwards- Guyana
Karen Philip- Trinidad and Tobago
Savitri Persaud- Canada
Roy Kingston- Guyana
Simone Leid- The Women Speak Project- Trinidad and Tobago
Ayesha Constable- Jamaica
Kala Ramnath- UK
Oluatoyin Alleyne- Guyana
Naicelis Rozema Elkins- USA
Maggie Schmeitz- Stichting Ultimate Purpose- Suriname
Alicia Wallace- Equality Bahamas/Hollback- Barbados
Derwayne Willis- Guyana
Gerhard Ramsaroop, Guyana
Raquel Thomas- Caesar- Guyana
Vidyaratha Kisson- Guyana
Marsha Hinds-Layne- NOW, Barbados
Dawn Van Rossum – Antigua and BarbudaShonnet Moore – Guyana

Lauricia Akeisha Henry – Antigua

Michelle Springer – Barbados

Chantal Antoine – USA

Holly Bynoe – ARC Magazine, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Hilary Nicholson – Video for Change, Jamaica

Vashty Maharaj – Central Beat magazine, Trinidad and Tobago

Tandieka Johnson – USA

Reine Joseph – St. Lucia

Peggy Antrobus – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Honor Ford Smith – Canada/ Jamaica

Alexandrina Wong – Antigua

Marlon Mills – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Marguerite Allen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica

Vanessa Lumbley – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica

Shaneka Allen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica

Althea Cohen – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica

Olive Edwards – Jamaica Community of Positive Women, Jamaica

Eunice Graham – Jamaica

Beverly Bain – Canada/ Trinidad

Jean Lowrie-Chin – Jamaica

Erin Greene, CAFRA – Bahamas

Ann Maria Diran – Suriname

Marsha Hinds-Layne – NOW, Barbados

Maria Fontenelle – ECADE, Eastern Caribbean

Randall Theodule – St. Lucia

Majhon John – USA

Maxine Allen – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Cherrise Mcdowall – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Jermain Ostiana – Curacao

Diane Cummins – Conscious Exchanges, Barbados

Nicole S. Hendrickson – Firecircle!, Trinidad and Tobago

Judith Weederburn – Jamaica

Keturah Cecelia Babb – Order of Nyahbinghi, Dominica/ Jamaica

Sendy Brown – Canada

Arielle Aska – Antigua

Patricia Sheerettan-Bisnauth – Guyana

Sharda Ganga – PROJECKTA Citizens’ Initiative for Participation and Good Governance, Suriname

Mark Jacobs – Guyana

Nadeen Spence – Jamaica

Nesha Edwards – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Catherine Sealys – Raise Your Voice, St. Lucia

Jamela Khan – Trinidad and Tobago

Carinya Sharples – Guyana

Priscila Francisco Pascoal – Brazil

Audrey Roberts – Bahamas

Emma Lewis – Jamaica

Ruth Osman Rose – Trinidad and Tobago

Beverly Nelson – Grenada

N’Delamiko Lord – Trinidad/ Barbados

Melissa Matthews – Trinidad and Tobago

Linnette Vassell – Jamaica

Bridget Lewis – Canada

Joan French – Jamaica

Ulelli Verbeke – Guyana

Jean La Rose – Guyana

Robert Cuffy – USA

Mark Moseley – Guyana

Derek Gomes – Guyana

Elton McRae – Guyana

Andrew Campbell – Guyana

John Shevrattan – Canada

Shayla Murrell – Barbados

Colin Robinson – CAISO, Trinidad and Tobago

Sasha Robinson – USA

Lisa Outar – USA

Bianca Wagner – Bahamas

Louby Georges – Rights Bahamas, Bahamas

Stephanie Stfleur – Rights Bahamas, Bahamas

Jackson Petit – Bahamas

Granville Knight – Jamaica

Jasmin Renee Wu – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago

Huiming Wu – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago

Celine Leid – JRW Foundation, Trinidad and Tobago

Ava Turnquest – Bahamas

Kevon Mc Kenna – Trinidad and Tobago

Winy Marango – Vanutu

Aroona Ramsahai – Trinidad and Tobago

Kenene Senior – Jamaica

Jean-Claude Cournand – 2 Cents Movement, Trinidad and Tobago

Mavis Mainu – Ghana

Soyini Ayanna Forde – Trinidad and Tobago

Alysia Christiani – USA

Namela Baynes-Henry – Rainbow House, Guyana

Tamisha Lee – Jamaica

Natalie Bennett – USA

Jamal Gilbert – Guyana

Rupa Singh – Guyana

Henna Guicherit – Foundation Women’s Rights Center, Suriname

Sandra Latibeaudiere – Jamaica

Shirley Pryce – Jamaica

Marion Bethel – Bahamas

Carol Narcisse – Jamaica

Nadia Sagar – Guyana

Peta- Anne Baker – UWI, Jamaica

Ruel Johnson – Guyana

Nan Peacocke – Guyana/ St. Vincent and the Grenadines/ Canada

Roslyn John – St. Vincent and the Grenadines/ Canada

Norwell Hinds – Guyana

Thomas Eugene – St. Lucia

Delven Adams – Guyana

Halimah DeShong – St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Please join us in co-signing this Statement in Solidarity with Yugge Farrell and against abuse of the Mental Health Act of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Although the gross human rights violation of Ms. Yugge Farrell ended this morning when she was finally released from the Mental Health Center of St. Vincent and the Grenadines  where she had been detained and medicated for three weeks, the potential for further abuses remains as long as the Mental Health Act of St Vincent and the Grenadines is not amended. If you would like to add your name as a signatory to this letter, please leave your name, any affiliation, and country in the comments below or email ssnageer [at] yahoo [dot] com.

image source: pinterest

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Barbados Media Treats Mental Health Issues With lack of Compassion, Understanding

Dear Editor:

I read with sorrow the news you carried of the woman who was hospitalised after walking naked in Broad Street.  But before I go further, perhaps I can first entreat that you not accompany this letter with her image as you did the story you carried.  And may I say that I understand your need to be current with the news.

As someone who lives with the occasional ill health that accompanies bi-polar disorder, I appreciate your image’s predicament.  The sense of judgement that most of you at Barbados Today and most of your readers take for granted is sometimes lost in the moments of crisis suffered by we who are diagnosed with mental ill health.

Nevertheless, we the diagnosed mentally ill live among you.  Most of us even live well as no doubt you do.  Our error is in thinking that you view us as one of you, and could depend on your empathy to shelter our moments of self harm.

Might I genuinely wish that none of you, including the many who will tout our images of nakedness on facebook and blackberries, ever share our shame and social neglect.

Guidance,

Margaret D. (Kawamuinyo) Gill

Letter to the Editor published here with permission.