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Time To Charge Marital Rapists

By RASHAD ROLLE

Tribune Staff Reporter

rrolle@tribunemedia.net

STATE Minister for Legal Affairs Elsworth Johnson supports enacting legislation that criminalises marital rape, he said yesterday.

Although he could not comment on the government’s official position on the matter, he said he “holds fast to (his) belief” that “sexual intercourse without consent in any form is rape.”

His statement came two days after United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Dubravka Šimonovic addressed the hot-button issue in a press conference where she said the legality of marital rape in The Bahamas is “a sign that something is deeply wrong.”

Ms Šimonovic is expected to present her report on the status of human rights in the country when she addresses the UN Human Rights Council in June. Her report will focus on women and children.

Mr Johnson said a landmark Privy Council case in 1991 called “R v R” made the convincing case for criminalising spousal rape.

“(In that case) Lord Keith stated the decision was made on marital rape because the times have changed and we have to move with it,” he told The Tribune on Sunday. “Cave man days are over where a lady is seen as property and her body, her will and right to choose belongs to her owner. You don’t own anybody.”

He said legislation criminalising marital rape, if brought, should be consistent with penalties on the books now for rape, including the possibility of life in prison for the people convicted.

The Ingraham administration aimed to criminalise all forms of marital rape in 2009 but the plan faced immense pushback and prompted uproar from religious leaders and many Bahamians. The Marital Rape Bill was ultimately shelved.

Nonetheless, Ms Šimonović revealed Friday that in her discussions with the Office of the Attorney General she understood that “necessary revisions are currently under consideration.” Attorney General Carl Bethel could not be reached yesterday for his comment. In 2013, then-Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson told the Human Rights Council in Geneva that the Christie administration was considering criminalising marital rape, but no decision appeared to have been made during the previous term.

And while the Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) opposed the Ingraham administration’s efforts to outlaw spousal rape, former BCC President Dr Ranford Patterson said in 2013 that the organisation would support such legislation if emerges again. However, later that year some pastors were up in arms over false rumours the Christie administration’s amendments to the Sexual Offences Act would sneak in provisions that criminalise marital rape, highlighting the religious community’s divide on the issue as recently as 2013.

Yesterday current BCC president Bishop Delton Fernander said he would not give his personal view but will poll members of his organisation to see what their current position is.

As a physician, Health Minister Dr Duane Sands said yesterday he encountered women who were sexually abused in the context of their marriage.

“It is not lost on me that there is significant controversy about the issue of rape within the context of marriage,” he said. “That has been a matter that has created a firestorm, debate, discussion, commentary but it is a matter that has to be ventilated publicly and not just because the international community is looking, but because we want to do what is right for the people of the Bahamas.”

Deputy Director of the Crisis Centre Donna Nicholls said marital rape is prevalent in the Bahamas. Women, she said, seek counseling and call the centre’s hotline for help but do not come out publicly with their stories.

“The perception in the country keeps women trapped,” she said. “The silence enables the behaviour along with the concept that once you’re married your body belongs to your spouse. We have to disrupt the dysfunctional narrative and see this for what it is. It’s a real thing that affects the lives of many, many women every single day.”

As an example of how marital rape can manifest, Mrs Nicholls said: “If you’re in a marriage and you don’t want your marriage to end for whatever reason but you know your husband has been unfaithful and has children outside marriage or you know he stays out late every night so you say look, ‘I know of your indiscretions so you need to use a condom to have sex with me.’ He may say, ‘A condom with my wife? Your body belongs to me. You can’t deny me of my conjugal rights.’ I use that example because I know that’s the most common example.”

According to the Sexual Offences Act, a person could face up to 15 years in prison if sex is forced on their spouse under circumstances where there is a decree of divorce, judicial separation, a separation agreement or where the perpetrator has notice that such petitions have been presented to a court. Rape, according to that act which was enacted in 1991, is the “act of any person not under fourteen years of age having sexual intercourse with another person who is not his spouse” without their consent.

