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Rolle: We Should Not Rush Over Rape Issue

SOCIAL Services and Urban Development Minister Lanisha Rolle.

SOCIAL Services and Urban Development Minister Lanisha Rolle.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

SOCIAL Services and Urban Development Minister Lanisha Rolle, the only woman in Cabinet, yesterday shied away from taking a firm position on whether marital rape should be criminalised in The Bahamas, but insisted marriage is private and its sanctity should be protected.

Mrs Rolle said before the government acts or makes determinations that legislate how people’s personal lives are managed – adding there are two sides to every story – there should be a proper national conversation on spousal rape. Once a public consensus is taken, she said the Minnis administration should act accordingly.

Meanwhile, her colleague, Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest said his personal view is marriage does not give a man the right to “own anybody”. He said every woman is to determine what happens to her body, which is a fundamental right.

Asked whether he believed the issue was something that should be looked at legislatively, the minister of finance said he was “certainly” open to this.

The issue of recognising marital rape was again ignited in the country after Dubravka Šimonović, the UN’s special rapporteur on violence against women, said last week marital rape is the most pressing gender-based issue facing the Bahamas.

Ms Šimonović, a human rights expert, stressed the legality of martial rape is “a sign that something is deeply wrong,” adding the issue could easily be resolved through legislative changes.

“Certainly, we do not support any form of violence against women,” Mrs Rolle told reporters yesterday ahead of the morning Cabinet session. “That is the stance that the country has taken. Certainly, I am one that supports that.

“In relation to marital rape, I have always said that it is an issue that is private. It can become public, but we want to start where marriage is sacred and marriage is private. And so, if we are going to legislate any type of law to affect marital couples and relationships between those parties, it is proper to have a conversation with the wider community to get their perspective on how they feel about it.

“Certainly, there are existing laws that deal with domestic violence that deal with sexual offences. There are laws that are on the books at this time,” the Seabreeze MP said.

“The Penal Code covers several offences in relation to acts and rape is one of them, assault is another, but when we get into the sanctuary of marriage it’s very, very important I feel because this relates to both parties and you know nobody else would be there than those two parties.”

Asked pointedly if she believed marital rape should be outlawed, the minister said: “I said when it comes to the privacy and the rights of individuals particularly those within a marriage, we want to hear what the population has to say before we go and legislate and make determinations as to how we are going to manage people’s lives.

“Sometimes people say one thing and then there are two sides to the story and so let’s hear what everybody has to say without just making decisions. Outside of that I think that’s the appropriate thing to do in a sensitive situation like this other than that let the law take its course in any form and any kind of way,” Mrs Rolle said.

She added that men were also victims of rape and were often laughed at when trying to report the matter.

When he was asked if he thought marital rape should be criminalised, Mr Turnquest said he believed “there ought to be consequences”.

He said: “I think it is something that we need to look at. There is this argument from some churches with respect to this right. I don’t necessarily share that view and I apologise if that offends anybody, but I just don’t share that view.

“I think that each of us has an inalienable right to decide for ourselves and to protect for ourselves. To the extent that somebody forces themselves on the other I think there ought to be consequences.”

Earlier in his interview with reporters, Mr Turnquest said: “My personal belief is that no man has the right to force himself on any woman whether married or not. So as far as the law is concerned I am not a lawyer so I won’t get too much involved in that.”

“But I think as a fundamental right every woman has a right to determine what happens to her (and) to her body and no man has the right. You don’t own anybody. Slavery was (abolished) a long time ago and nobody has the right to abuse another person, a man or woman. We need to look at it legislatively. Certainly, I am open to it.

“I can’t imagine that any man would think it’s right to force himself upon a woman. I don’t care if you are married to her or not. It’s just unacceptable,” he said.

On Monday, Attorney General Carl Bethel, acknowledging the controversial nature of the issue, said he hopes a compromise can be made resulting in characterising sex without consent in a marriage as sexual spousal abuse as opposed to rape. This, he said, could be addressed by amending the Matrimonial Causes Act or the Domestic Violence (Protection Orders) Act.

Comments

Dawes 7 months ago

Wow and this is the Minister for Social Services and Urban Development. As they say, you couldn't make it up if you tried. Pathetic.

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seamphony 7 months ago

ok so the UN lady visits sunny Nassau during winter (no coincidence that it's freezing in new york where the UN headquarters are LOL) and says marital rape is the most pressing gender issue in the Bahamas. wait what?! where are the local statistics? where are the examples where the current system didn't work? don't we have domestic violence rules etc to deal with guys who beat up their wives or vice versa? so now we are supposed to drop everything we are doing and listen to something she said during a semi vacation? am I being too tough? it is very hard to take her seriously when 75% of the children born in the bahamas are born out of wedlock (meaning people are not getting married in the first place) ....

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Dawes 7 months ago

This is the Minister for Social Services, it doesn't matter what is meant to be the most pressing issue, marital rape is an issue and she should support it being against the law. That she does not see it as an issue and thinks this is a matter behind closed doors is laughable. Or is Government only meant to deal with the most pressing issues?

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seamphony 7 months ago

i agree with you that being a minister of social services implies that you'll be working for women's, children's and families' rights and benefits etc. I also wholeheartedly believe that NO means NO no matter what the circumstances are.

