“EVERYONE’S BUSINESS”: Govt. forms task force to address gender-based violence in wake of murder-suicide

“EVERYONE’S BUSINESS”: Govt. forms task force to address gender-based violence in wake of murder-suicide
On Wednesday, January 26, 2022, family members of 21-year-old Heavenly Terveus, religious leaders, the police and residents in the surrounding community of Miami Street in Englerston gather for a candlelight vigil in memory of the young mother who was shot to death by her fiancée on Saturday, January 22, 2022.

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Minister of State for Social Services Lisa Rahming yesterday outlined several measures her ministry intends to take to begin tackling the issue of gender-based violence throughout the country in the aftermath of a murder-suicide of a young couple.

Loved ones, religious leaders, the police, and residents in the surrounding community of Miami Street in Englerston gathered last night for a candlelight vigil in memory of 21-year-old mother Heavenly Terveus, who was shot to death by her fiancée over the weekend.

Earlier in the day, Rahming told reporters that her ministry has partnered with several local NGOs to put steps in place to fight against the growing problems surrounding domestic abuse.

“They want to help us, they want to assist because they realize the government cannot do it by itself,” she said.

“We are going to pool together as it relates to halfway houses for these women. Of course, we cannot expose where these places will be and in the midst of that, we’ve already put together a task force that will be doing an intense training on domestic violence.”

She noted that representatives from Social Services Gender and Family Department, the Bahamas Crisis Centre, and the police will be present on Friday for the session.

“Most of the persons who make up the task force are considered community relations representatives. These individuals will be responsible on a regular basis to go into the community on a daily basis with a survey form.

“We are now trying to find out who is being abused in whichever way, whether it’s mental, sexual, physical, or whatever way.

“We realize that persons are afraid, they’re embarrassed, they are not coming forward. So we are now taking a proactive approach and we are going to them before this tragic thing happens again.”

On Saturday night, Heavenly Terveus, 21, was found shot to death in front of her one-month-old baby boy while lying next to her fiancé Fenron Delano Ferguson, who allegedly turned the gun on himself after killing her.

The family of the young mother said they believe if police had intervened after reports of harassment were made just days earlier, she may have still been alive.

The tragedy is just the latest in a series of public incidents of domestic violence in the country.

Rahming said: “It’s so sad. We wish we could save everyone but we are going to do as much as we can to go into the community to reach these persons.”

Rahming said the government does intend to move legislation for gender-based violence, adding the current bill needs amendments.

She said she hopes that bill could be tabled within the next few months.

However, Rahming insisted that the public must also do its part in bringing attention to these occurrences.

“Every time something tragic happens, it’s so easy to place blame or point fingers,” she said.

“I am going to say my ministry, we are going to point at ourselves and say what can we do more, what am I not doing or what should I do to stop these incidents from happening.”

”Let’s not point fingers….What we need to do is if we know as individuals in society, of somebody being hurt, being threatened, but we remain silent, you are just as much as to blame as the police who you believe in your mind is not taking a proactive approach.

“So it’s everyone’s business,” Rahming added.

About Sloan Smith

Sloan Smith is a senior digital reporter at Eyewitness News, covering a diverse range of beats, from politics and crime to environment and human interest. In 2018, Sloan received a nomination for the “Leslie Higgs Feature Writer of The Year Award” from The Bahamas Press Club for her work with Eyewitness News.