Comments

Dawes 9 months, 1 week ago

Fully agree that this should be law, but shall have to wait for all the sweethearting "Christians" to tell us how this goes against the Bible.

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Sickened 9 months ago

Lol! Can't wait to hear what the pastors are going to say.

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hrysippus 9 months, 1 week ago

There is a potential flaw in this legislation which will be very hard to correct. The principle behind legislation seeking to protect spouses from being sexually assaulted is civilized and understandable, but what it does not take into account is the alcohol factor. For many couples having a romantic dinner complete with drinking wine is a common preclude to a sexual encounter later in the evening. If the wife decides the next morning that she did not want that encounter then, because she had imbibed alcohol, the law contends that she will have been suffering from diminished responsibility due to alcohol impairing her judgement, and that she has been raped, had sex against her will.To have a sexual encounter with another without their consent or when they are unable to give their consent, due to alcohol impaired diminished responsibility, for instance, constitutes an act of rape. The fact that the male may also have been acting in a state of alcohol induced diminished responsibility is no defence, he is held responsible for his actions even though the woman is not held responsible for giving her consent. The only way a husband could fully protect himself from such accusations is to never seek to be intimate with his wife if she has had a drink of alcohol. Our law follows British law and this scenario is starting to appear in that country although not in the context of marriage yet as far as I can ascertain. Some careful thought needs to be given to this legislation before it is enacted. It is a shame that politics in this country does not attract people of integrity and intelligence, with a few exceptions.

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ConchFretter 9 months, 1 week ago

By this logic, no man should ever buy a woman a drink at a bar or on a date if sexual relations were ever to follow. This is very bad news for the beer/wine/spirits industry.

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Sickened 9 months ago

I agree that many societies are going down this path of blaming alcohol. In college in the U.S. many guys got in lots of trouble in the morning when girls woke up and 'felt embarrassed'. Many witnessed the girl flirting with the guy, kissing up with the guy, pulling the guy back to her bedroom but in the morning... OMG! Especially if the guy snuck out during the night and she woke up alone - heartbroken by the fact that he may not 'love' her. Traumatizing for both the girl and the boy.

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jamaicaproud 9 months, 1 week ago

Its simple. If a marriage gets to the point where one has to "beg fi di ting.", or Threats or issued in this regard, or there is duplicity n response, its time to pack up. It's not by force.

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sheeprunner12 9 months, 1 week ago

Well ........ who created the legal definition of Rape in The Bahamas in the first place?????? That is the place for the legal gurus to begin.............. Too many loopholes in the law.

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birdiestrachan 9 months, 1 week ago

This may be a hard case to prove. especially if they both live in the same house and sleep in the same bed. I guess there will be videos and tape recordings presented.

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Sickened 9 months ago

Lol! But if you stream it live for your friends and family to bear witness then you run into other issues. Sounds like a no win for the men.

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Regardless 9 months, 1 week ago

...legalize prostitution and then men don't have to worry about second thoughts of their lovers after the fact,

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sheeprunner12 9 months, 1 week ago

Sweethearting is Bahamian prostitution ......... What else do we need??????

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Sickened 9 months ago

Better prices would be good!

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jusscool 9 months ago

Never heared a bunch of hog crap in all my life. The Bahamas is following the rest of the world with this. How weak can we continue to get. If married couples cant agree on having sex together then what's the use of getting married. Mr Johnson, shame on u ! What's next legalizing gay marrage.

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John 9 months ago

When I was in college a male student was invited to his girlfriends’s room. And they started to do what every young couple would do. And then when it got to a certain point the young girl hollers ‘No, no stop, I don’t really want to do this, Stop. But the young man being a roused as young, healthy, natural men are continued to hold on to her begging her to continue. She screamed and after she got free ran and the police came. And despite the young man being fully clothed through the ordeal and his female companion too he was charged with rape. The evidence was he had ejaculated in his clothes. He got a 10 year jail sentence. The girl went on to finish her college career and live free as a bird. So now you telling married med ‘when in doubt sleep on the couch else you might end up in jail with someone else playing with your tail, and ya wife, she ain’t gonna stand ya bail so in jail you stay. Sharing with six other negroes, yes negroes, a pail.

