Did the system also fail Chriselle?

Police and medical personnel on crime scene.

Curious residents milled about the scene of the island’s most recent homicides on Monday most still in disbelief that such a horrendous crime had been committed in their community. Police have confirmed the deaths of 16-year-old Chriselle Fanis originally from Micoud and her one-year-old daughter Tekeisha Fanis. Police also said Chriselle was four months pregnant.
For one Bois Patat resident who spoke to the STAR, the shock was just as a result of crime having hit home for them yet again; what was most upsetting was the nature of the crime, and the fact that it involved a teenager, her daughter and unborn child, losing their lives in the most violent way.
“There’s more to that story than meets the eye,” Neighbours told the STAR before venturing into individual tales of the early morning happenings.
“My cousin woke me up and the first thing she said was the girl and her child had been killed and she told me to come. I flew off the bed and went out and then I saw the girl’s boyfriend. He was bleeding.”

Sixteen-year-old Chriselle Fanis and her daughter were found dead on Monday. Police report that Chriselle was pregnant when she was killed.

Neighbours described the scene in the small bedroom the couple shared that was part of the boyfriend’s father’s home.
“I went inside the house and I saw the girl laying on the bed and the little child laying by her,” neighbour Lena Auguste continued. “The paramedics guy came, he had his gloves on and he just tried to shift her body, then he left
. . . I started screaming.”
“I never thought this would happen in our neighbourhood,” said another. “There is crime and all but never a double, or triple murder. I never thought this would happen so close by.”
Chriselle’s stepmother Lisa Charles said she’d gotten the dreaded phone call early Monday morning. There have been several different reports concerning Chriselle’s age, but Lisa Charles said she’d taken care of Chriselle and her twin sister Chrisella for 15 years and they were now 16. The girls’ biological mother reportedly resides in Barbados and as she spoke about Chriselle the girl’s stepmother put some of the blame on herself.
“She was kind, she had her own ways but . . . somewhere in life we fell short,” said a distressed Charles. “Today that’s what we’re hearing. She has a twin sister and they were extremely close. I raised them from small. I feel very bad, like my heart just . . .” she trailed off.
“As of now I have no heart. To me I raised them and to me I fall short somewhere. If I didn’t fall short she would have been here today,” Chriselle’s stepmother said bursting into tears.
“She would have been here,” she continued composing herself. “I sent her to school, I did my best for her. Her mother is overseas and her mother can say that. To me I feel my heart just go. That’s piece of my life that’s gone. Her father and me went through a lot, honestly with them . . . but that’s just how it had to happen. I feel I blame myself too. She’s my stepdaughter. Baby Tekeisha was a joy. Loving . . . and
from the time you see her, little miss big woman. I guess life . . . ”
Charles said she wasn’t aware of any problems between Chriselle and her boyfriend.
“She’d always come by my home to have lunch every Sunday and that’s just how it is,” the girl’s stepmother said.             “I don’t really know anything about the guy. He would come by my home and eat. One thing about Chriselle, she’s not a person who would ever back down. A “war monger” self.”
Police report that Chriselle and her young daughter both suffered multiple stab wounds. The incident occurred about 11pm on Sunday, March 11 and police reports indicate that her 24-year-old boyfriend also sustained stab wounds to the abdomen and is currently in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Victoria Hospital.
“We’re getting reports that someone came into the house and stabbed them,” press relations officer Trevor Constantine told the STAR.                 “That is unconfirmed. The boyfriend was stabbed as well and he is still in Intensive Care at Victoria Hospital. We’re in the process of interviewing persons for information
so we can make a determination. An investigation is underway.”
Immediately after the story was posted to the STAR online, one reader questioned: “Why was she not protected after she fell pregnant the first time as she was underage? Why did the social services and the family not step in? Is statuory rape not an enforced law here?”
His concerns were somewhat addressed in an interview featuring representative for the Caribbean Feminist Research and Action (CAFRA) Flavia Cherry and Director of Gender Relations Charms Gaspard on Radio Caribbean International’s NewsSpin program on Monday.
With International Women’s Day just past, the gravity of the situation regarding the teen, her baby daughter and unborn child resounds even more strongly. Cherry and Gaspard took the opportunity to offer condolences to the
families of the victims and perpetrator, and the entire community.
“When things like that happen it is not isolated, it affects everyone,” Gaspard said. “The entire country feels the pain and we really want to say our sympathies go out to them and we continue as a government agency to be there, to be supportive and to offer the services that we can.”
CAFRA’s representative said the situation was “sad, distressing and very disturbing.”
“When situations like that come about you really reflect and ask yourself questions because despite all the work that has been done in terms of awareness and intervention that something like this can happen,” Cherry commented.             “We really need to do some serious introspection as a society as to why these things happen. We cannot continue to have the usual reaction of ‘Oh my God this is what happened.’ We need to recognize at times like this that something is very wrong with our society. We really need to take an honest
look at it and come together in a very realistic way to see how we can deal with these issues.
“People will call and condemn, say it’s wrong then everyone will go back to business as usual,” Cherry went on. “It really cannot be business as usual when a small country like St Lucia can experience such levels of violence that are evident in so many of our communities.
“We really need to realize we have a problem and do something about it. I think it needs to be a holistic approach of bringing everyone together. In communities where there appears to be more violence, we need to be able to take a closer look, not only at the community but also at the wider society. Why is it that certain people who
live in certain communities are so vulnerable? Why it is that so many people fall so far from any kind of safety net? Why it is that that you have young people, who haven’t reached the age of consent openly having kids, and there’s no system that captures this, or deals with the vulnerability before it gets totally out of hand? When you really look at it is our children that are engaged in that type of behaviour. Everybody that is involved grew up in this society so we have nurtured the result that we see today. We cannot continue to just be calling for condemnation.
“I think at this point we have to be very honest, and come together to find ways where we can create the kind of receptive and realistic safety nets that will minimize these types of situations.”
Gaspard reiterated her sentiments and added: “I think it really has to start at the individual level. We really have to recognize there is a problem and continue not only to have the public outcry at one point in time. We need to create a society where there is a zero tolerance. We have to continue making perpetrators of such acts know it is not accepted and send that message strongly, lobby our legislators to strengthen the legislation where necessary and also get familiar with the support services that are available.”
This case reminds of so many others in St Lucia, including the still unresolved Verlinda Joseph murder case, where at least one person in authority had admitted that the system had failed young Verlinda. Somehow there is the lingering feeling that the system has also failed Chriselle.
As we go to press a post mortem is being conducted on the body of 16-year-old Christelle and her daughter. Her boyfriend is still at the hospital.

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