Dress code

Mayor ignites outrage by blaming woman’s Carnival killing on “lewd behavior”

Asami Nagakiya (R). (Facebook/Mariah Rodriguez)

Outraged residents of Port of Spain in Trinidad are calling for the mayor there to resign after he seemed to blame the brutal killing of a 30-year-old Japanese musician on what she was wearing. On Ash Wednesday, the body of Asami Nagakiya, a professional musician from Japan, was discovered under a cluster of bushes in a park where festivities had been held a day earlier. A witness who discovered Nagakiya’s body, still wearing the yellow bikini she wore during Carnival, told news reporters that she had suffered a laceration on her elbow, black and blue marks around her waist, and that it looked like a rape and murder had occurred. Authorities said an autopsy revealed Nagakiya died by strangulation and have yet to make a determination about whether she’d been raped. Shocked locals and tourists tried to process news of the gruesome crime. Nagakiya had come to celebrate Carnival in Port of Spain for several years, a detail that seemed to touch many of the people there — friends and strangers alike, according to reports. One friend, Mariah Rodriguez, wrote in a post on Facebook, “Life is so unfair 💔 This young lady loved our culture and people, and someone took that away from her…you monsters disgust me!”

Asami Nagakiya was a professional musician from Japan. (Facebook)

Asami Nagakiya was a professional musician from Japan. (Facebook)

But as people tried to make sense of the tragedy, the city’s mayor, Raymond Tim Kee, sparked outrage with remarks that struck many as victim shaming and an insensitive case of “I told you so.” Kee reportedly said, “You know before Carnival I did make a comment about vulgarity and lewdness. The woman has the responsibility to ensure that [she is] not abused.” He continued in that vein speaking to reporters, and ultimately, rather than expressing condolences over Nagakiya’s killing, expressed dismay about the “embarrassment” the tragic crime was for the city.

Not surprisingly, Kee’s remarks were met with a fierce backlash. Many accused him of sexism in addition to victim blaming. He attempted damage control and apologized that his comments were “completely misconstrued,” but instead of leaving it there, he began reiterating his original point about the corrosive nature of Carnival culture. By Friday, an online petition calling for his resignation had racked up more than 8,000 signatures. Amid all of the controversy over the mayor’s remarks, locals in Port of Spain found a touching way to pay tribute to Nagakiya.

Read the full story at The Washington Post.

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