NASSAU, BAHAMAS — In lieu of National Women’s Day, an abused victim voiced her frustration with the government for not prioritizing women’s rights during CARICOM.
During the three-day Caribbean Community and Common Market (CARICOM) meeting, food security, renewable energy, and climate change advocacy were all major priorities to be addressed, however, women’s rights were not listed on the agenda.
“It is frustrating because it makes you feel like you don’t have a voice like you’re being silenced.”
She added that religion was a key factor in why women’s rights continue to be unaddressed in the country.
“Religion is 100 percent the reason why women still fight for alienable rights. Women are always told to be seen and not heard,” she stated.
The mother found herself in need of shelter after she claimed to be abused by her partner for months. She described this period as one of the most difficult periods as she searched for a safe house or an apartment to find refuge, but was unsuccessful.
She said: “It’s a very scary experience. There is only so much hiding that could happen in this small country.”
“It felt as if I was going to die. Not by his hand, but just the end of it.”
“Imagine how difficult it is when you set your life up with someone and to know that now you basically walk away with nothing.”
She told Eyewitness News that the country is too small to maintain a safe house, but a temporary shelter is ideal.
“When I sought assistance from the government, every time a new person was asking me to send the same information I sent before. This made me back down from getting assistance,” she said.
In a previous interview, FOAM director Khandi Gibson urged the government not to ignore the lack of abuse shelters available for battered women in the Commonwealth.
“We have a good number of women in Parliament and if they can’t feel our pain, God help us.”
“Where do families go in this country when they need help,” she said.
The director spoke about what she hoped to see addressed by the government and asserted that women require significant attention since they are the most marginalized in the country.
“Women need shelter, they need protection, they need safe houses. Even a 24hr daycare facility.”
“If we give them a safe house and that safe house provides them with skills and knowledge they can prepare for the world out there,” she informed Eyewitness.
Gibson revealed that the issue is personal for her because she knows what it’s like to reach out for help and be giving a blind eye to the matter.
“We elect people in power whose only time of doing charity work is before the election. We need to elect people who care.”
“You can’t advise them of nothing because they don’t listen to anybody. They think only they know. At the end of the day, when they’re sitting up in their office we are the ones dealing with the broken people, we are the ones dealing with the marginalized.”
She advised that a domestic violence unit should be available in every station in the Commonwealth.
Additionally, she asserted that the Complaints and Corruption department should be a separate entity from the Royal Bahamas Police Force.
She added that there are many women suffering from domestic abuse at the hands of people in authority, which makes the decision to use the police department unreasonable.
“When a female lives with someone above the law and a situation occurs they can’t report him, which is why police should never be allowed to investigate police.
Currently, women who seek assistance are housed in hotels throughout the capital.
Gibson told Eyewitness News that she provides a shelter for women, however, there is only so much she can do with the space she owns, and pleaded with other organizations to support her initiative.