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Monday 11 November 2019
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Trini-V’zuelan seeks to protect V’zuelan women

A Venezuelan woman heads along Knox Street, San Fernando near the Immigration Division office on June 18. PHOTO BY VASHTI SINGH
A Venezuelan woman heads along Knox Street, San Fernando near the Immigration Division office on June 18. PHOTO BY VASHTI SINGH

Narissa Fraser

A young woman of mixed parentage whose home was once Venezuela has begun working towards establishing an agency in TT to save “sexualised” Venezuelan women from exploitation.

Nalini Telemaque, 29, was prompted to take the action following increasing reports of Venezuelan women as victims of assault in TT. In April, four Venezuelan women were rescued from a fake police station in Petit Valley. They were victims of kidnapping, robbery and sexual assault. And the most recent incident occurred on Wednesday when a 19-year-old Venezuelan woman was kidnapped and fondled in Port of Spain while waiting for a taxi.

“Today, I start a small promotional agency geared towards Venezuelan young women (with basic to intermediate English). My goal is to provide the ladies with a solid form of income while keeping them from the overly sexualised odd jobs,” Telemaque told Sunday Newsday.

She says she wants to assist Venezuelan women in TT access proper jobs and prevent sexual exploitation. In a Twitter post on Thursday morning, Telemaque said Latina women are highly sexualised which often leads to exploitation, locally, and it is an issue she wants to help rectify.

She said, “We automatically associate a woman who shows off her body, or a woman who is confident in her body and wants to show it off, as someone who perhaps has less morals and values than someone else, as someone who is not educated, as someone that is lesser than, when in fact you cannot and should not associate a physical appearance with a general view or perspective of a human being. I really want to break that misconception.”

Telemaque was born in Venezuela to a Trinidadian father and a Venezuelan mother, where she lived for 13 years until her family moved to TT in 2002. She has been involved with promotional agencies since 2010 while attending the University of the West Indies, St Augustine. She said it was mostly to assist with sustenance but eventually, it became her main career path. She has worked with local organizations such as Twisted Imaginations, On The Verge, MINT Models (formerly Ace), and currently works with Nestle as a customer service specialist. She said it has all been a wonderful experience and she’s looking forward to this new venture. She will be working alongside On The Verge and Twisted Imaginations by providing brand managers for clients’ promotional executions.

“I would have forms in Spanish and English. You come and tell me about yourself, your age, your interests, photographs of yourself and so on and I will then put you on file,” she said.

“There are many aspects of it that I still have to work on but I told myself the important thing is to start. Even if I start off with three girls, four girls, it will just keep going and going.”

Asked about TT’s response to the recent influx of Venezuelans – by registering the migrants and allowing them to work for one year – Telemaque said TT is doing the best it possibly can to handle the situation with its available resources. Many of her family members are still in Venezuela and they keep in contact.

“They are surviving on a day to day basis, so long gone are the days of making groceries for the month or for the week, walking into a pharmacy and being able to get the medicine they need,” she said. She tries her best to assist when she can.

While she does not think TT fully understands the seriousness of the current crisis in Venezuela, she says it is no fault of the citizens.

“It’s really a situation that you have to live it, you have to see it to really understand it. There’s only so much different media houses can show,” she said.

“Telemaque wants full transparency in her agency. It is yet to be named, but she can currently be reached at telemaque.bookings@gmail.com or at 1868 279-1111.

“I have so much work to do. Casting, photo shoots, contracts, but I’m going to start without because I truly want to start. Often times I want everything perfect and end up dropping the ball. This time, I’m starting full force.”

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