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News > Latin America

Jamaican Gender Rights Activist Faces Cyber Crime Charges

  • An organizer for the Caribbean #lifeinleggings movement fighting violence against women, March 8, 2017.

    An organizer for the Caribbean #lifeinleggings movement fighting violence against women, March 8, 2017. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 March 2017

Days before her arrest, Latoya Nugent helped organize a march against sexual violence in Jamaica as a leader for women’s rights group Tambourine Army.

Jamaican activist Latoya Nugent was arrested just days after organizing one of the country’s first widescale protests against sexual abuse. The leader has since been released on bail, but will have to appear in court on Wednesday, March 22.

Jamaica's Tambourine Army Fights Gender Violence, Rape Culture

Nugent, co-founder of women’s rights organization Tambourine Army, was arrested Monday for violating the country’s Cybercrimes Act for publishing a list of alleged sexual predators on social media, according to Jamaica constabulary force communications officer Stephanie Lindsay.

“This charge comes as a result of her boldness in challenging the status quo by naming persons identified by their victims as sexual predators,” Tambourine Army wrote in a statement posted on their Facebook page. “She has been at the forefront of the charge to strengthen the societal response to sexual violence against women and children.”

While in jail, Nugent became ill, with those visiting her reporting that she appeared disoriented. However, when health concerns were brought to the attention of officials, Nugent was allegedly denied treatment, according to a representative from Tambourine Army.

The activist was hospitalized on Wednesday, causing her to miss her scheduled hearing. She has since been released on bail and has also been discharged from the hospital.

On the Saturday before her arrest, Nugent helped organize one of the largest mass demonstrations against sexual violence in Jamaica’s history as a leader for Tambourine Army, which describes itself as “survivor-centered, action-based” and “committed to justice, healing and empowerment for survivors, changing cultural attitudes towards sexual violence, and removing the scourge of sexual abuse, rape and all other forms of violence against women and girls.”

Life in Leggings Movement Fights Gender Violence in Caribbean

For the march, women and allies took to the streets of Kingston with tambourines, whistles, pots and pans to make noise in protest of gender violence in the Caribbean nation in response to the normalization of gender violence and victim-blaming in the country.

The Caribbean overall is home to soaring levels of violence against women, and Jamaica — along with Barbados and Bahamas — is among the 10 countries with the highest rate of rape in the world, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crimes. Nearly one-third of all women in the Caribbean have suffered domestic abuse.

The cybercrimes law which served as grounds for Nugent’s arrest was enacted in 2015 to protect citizens from a number of internet-based crimes, including revenge porn and harassment from online trolls.

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