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Who Said What?

In this recap of the spousal rape debate, see comments made by Bahamian leaders when the amendment was proposed in 2009. Those who supported the amendment? Charlene Paul, Kingdom Women in Business: "To protect the rights of the wife, the home and the children, I believe the individual should be legally protected if one party, and the male in this case, is not prepared to morally uphold the rights of the individual. If a wife says 'no' it can be for very good reasons, which could range from the husband being intoxicated, or contaminated based on other relationships." (Ms Paul is now a candidate in the Elizabeth Estates Constituency for the Democratic National Alliance) Janet Bostwick, first woman elected as a Member of Parliament: "I think it is most definitely long overdue. I can understand the concern from certain bodies, particularly with regard tot he expression of concern by pastors. Perhaps if they sat in my chair in which I sat for a number of years as a female lawyer and heard the horrendous stories of forced rape of spouses; men forcing their wives to do unnatural sexual acts and intercourse; forcing them in circumstances where the husband is inebriated, and forcing them after informing them that they have come from being with some other person, and demanding their right." Dr David Allen, leading psychiatrist: "I just feel that it is part of our development. Obviously one has to make sure they have a court system that judges fairly, but I don't see how we can turn the clock back - women have a sense of their boundaries. Part of the development process is where people have boundaries, within marriage or outside of marriage." Dr Sandra Dean Patterson, Bahamas Crisis Center: "It is important for us to speak to the fact that sexual violence is not acceptable whether the person is a stranger to you, a relative, a girlfriend or boyfriend, or husband or wife; you are naming a behaviour that is unacceptable and wrong." Pastor Leonard Johnson, president of the Seventh-Day Adventists: "I believe that the proposed amendment to the Sexual Offences Act is one that seeks to protect a spouse by introducing a clause pertaining to rape within marriage and deserves consideration and support. Essentially, if couples respect each other there is no need to have concern about the proposed amendment. However, when the spirit of selfishness and anger or hate is at work problems can be expected." Roman Catholic Archbishop of Nassau Patrick Pinder: "Marital life, of which conjugal love is an essential aspect, must reflect the reality of this intimate union of life and love. This love is to be above all fully human, that is to say, a compound of sense and spirit, reflecting each party's free gift of self to the other. It is also to be an act of free will, whose trust is meant not only to survive but to grow. This love of spouses for each other is to reflect, totally, a personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything. In Marriage man and woman become husband and wife and they love each other not only for what one can give the other but each loves the other for his or her own sake. This means each respecting the unique dignity of the other as a human being and as an equal partner before the Lord." Sitting on the fence Bishop Simeon Hall, New Covenant Baptist Church: "I want every woman in the Bahamas to feel protected whether she is single or married, but at the same time we must be careful because we have some devious women around the place. So I think the widest discussion should be held on this and we should hear both sides. I think I am more for it than not, but I want us to be careful that we are not opening Pandora's box, certainly for women who ought not to get back at a man and abuse this law." Pastor Allan Lee of Calvary Bible Church: "I am in a yes/no situation depending on how it is worded. We can't import the philosophies of others. We are a nation of our own." Sam Greene, pastor at Zion Baptist Church, Yamacraw: "As a pastor I have had any number of females who complain of being abused both physically and sexually by their husbands. I don't know that it would warrant legislation being changed but at the same time I think something ought to be done to discourage that kind of behaviour on behalf of a spouse, such as education. When as a marriage officer we pronounce them man and wife and say 'twain shall be one flesh', certainly more education is needed so men understand that although a woman is your wife and the Bible might say you are one flesh that you have no right to abuse her physically, sexually or otherwise." Those who opposed the amendment? Pastor Cedric Moss, Kingdom Life Church: "It makes sense to have such a law to govern sexual intercourse between two persons who are not married to each other because unlike married people they have no contract that implies open-ended sexual consent; therefore specific moment by moment consent is required between them. But can it be right to bring married people under such a law designed for unmarried people? No, and a thousand times no. Each day you will be a potential rapist in your own home if you initiate sex with your wife without her consent. The truth is that under such an amendment, based on the new definition of rape, a society of rapists will be the result." Rev Patrick Paul, Bahamas Christian Council: "Marital rape is very intricate, and a multi-dimensional subject that has the potential of leveling far-reaching and cross-generational affects on any western society built on Judaic-Christian principles. The impact and implications of such a law would be incalculable." Myles Munroe, founder of Bahamas Faith Ministries International: "The legal marital covenant creates the context for sexual intimacy and protects the individual's right to sexual intimacy from interference by the law or government. However, the principle concern here is not the sexual act, but rather the conditions and physical activities that preceded and led to the actual act. If the activities preceding the sexual act are considered acts of force, violence, abuse and unreasonable pressure in the context of marriage, then this can be considered domestic violence, and if it ends in sexual intercourse, then it could and perhaps should be considered rape. There are laws already on the books that address the issue of domestic violence and laws that address the issue of rape."

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