Responding to recent United Nations recommendations on how Bahamas’ can improve its human rights record, Opposition senator Darren Henfield said Bahamians are “tired” of external forces like the UN telling us what to do.
Human Rights Bahamas (HRB) is unsure of how the Senator conducted his research in order to feel able to speak for all Bahamians in this way. Indeed, we know for certain that his statement does not reflect the views of many citizens and residents, particularly those who have been victims of human rights abuses.
Mr Henfield objects to outside influences seeking to “force upon us” their own standards. However, the pursuit of ideas like protecting people from violence, shielding the vulnerable from discrimination and guaranteeing equal treatment for every individual, are not arbitrary notions from an alien culture. Rather, they are the universal, non-negotiable basis for any decent, fair and civilized society, in any place and at any time throughout human history.
The top five points of the UN recommendations to which Mr Henfield objected, concerned: criminalizing marital rape, gender-based violence, a moratorium death penalty, equality in the transmission of citizenship and asylum and trafficking in persons.
While all five of the points may affect Bahamian women, three of them do so directly and almost exclusively. Women make up more than half the population of The Bahamas and are by far the largest group to face active casual as well as official discrimination on an ongoing basis.
As such, the cause of gender equality cannot be seen as an imposition by an external entity; rather it is a fundamental principle for strengthening our society and fostering a fair and inclusive environment for all. As an organization committed to promoting human rights and social progress, HRB firmly believes that guaranteeing gender equality is necessary for the creation of a healthy society going forward.
Violence against women remains a pervasive issue globally, and The Bahamas is no exception. To dismiss the urgency of preventing violence against women and highlighting the need for legal frameworks to protect them is to ignore the numerous cases of abuse, discrimination, and inequality that many Bahamian women face on a daily basis. It is our collective duty to work towards eradicating gender-based violence and ensuring the safety and well-being of every individual in our society.
Additionally, the denial of citizenship rights to women and the refusal to allow them to pass on citizenship to their children is an outdated and discriminatory practice that hinders the progress and development of our nation. By embracing equal citizenship rights for women, we empower them to contribute fully to the growth of our country, economically, socially, and culturally.
We strongly urge Senator Henfield and all stakeholders in our society to recognize the importance of promoting gender equality, preventing violence against women, and rectifying existing discriminatory practices. Only through a united effort can we create a future where all individuals, regardless of gender, can thrive and realize their full potential.
Human Rights Bahamas remains committed to championing the rights of women and advocating for an inclusive society that embraces equality and justice for all. We call upon all Bahamians to join us in this mission and work towards a brighter and more equitable future.
Human Rights Bahamas