WHATEVER your viewpoint on the issue of marital rape – freshly in the headlines after Speaker Halson Moultrie opened his mouth on the subject and put his foot squarely in it – let’s be clear about one thing: Nothing’s going to change in a hurry.
After Mr Moultrie had his say that, spiritually, a husband cannot rape his wife, PLP leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis found his own voice to say that the party did not support men raping their wives – we would hope not – but couldn’t commit to doing anything about it. Little bravery on show there in dealing with the topic – but then given there was no change in the law when he was Deputy Prime Minister, that’s no surprise.
Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis has previously said he holds no personal view on marital rape, while in 2018 Attorney General Carl Bethel said laws on marital rape were off the table until 2019. 2019 came and went with no change. Social Services Minister Frankie Campbell has boldly declared that more discussion is needed – how much longer we need to talk about the subject wasn’t made clear. He declared a year ago that it “is a matter that we cannot ignore” only for his party to continue to ignore it.
So there you have it – a succession of older men making it clear they have no desire to rush to deal with the issue of marital rape.
Mr Campbell’s predecessor as Social Services Minister, Lanisha Rolle, didn’t advance the cause either – declaring that marital rape was a private issue.
This despite the UN’s special rapporteur on violence against women saying that marital rape is the most pressing gender-based issue facing The Bahamas. The rapporteur, Dubravka Šimonović, said the legality of marital rape was “a sign that something is deeply wrong”.
That was in 2017 – the issue isn’t any less pressing now.
One of the few voices to speak out in government was Elsworth Johnson – then State Minister for Legal Affairs now Minister of Foreign Affairs – who said rightly that “sexual intercourse without consent in any form is rape”. He would not, however, comment on the government’s official position.
The safe answer for many of these politicians is that we need more discussion, that there needs to be a public debate on the subject. None of them then goes on to drive such a debate. And so the days, and months, and years go by – and nothing is done to help spouses who are raped by their partner.
But here’s the thing – if these leaders don’t follow through on their pledges to tackle the issue of marital rape, then what are their other pledges worth?
Who will live up to their promises? And if no one does, why should we believe they will do any of what they say they will do?
Doing great without the boss
The Royal Bahamas Defence Force has been doing “tremendous work” in the absence of its commander, Tellis Bethel. So says the acting commander, Raymond King – and doesn’t that sound a little off?
Oh yes, we’ve been doing brilliantly without you isn’t a ringing endorsement of Commander Bethel’s abilities, is it?
While the pretend mystery of when Mr Bethel will return to office goes on – Minister Marvin Dames suggests April now but we wouldn’t suggest you place a bet on him returning to the same job – his acting replacement rattled off a list of all the things on his to-do list. Which should be Mr Bethel’s to-do list, of course, if he’s back anytime soon.
He probably doesn’t need to ring the office and ask if they miss him, though. He might not like the answer by the sound of it.
By the way, one of those things on the to-do list is to talk to the Air Accident Investigation Unit about how to respond to an aircraft crash. The Byron Ferguson crash report pointed out the country should have a designated search and rescue entity, not something like the RBDF covering for a job that isn’t their sole focus. Is that another lesson we’re not learning from?