Senate President LaShell Adderley at yesterday’s joint sitting of the House of Assembly.
Photo: Austin Fernander
By JADE RUSSELL
SENATE President LaShell Adderley called yesterday for the criminalisation of marital rape, saying rape is rape no matter the context.
“Our long walk to freedom has not yet ended when the marital bed has become a violent mattress,” she said. “Rape is rape; notwithstanding the context. The Bible reminds us that men ought to love their wives in the way that Christ loves the church and died for it.
“This love is defined in 1st Corinthians Chapter 13 as being patient, kind, and not delighting in evil. Freedom and justice demand legislation which outlaws spousal rape,” Ms Adderley said.
Ms Adderley’s comments came during a special joint sitting at the House of Assembly which brought members of Parliament and Senators together in the lower chamber. The joint sitting celebrated the contributions that Bahamian women have made to the national development of the country.
The joint sitting also highlighted the commemoration of the 60th anniversary of women obtaining the right to vote and the efforts of the Women’s Suffrage Movement.
Ms Adderley in her remarks pointed out that the “long walk to freedom” for women has not ended yet, saying women are indiscriminately victims of gender-based violence and there is no domestic violence legislation for their protection.
“Freedom, justice and equality demands a Gender-Based Violence Act now,” she stressed.
She also highlighted the need for improvement in the treatment of women, such as women not receiving the same salary compensation, promotion and benefits as their male counterparts.
The meeting yesterday marked the first time a joint sitting was chaired by two women, House Speaker Patricia Deveaux and Ms Adderley.
When asked by reporters outside of the House of Assembly how she would respond to those who have criticised her management and running of the House, Speaker Deveaux responded: “Anytime a woman is in charge her aggressiveness is always misconstrued.”
She added: “I’m saying this to say, a woman has to work double down hard when you’re in a man’s world. And so, my aggressiveness is not just to put them in their place. But to take control of the House and make sure that the people’s business is conducted in the right fashion and that is expected by this country.”
Ms Deveaux defended her running of the House of Assembly.
“I’m bringing decorum and respect back to the floor,” she said.
Meanwhile, Education Minister Glenys Hanna-Martin in her remarks highlighted women who have made great strides to development and status of the country.
“In this gallery joining us, for this solemn occasion, is an array of distinguished women former parliamentarians who are the tangible expression of women obtaining a franchise that is the full participation in the political process.”
Ms Hanna-Martin applauded these women for their contributions and efforts to the country over the years.
Among those in attendance at the special joint sitting were Dame Janet Bostwick, who was the first woman elected to serve in the House of Assembly; Italia Johnson, who was the first female Speaker of the House of Assembly; Cynthia ‘Mother’ Pratt, who was the first woman to serve as deputy prime minister, and former Governor General Dame Marguerite Pindling.
Also in the gallery during the special joint sitting were the wives of former and current prime ministers.