If it was a victim talking here, it would be a whole different story but at the end of the day these are politicians and random UN bureaucrats. Theirs is the last opinion i want to hear when it comes to people's bedrooms.

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TalRussell 7 months ago

Comrades, understandably after "Acee" has spent the past 7 months trying explain what the PM really meant say - one shouldn't expect the same PM as head of the Imperial red cabinet to mandate ministers of the crown to operate under standard operating procedures... be sure ya damn brain is engaged before putting mouth into ministerial stupid gear, again and again.

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stillwaters 6 months, 4 weeks ago

I don't know.....this issue is tricky. I can see Bahamian women getting their husbands locked up, but also being right there to pick him up when he's released, and then the courts are in the wrong, not her. Oh no, she loves her husband. This is tricky, folks..

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stillwaters 6 months, 4 weeks ago

People only see one tenth of what really goes on in a marriage.

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Bahamianbychoice 6 months, 4 weeks ago

The Bahamas has one of the highest rape rates in the region in general. The Social Services Minister is well aware of this.....or should be... and you would think she would lobby to protect the women in this country. The government needs to send a message that women are valued as citizens and contributors in this country..as are men. It is simple equality and protection for all. It really makes me wonder if she is up for this position...does she even value her own contributions as a woman? This particular ministry requires a compassionate yet strong person...not sure she is it...

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Greentea 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Not sure she is it? I am certain she isnt it. She proved she wasn't leading up to the election and here we go again. This is the quality of thinker we elect to look after our interests again and again. Low quality.

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hrysippus 6 months, 4 weeks ago

The poster poser called greentea,.... ... thinks she in the right to rubbish me,... ... ,,,..She needs to look at her large mote,,..... ... as well as the way she used to vote,... .....plenty stupid voters still around, ..... ....In self deception they stay bound,...

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proudloudandfnm 6 months, 4 weeks ago

What an idiot. I swear. Why Minnis gave this woman a post is beyond me....

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 4 weeks ago

She and Dr Minnis know just why they don't speak. Why he gave her a post is beyond me too. On May 10th I gave my personal view on three persons unsituable for cabinet posts, Romi, Lanisha and V Miller. All for the same reason.

In relation to marital rape I have always said it is an issue that is private? She cannot be serious, a woman getting abused is told I can't get in that it's private? Dr Minnis really needs to think better of the Bahamas and give us cabinet ministers who can think.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Another thing,, we've had five parliamentarians speak on this very simple issue and they all over the place. Do they have meetings? And why they letting it go on and on? Rudderless

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johnmcntsh 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Check out the countries that allow marital rape. The Bahamas are not in very good company. How sad, how very sad.

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hrysippus 6 months, 4 weeks ago

This issue is really quite emo tive, ................. .... Denoting how man and wife should live,.. .. .... The feminists will have their say, ......... ... .... God botherers will enter the fray, ........... .. .... Don't approach your wife if she's been drinking,. ......... And suffering from that impaired thinking, .......... ....... She legally cannot give her consent, . ... ...... No matter what she said she meant. .................. .... In the morning if she change her mind, ... ..... The husband in the jail you'll find.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Good one, I hope you writing songs with this talent

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jackbnimble 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Lord one woman show up from the UN and made a statement on a subject nowhere on the burner and the whole country up in arms.

If anyone is paying attention they'll note that Dr. Minnis is not giving any statements on the subject and his AG, Carl Bethel said they don't plan to pass any laws with regard to this anytime soon. Both "Rolle" and "Johnson" (cabinet ministers) spoke from personal opinion (which they have every right to do). They did not speak on behalf of the Government and Rolle did not speak on behalf of Social Services or for women's rights, so we are beating up our gums in vain.

Besides Rolle has said she supports Minnis's wife getting an "office" which effectively means, Minnis's wife should be the one speaking out on this issue. Here's your moment in the sunshine darling! But I guess she needs the "office" first.

Frankly I'm with the AG on this one. If its not on the table, its a non-issue.

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ThisIsOurs 6 months, 4 weeks ago

You've detailed the REAL problem well, why are five cabinet ministers including the DPM so all over the place and the PM AND his press secretary absolutely silent? Where is the strategy and where is the leadership? This is what happens when you don't have a strategy/plan/agenda #distraction Anyone hear anything about any milestones for the over the hill project? Another distraction

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TalRussell 6 months, 4 weeks ago

Comrades,I'm about take my regular after midnight walk and tonight I is goin take a detour to walk past the political graveyard, and as I approach the gates I is goin whistle at the political grave the midnight shift gravedigger is rumoured be preparing for the short cabinet longevity of a certain red shirts crown minister of the Imperial cabinet.

  • Whistling Past The Graveyard -

........./////https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73c7Hv_1dCI

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sheeprunner12 6 months, 3 weeks ago

How many Bahamian women of ALL social levels are "raping" the pockets of their significant others?????? .......... Any outrage from the men on that 50-50 issue??????? ........ smdh

This is not to excuse worthless males who beat women or are deadbeat sperm donors or spouses .......... But there is far more marital/relational dysfunction than marital rape to worry about in this country.

What we need is the Minister of Social Services and her PS to lead an honest national conversation on the truth behind the high rate of single-parent homes and marital dysfunction and its impact on the socio-economic welfare of this country ....... that is what UR1.0 and 2.0 were supposed to have done under the PLP ... but Brave used it as a slush fund instead.

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