EDITOR, The Tribune.
Please allow us the space in your newspaper to respond to the remarks made by MP for Tall Pines Leslie Miller last week Thursday in the House of Assembly and the events that followed.
We find it absolutely unacceptable and inexcusable that an MP would boldly make statements about abuse enacted against a former partner. It is further injurious to laugh about such a thing, and encourage others to do the same.
The raucous laughter which came in response to Miller’s heinous remarks cannot be overlooked, and must be rebuked as much as the comments themselves. To laugh and fail to stop Miller’s disrespectful speech is to rub salt in the wounds of the many domestic violence victims in this country. Every member of parliament present at the time of Miller’s remarks should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves for their cowardice and/or ignorance of women’s issues.
The silence of the Minister of Social Services – a supposed women’s issues advocate – and all other women, husbands, fathers, and brothers is reprehensible.
In response to the backlash of irate members of the public, Miller claimed that he was joking, and suggested that we all should have known. Speculating on whether or not the story he told was truthful or fabricated purely for effect and/or entertainment would not serve to move this conversation forward. At this point, it is important for Miller to note that his excuse is not acceptable. On the contrary, it does further damage, proving that he believes the issue of violence against women - ever-present in this country - is one for entertainment.
Violence against women is never funny, no matter the angle or intent.
We call upon members of parliament and citizens of this country to consider the impact of Miller’s statements and the response – or lack thereof – from his colleagues on victims of domestic violence.
Women already find it difficult to report domestic abuse for various reasons, including shame, guilt, and fear that they will not be believed or taken seriously. Something must be done to repair the damage that has been done by every member of parliament.
Trivialising domestic violence is insulting – and potentially demoralising – to all women who have been victims of physical assault. Such display of desensitisation to the issue of domestic violence which plagues this country is unacceptable and cannot go without reproach.
We call upon the people of The Bahamas to continue in the outcry against what has been allowed to occur in the House of Assembly. We cannot allow this to become another incident that eventually fades into the background, unaddressed and soon to be forgotten. The lives of many women are at stake.
HollaBack! Bahamas – set to officially launch mid-April 2014 – refuses to sit silently as those in positions of power seem satisfied to do. Though street harassment is our main focus, we will make resources on the subjects of domestic violence and rape available through our website, social media, and partner organisations. We will champion the cause of victims of violence, regardless of the form it takes. We will record, report, map, and share stories of this kind to expose the intimidation attempts of perpetrators of violence.
March 6, 2014