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An apology to Sharma is betrayal of rape victims – Manickchand

Minister of Education Priya Manickchand

Minister of Education Priya Manickchand on Wednesday apologised to the National Assembly for the disruption caused by a comment she made the previous day but was adamant about not offering an apology to APNU parliamentarian Jaipaul Sharma.

During Tuesday’s session APNU Shadow Human Services Minister Volda Lawrence was urging government to do more to assist victims of sexual assault and statutory rape.  Manickchand then heckled, saying that they should “ask APNU member Sharma.”

She landed in hot water after Speaker Raphael Trotman found her reference to APNU parliamentarian Jaipaul Sharma to be distasteful.

Sharma’s father, Chandra Narine Sharma, is currently before the court for alleged sex-related offence.

The Speaker vowed that, in keeping with guidelines he issued Monday, he would not tolerate such expressions and behaviour. He urged Manickchand to apologise or she would be prevented from speaking during the debate.

Manickchand, a lawyer by profession, promptly refused to do so and has said publicly that she would not be a party to covering up a rape culture.

She addressed the House briefly before the debate began on Wednesday.

“I made a remark yesterday while Mrs. Lawrence was speaking and I wanted to make it clear that the remark was not intended to disrupt Mrs. Lawrence … and or to in any way disrupt the House and offend your Honour in any way.”

Manickchand in a note on her Facebook profile Wednesday said she understood the Speaker’s decision was informed by the guidelines he had issued previously, one of which prohibited references to a member’s family.

According to the minister, she refuses to apologise to Sharma because in doing so she would be betraying the victims of rape and pedophilia.

“I cannot abandon them just to keep the National Assembly happy,” Manickchand stated in her Facebook note. “Reprimanded I may be. Silenced, I am not,” she concluded.