Fire and brimstone are pouring down on Jumoke Castro tonight. He is the son of U.D.P. Minister Edmond Castro and tonight he is feeling the wrath of not only the general public, but of powerful unions, political parties, elected parliamentarians and of Prime Minister Dean Barrow himself. Great Belize Productions Channel Five has issued a statement saying, “We have seen and read ugly comments on social media. The most recent by the son of a minister are vile and reprehensible. It is targeted at a woman and at a journalist; it should be condemned in the strongest terms by all Belizeans. Those in office who swore to uphold the law must take action to protect Pastor Wade and his wife and ensure that those who made the threats are made to face the law.” Castro, in trying to offend Pastor Wade, targeted his wife, Shasta on Facebook with threats of sexual assault. The vile comment posted by Castro comes after Sixteen Days of Activism and is widely viewed as promoting gender-based violence. In response, Shasta wrote on her Facebook page, “I have listened to libelous and slanderous statements by U.D.P. morning show hosts against my family and my children. I understand. It comes with the territory. However, I think this is the first time I have been threatened with gang rape by a Minister’s son and I refuse to believe that this can be justified away by another entitled brat’s Cabinet Daddy!” Castro, on the other hand, has said that he never said anything about rape and did not threaten anyone. However, the party he so vehemently defends on social media issued a release expressing “grave concern over a despicable and outrageous post made on social media in which the wife of a media personality was threatened with sexual assault.” The U.D.P. says that it expects that the police will look urgently into this matter and will provide the required support if and when the family chooses to pursue the matter in the courts. The party says that there should be no place in the country for this kind of reprehensible behavior to find succor and there certainly is no place within the U.D.P. for this type of conduct. The matter was brought up in the House today.
Laura Tucker-Longsworth, Speaker of the House
“More recently a woman was attacked with a threat of rape on social media which is terrible. It tells us though what is happening in our society and we have to come together to regulate social media. We cannot continue to have these kinds of attacks on us.”
John Briceño, Leader of the Opposition
“We find it outrageous, despicable, nasty and intolerable. It should be condemned by all of us in this house and by the society on a whole. Who does this young man believes that he is? That he is entitled to be able to write such nastiness against the wife of Pastor Louis and that he can get away with it. We just ended sixteen days of activism and now here we have this young who works for the Belize Tax Services, who is paid by tax payers. That he feels that he has every right to be able to write this type of nastiness on Facebook. We are paying his salary Madam Speaker, we the tax payers.”
Prime Minister Dean Barrow
“I want to say to the Leader of the Opposition that we on this side of the House entirely share his sense of outrage, disgust and revulsion. Our party has issued a statement this morning condemning that post out of hand. I am happy to put on record in this house the fact that the members of government, the members of this administration joined with the larger party in saying that that kind of post is disgusting, entirely out of order, cannot be countenance and I repeat must absolutely and in the most unqualified and unresolved terms be condemned.”
Firestorm Follows Jumoke’s Controversial Facebook Post
There is much public outrage in the wake of revolting comments posted by Jumoke Castro on his social media page in which he threatens Plus TV’s Shasta Wade with sexual violence. That disgusting remark is being condemned in every corner, including the Public Service Union where the son of the Minister of Transport and National Emergency Management is a member. In a statement issued this afternoon, the P.S.U. expresses zero tolerance against acts and threats of violence against women. The release also succeeds an interview with Minister Godwin Hulse whose son, Kenzle, was arraigned earlier this week following an alleged domestic assault on the mother of his child in Belmopan. The threat of a gang rape to be carried out on the wife Pastor Louis Wade is most reprehensible and has also raised the ire of the Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry. In its release, also issued today, the business community condemns gender-based violence in any and all forms, including the wanton threats made via social media. The Chamber joins all other bodies that have called for urgent and necessary amendments to existing laws to protect against all forms and threats of gender-based violence.
The Christian Workers Union has also weighed in on the matter, expressing outrage and disgust by the vile comments made by Castro, stating, “that as a union representing women across the country, we find it necessary to implore those in authority to join in calling out this behavior for what it is. Our society is in peril and accepting these types of distasteful profanity only serve to further degrade our moral fabric.”
Will Charges Be Levied Against Jumoke Castro?
Pastor Louis Wade and his wife have since contacted the police department, expressing concerns over the social media comment made by Jumoke Castro. Knowing that the comment was made by a public officer, the Wades have been advised to make a formal complaint to the Public Services Commission since its regulations speak to the conduct of a public officer. But Commissioner of Police Chester Williams says that the department is in communication with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine what charges, if any, can be levied in the absence of legislation on cybercrimes.
Chester Williams, Commissioner of Police
“I was sent a Facebook post yesterday which was made by an individual towards the wife of Pastor Wade and I must say that I am very much outraged by the content of that post. If it is that the individual had a personal issue with Mister Wade, then it should be between them, but to drag Mister Wade’s wife into the fray is very unfair. No woman should be subjected to reading something like that against her. And so I have discussed the matter with Mister Wade in terms of his complaint and his wife—because they have both made complaints—and have also discussed the matter with the D.P.P. and we are looking to see what, if anything, could be done by law to address the situation. I believe we need to make a stand and send a message to those persons who continuously use social media as the vehicle to attack or to threaten other individuals. We will see, hopefully by the end of today the D.P.P. will get back to me on that matter. But let me say for the time being though that Mister Wade has also been advised to make a complaint to the Public Services Commission because under the public service regulation it speaks to the issue of the conduct of public officers and the individual who made the comment is a public officer. And so I believe that there is something that the Public Services Commission can do to be able to bring some remedy to Mister Wade and his wife for the content of that post. We will see how that is going to work out. I think at the very least, the Public Services Commission should be able to do something if we cannot find something under the law because the law does make provision for threat to life and threat to damage property, but in terms of threat to raping a woman, that’s where the gray area is.”