Haters trying to bring me down - Contestant refuses to leave pageant despite attacks
Arrested, jailed and now imprisoned by a serious criminal allegation, Miss Jamaica World (MJW) contestant Shaneke Williams is now in a battle to remain in the prestigious pageant following a tsunami of backlash about her inclusion in this year's competition.
"It definitely gets hard at times because I am a human being, and being constantly bullied is not a nice feeling," an emotional Williams said yesterday.
Williams told THE STAR that she knew her inclusion in the pageant would have attracted a lot of public commentary. After all, it was only in 2015 that she was charged with aiding and abetting rape and sexual touching, in the alleged incident involving a 15-year-old in November 2013. The case involved former Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) candidate, Don Creary, who was charged with rape. However, the matter was dismissed by the court in March after the complainant indicated she did not wish to proceed with the case.
"I have not been able to pursue anything," said Williams, while adding that she has been on the receiving end of constant "bullying", "death threats" and "other attacks" on social media.
Those attacks intensified yesterday after Spartan Health Club, the franchise holder for Miss Jamaica World, disclosed that she is among 16 persons selected as finalists. The comments forced the franchise holder to convene a meeting with Williams yesterday at which time she was told that her continued stay in the competition is not guaranteed.
"Their concern is to investigate the matter. And, as it is right now, they are still probing the matter, and I believe that they will make a comment on it as soon as they have finalised a decision," said Williams, who was brought to tears as she spoke with THE STAR via telephone.
Contacted yesterday, Kandi King said her "only role as pageant director is to decide whether or not she will be in or out of the pageant, and no decision has been made."
Under MJW rules, a person can be a contestant as long as her "background is not likely to bring into disrepute the Miss Jamaica Beauty Pageant or MJW title or the promoter or any person associated with them."
Although she considered leaving the competition, Williams is adamant that she will not back down.
"If there is anything that I have learnt, I have certainly learnt from this experience that you have to be tough-skinned, you have to be strong, and you have to just push forward despite the negatives that you are faced with," Williams said.
Williams told THE STAR that she is saddened by some of the comments being made, and insisted that her reason for entering the competition is not to seek fame or fortune.
"I believe that at the end of the day, I have a story to be told, and this is why I decided to enter the pageant. I believe it is a platform for me to share my side of the story, to inspire others who may be experiencing a similar experience," Williams said.
"At the end of the day, this was an accusation. There was never any credible evidence. There was never a conviction. I don't have a criminal record, and at the end of the day, it really is a bit unfair to be ridiculed and to be under [such] scrutiny by society. This is certainly not the first time a situation like this has been happening, but the difference with my case is that I have more passionate haters, and they are determined to keep me down."
Williams said that she will be fighting to clear her name, even though she is convinced that "you cannot clear your name from people who don't like you."
"If someone has an opinion that you are not supposed to be representing, you are not supposed to be striving, no matter what it is that you do, they will constantly be at you," said Williams, before bursting into tears.