Are we really serious about putting an end to sexual assault in this country? Or are we unconsciously embracing a culture of rape, incest and molestation targeting women in our society? We also recognize women with disabilities and within the LGBTQ+ society too experience sexual abuse and face barriers when attempting to seek justice. The time is ripe for a Sex Crimes Court in The Bahamas. We have to correct the mistakes of the past and right the wrongs — the time for it is now.
We must stop facilitating a culture in which it has become extremely difficult for victims of such heinous crimes to be heard, to be helped and to be supported.
The recent comments made by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Garvin Gaskin stating “roughly 36 percent of the 379 cases were discharged” is astounding. We all know that our court systems are challenged, however, there is much more that needs to be done to protect our women. We must do more as a society to end these horrible crimes and the impunity that allows these human rights violations to continue in our country. The rights of a person to live free of any form of abuse depends on the protection of their human rights and a strong chain of justice.
We must also recognize the courage it takes for a victim to report such a deeply violating and distressing event to the authority, and the many barriers faced by victims when deciding whether to report offenses relating to sexual assault — shame, guilt, fear of the process, fear of not being believed, shock, cultural context, embarrassment, language barriers and fear of reprisal from the community.
We can’t continue to remain silent while our women’s rights are being violated. We are demanding more protection and swift prosecution. Responses and hearings must be timely and efficient to end a culture of hopelessness and to foster a culture of justice and support for all victims.
The importance of prevention cannot be overstated. Moreover, we must also tackle the root causes of sexual violence and abuse in our society. The impact of these offenses on victims, their families and our communities cannot be underestimated.
Never before have we seen the coming together of survivors, non-profit organizations, advocates, activists and community leaders with a unified voice. Our cries have gotten louder. The time for complacency is long gone and belongs to another era. We won’t be silent any more.
Enough talk, enough protest, enough marches; it’s time for concrete action.
Bahamians, the message is loud and clear: “Code red, code red, code red!”
242 Domestic Violence Support Network Inc
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