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sheeprunner12 9 months ago

But the feminists are still convinced that women are the only victims when it comes to sex-related crimes in marriage........ both are victims if compromise cannot exist in a marriage ......... Love must trump Law in a male/female marriage............. but what do you make of the other forms of marriage today (same-sex, common-law, polygamy, third-party etc.)??????

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John 9 months ago

The wedding woes admonishes a man to love and cherish his wife. It also instructs wives to SUBMIT unto their husbands. Humans are not like dogs who have to wait to be in heat. They are capable of copulating st anytime . Except the Bible instructs a man not to touch his wife when she unclean. So when a man sleeps with his wife and wakes up with a certain kind of feeling his wife is expected to fulfill his needs. But twisted minds wants the law to tell a wife she doesn’t have to fulfill her marital duties if she doesn’t want and if your husband compels you to be obedient you can send him to jail. So how many marriages will survive after a wife has her husband arrested for rape? And what effect will this have on the children?

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Dawes 9 months ago

It also says thou shalt not commit adultery, but apparently thats OK for all the religious folks here, as God said you could ignore the ones you want. Of course we should also not have sex before marriage and yet somehow 70% of all kids born are out of wedlock in this Christian country. It's lucky we are so religious over here and take the word of God as Gospel, otherwise who knows how much crime and other issues we would have.

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John 9 months ago

The Bible also says , ‘It is better to marry than to burn ‘ (in lust for the flesh. So marriage gives a man and a woman greater access to each other (sexually). And yes there are abusive relationships among married couples. And that is why God in his wisdom allowed Moses to allow for divorce. ‘Because of the heartening of mans heart ‘ either a man or a woman can end a marriage rather than stay and be violently abused or even killed.

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joeblow 9 months ago

So if a man tells his wife he is too tired and falls asleep only to awaken to her 'forcing' herself on him, she can be guilty of marital rape? Right! This is going to be a one-sided issue!!

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bahamama 9 months ago

Once again, ladies, be careful who you allow into your lives. If a man thinks it’s ok to forcefully take his wife against her will, and you’re not ok with that, think twice before you get mix up with him.

And yes, it goes both ways. Gentlemen, if a WOMAN thinks it’s ok to forcefully take HER HUSBAND against HIS will, and you’re not ok with that, think twice before you get mix up with HER.

I agree we need to stop saying issues like sexual abuse, or marital abuse, or ANY kind of abuse is a gendered issue. All that does is alienate people who would otherwise agree that abuse and rape are huge problems in this country.

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Dawes 9 months ago

I don't see why there is such a huge argument on this. We are not a Christian country so who cares what the bible says. 70% of kids are born out of wedlock, sweethearting is a national pastime, murders are always high, crime happens all the time, these are all things the bible tells us not to do. As they happen all the time it must mean that we do not care what the bible says and only do what we want, when we want and to hell with the Bible (unless it agrees with the course of action we are taking, then the bible is the most important item and must be followed line for line).

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Porcupine 9 months ago

Exactly right. A short honest look at history would show Christianity as the greatest threat to reason. Simply take a look at the countries who are "godless". They have the least crime and treat their neighbors with respect. Couldn't we learn something if we really wanted change.

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bahamama 9 months ago

“unless it agrees with the course of action we are taking, then the bible is the most important item and must be followed line for line”

Dawes - 100% Agree. And when you try to point out to religious fundamentalists that they’re picking and choosing which verses to keep and which to throw away, their opinion miraculously becomes the concrete word of god. But don’t tell them that!

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sheeprunner12 9 months ago

Yep ......... The Bahamas Christian Council is the modern version of the Sanhedrin Council in the days of Jesus ........ and you what they did.

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