THE Ministry of Social Services and Community Development has expressed “grave concern” about the recent circulation of videos on social media of a man apparently engaged in sexual intercourse with an unconscious woman.
Earlier this week, police said a man was in custody in connection with this incident.
“The filming and sharing of this horrific act speaks to several problematic issues that The Bahamas continues to grapple with; the seemingly widespread acceptance of violence against women, girls and boys and the often interlinked, inappropriate use of social media,” a statement from the ministry noted.
“Violence against women and girls is the most pervasive human rights violation with one in three women, globally, experiencing physical or sexual violence in her lifetime. We all must speak out against violence against women and reverse the perception that such acts are acceptable. We must focus on appropriate, helpful and useful responses and services for survivors and not on victim blaming. The best way to end violence against women and girls is to prevent it from happening in the first place. This requires determining and addressing violence at its root. Strict and swift justice for perpetrators of such violence is crucial because it ensures justice for victims and demonstrates the government’s and society’s zero tolerance against all such acts.”
The ministry said while its departments are committed to addressing the issue, a collective approach is essential.
“Each individual has a role to play in ending violence against women and speaking out as witnesses or survivors of such violence. Communities, civil society, and even private sector organisations, should work collectively with government agencies to ensure a coordinated response to ending all forms of violence in The Bahamas.
“Additionally, greater responsibility and tact needs to be demonstrated by social media users when posting content and witnessing acts of violence. Social media can be useful, but it must also be conscientious, keeping in mind that every human being is entitled to dignity, respect and basic rights – including the right to a life free from violence. We hope that those who captured this on video refrain from such actions in the future.
“Violence against women and girls is rooted in gender-based discrimination, stereotyping and perceptions of women in society. The Department of Gender and Family Affairs has prioritised its programming to eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls. Key among their efforts is the implementation of the National Strategic Plan to Address Gender-Based Violence (GBV). To date, the department has launched the ‘Reclaiming Our Boys’ project, a violence prevention programme for boys and young men; initiated a national GBV awareness raising campaign highlighting an end to sexual harassment; and is currently in the process of reviewing draft gender-based violence legislation.”
The Department of Social Services also provides assistance necessary through its various divisions, including the Domestic Violence and Counselling Unit and Health Social Services at Princess Margaret Hospital and Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre.
These services are: crises intervention and information services for domestic violence victims; counselling to address trauma related to violence and emotional abuse; counselling to address issues related to personal and relationship challenges; assistance with acquiring domestic violence protection orders; referrals for police intervention, shelter, medical and legal services; referrals for specialised psychological counselling and home visits and follow-up for clients.
For assistance, see numbers below.
• The Domestic Violence & Counselling Unit: 323-3859/ 323-0171
• The Department of Social Services National Hotline: 322-2763 or 422-2763
• Health Social Services at the Princess Margaret Hospital: 356-3350 Sandilands Rehabilitation Centre 364-9670
• The Bahamas Crisis Centre: 328-0922