NASSAU, BAHAMAS – The lack of dedicated spaces for shelter inhabitants to have consensual sex was flagged as a special area of concern in a recent Ministry of Health (MOH) Situation Report.
The report, dated October 25, outlines the delivery of health care services to those impacted by Hurricane Dorian and points to several sexual and reproductive health (SRH) problems identified by the ministry and its partners.
Among those issues noted are the “potential risks for unwanted pregnancy”, and the lack of “identified spaces dedicated to accommodate consensual coitus among shelter inhabitants”.
The report noted while 60 boxes of condoms were dispersed at all shelter sites, safe sexual spaces have still not been identified.
It called for “further discussion required with family planning methods on shelter sites”.
“Kendal Isaacs Gym Shelter [is] not encouraging or providing private spaces for sexual activity,” the report read.
“No place of identification at Calvary H. Baptist Church shelter for private sexual activity. Pastors are unwilling to provide a space [and] the box of condoms shared for the shelter were not accepted.”
However, the report noted the church shelter was expected to close last week and those individuals would be amalgamated with the shelter population at the gymnasium.
An earlier MOH report outlined similar concerns expressed by the United Nations Population Fund on Gender Based Violence (UNFPA GBV), regarding the access to SRH services by those in shelters.
“Condoms and DepoProvera were the most required family planning methods, but women in the shelters said they couldn’t access them,” the October 1 report noted.
“…The importance of STI service provision, including treatment, was recognized as people are sexually active even during the emergencies. The process for maternal care was outlined as well as procedures for emergency (deliveries), the emergency ambulance can be called, while from the islands, the emergency flight can be scheduled immediately.”
Steps have been taken to address these issues. The latest report also outlines resolutions or actions taken to address the concerns.
The document notes that a new incoming UNFPA representative would like to have a training session to encourage sexual health.
“The need for informing shelter managers was stressed that despite personal opinions and preferences, the need to ensure private and safe sexual activity is happening for the respect of the entire shelter population and protection/ safeguarding/ no access for the children,” it added.
According to the National Emergency Management Agency, there were 796 people living in six shelters across New Providence as of Friday.