Prime Minister Perry Christie holds up the strategic plan for tackling gender-based violence at a press conference. Photos: Tim Clarke/Tribune Staff
By KHRISNA VIRGIL
Tribune Staff Reporter
THE Bahamas leads the Caribbean in the number of recorded rapes followed by St Vincent, the Grenadines and Jamaica, a new report by the National Task Force for Gender Based Violence revealed yesterday.
The countries were included in statistics of the top ten countries where rape is prevalent.
In addition, from 2008 to 2012, annual police reports documented 9,045 incidents where females were the victims of assault in the country. These reports also alluded to there being numerous cases of domestic violence of a non-sexual nature.
Over a 10-year period, from 2003 to 2013, there were 1,109 reported rapes, according to police statistics.
This comes after Commissioner of Police Ellison Greenslade revealed last week that rapes increased by 16 per cent in 2015 when compared to 2014.
“The issue of rape, its magnitude and impact in the country demands further attention,” the report said. “The Bahamas has the highest incidence of rape per capita in the Caribbean. The UN Woman narrative on gender-based violence in the Caribbean cites ‘while the worldwide average for rape was 15 per 100,000, The Bahamas has an average of 133, St Vincent and the Grenadines 112, Jamaica 51, Dominica 34, Barbados 25 and Trinidad and Tobago 18.” The report further pointed to a survey which revealed that in nine Caribbean countries, 48 per cent of adolescent girls’ sexual initiation was forced or somewhat forced.”
The report, which also outlines a strategic plan to address gender-based violence (GBV), was officially handed over to Prime Minister Perry Christie yesterday. It links GBV to the increasing violent crime levels in the country.
When asked how confident the government was that this report would assist in getting a handle on this country’s crime challenges, Mr Christie said he was certain that his administration was on the right path to addressing the issue.
“What my administration has found out and has confirmed is that crime is so multifaceted in its manifestation and that this report confirms it, that it takes more than a government with the right policies and the right strategies to bring about the desired results,” Mr Christie said.
“This report again goes toward providing empirical evidence, meaning there is hard evidence that some things exist. Once you know that they exist you are able to design strategies to deal with them.”
He added: “With respect to the level of confidence, I am confident that we are on the right path to dealing with all of the social problems that we have and that many of them will take much longer than even I anticipated. But the point is that we are doing the right things and making the right decisions.
“We would move to implement the report insofar as governmental action is concerned. So you heard me indicate to you that the government is already in the process of construction or reconstruction and renovations of an existing physical facility to provide young people who are a challenge in school and who challenge the system with their behaviour and challenge their families.”
He said the government will dedicate the necessary resources to help the Crisis Centre in its implementation of the recommendations.
Mr Christie added that the government will also support the creation of a foundation to involve the Bahamian people in understanding that it goes beyond government resources.
The report also recommends that a GBV Authority be established as the statutory body to ensure that the strategic plan is implemented. The authority will be charged with oversight of all GBV initiatives.
The task force recommended several other proposals that they believe the government could implement by June of this year that will yield quick visible results.
These include a national intervention for children exposed to violence; the creation of a batterer’s programme; the creation of a domestic violence fatality team and a sexual assault response team, among others.