By RIEL MAJOR
Tribune Staff Reporter
MINISTER of Social Services and Urban Development Frankie Campbell said yesterday legislation is being prioritised for the vulnerable in society, such as the elderly.
However, he added, more discussion is still needed on the controversial issue of outlawing marital rape.
In January, Mr Campbell told reporters the government could no longer ignore calls for marital rape legislation.
When asked for an update yesterday, Mr Campbell said: “There are several schools of thought, there is the religious community and so there is much discussion still needed to harmonise a conclusion. It makes no sense to come to a conclusion that will result in dividing the people so we want to talk some more to harmonise a conclusion that will work for everybody. “
Last year, Attorney General Carl Bethel said the government would likely have time for a Marital Rape Bill this year. However, he later suggested such legislation was not a priority.
“We are not planning our agenda for 2019 right now in terms of social legislation,” Mr Bethel had said previously. “The emphasis still is on legislation to preserve the Bahamian economy and our way of life. Social legislation has to wait for a while.”
Meanwhile, speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a ceremony hosted at the Bahamas Association for the Physically Disabled, Mr Campbell said his ministry is looking at legislation to protect the elderly and disabled.
He said: “We have prioritised the legislation relative to persons with disabilities, but we are also looking at legislation relative to older persons because we have been satisfied that there have been instances where, like children, older persons have and are being abused and they deserve the protection of a nation that they would have served and contributed to.
“Another big thing that we want to do is heighten the awareness. We want the nation to be aware of what it is we offer, what our services are, and what it is we are concerned about to get assistance. So, we are going (to release) public service announcements to ensure that every service that we offer the nation is aware of.”
The minister said his ministry plans to help those on social assistance to gain independence.
“We are going to find a number of persons who are still within the age of learning new skills, etc, and we are going to spend some of our budget to empower them by increasing their skills so that they can become independent and can graduate from the social assistance (programmes),” he said.