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Marital Rape Law Veto 'To Kill Dna'

By KHRISNA VIRGIL kvirgil@tribunemedia.net BRANVILLE McCartney's declaration that he does not believe women should be legally protected from being raped by their husbands will come back to haunt the DNA leader at the polls, Social Development Minister Loretta Butler-Turner said yesterday. Mrs Butler-Turner was responding to Mr McCartney's comments on the TV programme Citizen's Review, hosted by Erin Ferguson. When asked if the Marital Rape Bill would be passed by a DNA government, Mr McCartney said: "No, sir. When you get married to a person, you are one." The host suggested to him that in the Bahamas, there are high levels of domestic violence, a leading cause of murder. But Mr McCartney said there are already laws to protect wives from violence, but rape in a marriage is too hard to prove. "When at the end of the day, you are sleeping in the same bed as your wife or spouse, you become one in that regard, and rape is very difficult to prove, especially as sexual intercourse is a part of marriage." Mr Ferguson pointed out that an act should not necessarily be accepted, just because it is hard to prove, but Mr McCartney said: "I don't think it should be illegal. I maintain that. I don't think there should be an Act or law for raping a spouse." The Bill in the form introduced by the FNM would see a man imprisoned from seven years to life for having sex with his wife without her consent. Praising her party's support for the Act, Mrs Butler-Turner said the FNM has always been a strong supporter of women's rights and empowerment. "We are the only party that stood behind it and we tabled it. If no other party wants to support it and the rights of women in this country, then I am sure it will come to their own detriments,"she said. Mr McCartney's position has also stunned staff at the Crisis Centre for Women and women's rights advocate Dr Sandra Dean-Patterson. Donna Nicolls, volunteer counsellor at the Crisis Centre, said the DNA leader's "uninformed statement" was unfortunate and speaks to his lack of understanding on the issue. "For somebody who wants to become leader with approximately 50 per cent of women constituting the population, it is very troubling to me. "I don't think he knows the impact of being in a marriage and then being raped by your husband. We also invite him to have dialogue with us." Dr Patterson added she was amazed that the DNA leader would take a position that does not support women in a marriage having the same rights as persons who are victims of assault. Both women agree that Mr McCartney should do more research on the matter before he voices his opinion on the national stage. A heated national debate was sparked after the amendment was introduced to parliamentarians by Mrs Butler-Turner in July 2009. At that time, Mrs Butler-Turner noted that the law was outdated. She said that spousal rape had long been outlawed in many other countries. Since then human rights group, Amnesty International, vowed to back the amendment of the Sexual Offences Act to protect the rights of every Bahamian woman.

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