News Releases

A Call to Stop Gender-Based Violence

For Release Upon Receipt - February 9, 2021

St. Augustine

The following statement is issued by Professor Brian Copeland, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Campus Principal at The UWI St. Augustine Campus on the recent murder of two female UWI St. Augustine graduates.

It is with immense sadness that the St. Augustine Campus community of The University of the West Indies received the news of the death of Andrea Bharatt last week, the second of our graduates to have been brutally killed in Trinidad and Tobago in the first two months of 2021. Like Andrea, Suzette Sylvester – who was killed in January, pursued courses from our Institute of Gender and Development Studies (IGDS).

The fact that both women were victims of gender-based violence means that, in spite of all the work done over the decades by the IGDS, as well as the disciplines of The UWI’s Social Sciences like Criminology and Sociology, as well as the Humanities and other areas of study, much more needs to be done to eradicate this scourge that reflects one of the many ways a society can destroy itself or, at best, regress into a primal state.

There are several societal problems that manifest themselves in violence or discrimination across biological, ethnic and cultural divides. In specific regard to the issue of gender-based violence, I call on all citizens – men in particular, to take responsibility for creating and actively maintaining safe spaces for the most vulnerable in our midst. We need to call out and engage those who display disrespect for the women in our society, whether it be – for example, by issuing insulting remarks when their advances are ignored, stalking, or even entertaining songs that promote sexual violence. There is a social pact that needs to be revisited that must strongly emphasise a level of emotional maturity, tolerance and respect in our nation. This speaks to the role of parents and teachers in nurturing these and other positive characteristics in our citizens from birth.

We owe it to Andrea, Suzette, and the many victims of gender-based violence to drive a radical cultural and attitudinal change in this country. As an institution, we will continue our work to push the boundaries of policy, training and societal change in earnest.




About The UWI

For more than 70 years The University of the West Indies (The UWI) has provided service and leadership to the Caribbean region and wider world. The UWI evolved from a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948 to an internationally respected, regional university with near 50,000 students across five campuses: Cave Hill in Barbados; Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda; Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago; and an Open Campus. Times Higher Education has ranked The UWI among the top 1,258 universities in world for 2019, and the 40 best universities in its Latin America Rankings for 2018 and 2019. The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists.

As part of its robust globalization agenda, The UWI has established partnering centres with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, and Africa including the State University of New York (SUNY)-UWI Center for Leadership and Sustainable Development; the Canada-Caribbean Studies Institute with Brock University; the Strategic Alliance for Hemispheric Development with Universidad de los Andes (UNIANDES); The UWI-China Institute of Information Technology, the University of Lagos (UNILAG)-UWI Institute of African and Diaspora Studies and the Institute for Global African Affairs with the University of Johannesburg (UJ). The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food & Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities & Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science & Technology, Social Sciences and Sport. As the region’s premier research academy, The UWI’s foremost objective is driving the growth and development of the regional economy. For more, visit


(Please note that the proper name of the university is The University of the West Indies, inclusive of “The”)