NASSAU, BAHAMAS – Minister of Social Services Frankie Campbell put out a challenge to Bahamian men and women to join efforts as the country moves to end gender-based violence by 2030.
Campbell’s comments came on the heels of the launch of the Sixteen Days of Activism for the Elimination of Violence Against Women and Girls.
“The move to empower women, the move to end gender-based violence, is not a move in competition with men,” said Campbell as he addressed Parliament last Wednesday.
“It’s not a move to set aside the responsibility or the roll of our men, but actually it is a movement to partner with our men.
“It is move to ensure that our men have partners who are psychologically fit because they are not traumatized by violence, who are physically fit because they are not hurting from physical abuse, who are feeling equal and feeling prepared to partner for the task.
“…I invite The Bahamas, women and men, to make time to be a part of this movement, to make time to ensure that they are aware and conscience, to make sure that the sensitization increases, that the enthusiasm builds during these 16 days and they will overflow during the rest of the year.”
Campbell noted that the 16 days will end on December 10, which is International Human Rights Day.
“The whole question of gender-based violence is a human rights issue,” he said.
“…The government supports zero tolerance to gender-based violence in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”
A 2016 report by the National Task Force for Gender Based Violence revealed that, “Three of the top 10 recorded rape rates in the world occur in the Caribbean. The Bahamas leads the Caribbean followed by St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica.”
The report noted that over 6,000 incidents of gender-based violence were reported in The Bahamas between 2003 and 2013.
In March, Eyewitness News Online revealed that there were a combined 669 rape cases to Princess Margaret Hospital (PMH) and 68 presented to the Rand Memorial Hospital in Grand Bahama between July 1, 2013, and December 31, 2018, according to the Emergency Room Utilization Trend report for the Rand and the Accident and Emergency Statistical Analysis report for PMH.
During the opening of the Legal Year, Acting Chief Justice Vera Watkins called for the establishment of a sexual offenses court, noting that victims of these crimes frequently withdraw their official complaints as a result of delays in the court system.
In January, Police Commissioner Anthony Ferguson said increased police presence in known hotspots is expected to impact the apprehension of sexual predators.
In its February advisory, the United States Department of State cautioned American citizens visiting The Bahamas to exercise increased caution, noting that armed robberies, sexual assaults and burglaries remain “common, even during the day and in tourist areas”.
Englerston MP Glenys Hanna-Martin, who also addressed Parliament on the matter, urged women to continue the fight against abuse.
“Women have to always be cognizant that we have much ground to cover and that we must continue the sustained effort,” Hanna-Martin said.
“We know that we’re the largest in the electorate but we know also, despite that, we continue to be most represented living in poverty.
“We continue to heading households singularly, raising children and facing all the challenges that come with that and we continue to be those who are the targets most of domestic violence at risk in our own homes and with partners.
“We continue to be most vulnerable with sexual violence and so these are very serious devastating realities that we must keep in the fore of our minds and continue to struggle.”
For his part, Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis pledged the government will do all it can to ensure the decrease in gender-based violence throughout the country.
Minnis pointed to the practice of women engaging in sexual favors for workplace advancement.
“We want to reassure them that the government will do all it can to ensure that violence in the workplace and violence in the homes generally decrease,” he said, as he began his contribution to the debate on the Electricity Rate Reduction Bond Bill, 2019.
“And as far as women having to engage in sexual favors for advancement in the workplace, we will eradicate that and ensure that those male beasts are placed where they rightfully deserve.”