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Alarming Amount of Caribbean Women Seek Refuge in Canada

Alarming Amount of Caribbean Women Seek Refuge in Canada

The tiny island-nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines may conjure thoughts of sunny, sandy beaches, but residents of the island, many of whom are female, are making up one of the largest groups to seek asylum in Canada over the last decade. Though the islands are thought of as a traveler’s haven, the nation has been enduring low trade, 22% unemployment, and growing domestic violence rates.

The tiny island-nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines may conjure thoughts of sunny, sandy beaches, but residents of the island, many of whom are female, are making up one of the largest groups to seek asylum in Canada over the last decade.

Though the islands are thought of as a traveler’s haven, the nation has been enduring low trade, 22% unemployment, and growing domestic violence rates.

One woman, 19-year-old Faith, told the Star about the violence and homophobia she faced in her home country before heading to Canada for safety. She said she experienced her first kiss from another female friend on her 14th birthday in 2006. That was the same day that she was first raped by her sole guardian, her adoptive grandfather. Her grandfather's friends then also beat and raped her. When she attempted to report the violence to the police, they told her that "I should behave and stop being a 'batty' girl." They also used local slang for antigay slurs when addressing her.

After enduring daily beatings, she eventually was able to borrow enough money to run away at age 17 in July 2010. She filed her papers for asylum soon after.

In 2010, 710 Vincentians went to Canada seeking asylum, up from 179 in 2001, and a majority are women, according to the Toronto Star. Since 2001, more than 4,500 Vincentians have come to Canada to file for refugee status, or 4.3% of the country's total population of 104,000. Proportionally, it's a higher percentage than India's and Pakistan's refugees, according to the report.

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Michelle Garcia