EDITOR, The Tribune.
We write to express our deep concern and disappointment regarding the comments of Rev Rex Major at a recent national ecumenical church service where our national leaders were present.
As an organisation committed to upholding universal human rights and advocating for equality for all individuals, Human Rights Bahamas (HRB) finds Rev Major’s expressed views on the proposed criminalisation of marital rape to be profoundly troubling.
Rev Major asserts that women lie – without acknowledging that men lie as well. This is not only dismissive, but also perpetuates harmful stereotypes that undermine the experiences of countless survivors of abuse.
His comments disregard the sad prevalence of sexual assaults against women in this society, which featured almost daily in our newspaper headlines. By insinuating without evidence that women are likely to make false accusations of rape, Rev Major not only contributes to victim-blaming but also diminishes the trauma suffered by survivors and courage it takes for them to come forward.
It is crucial to recognise that individuals who disclose incidents of rape or any form of sexual assault do not do so for amusement or personal gain. Their bravery in speaking out deserves our support, empathy, and a fair legal framework that acknowledges their experiences. The proposed marital rape law aims to address the issue of consent within marriage and provide protection to individuals who may experience abuse within this context. It is a step towards recognising that no one should be coerced or forced into any sexual act against their will, regardless of their marital status.
Furthermore, as Rev Major holds a position of influence within his community, we are disheartened by his failure to demonstrate care and empathy towards women, who make up more than half of our society. His comments not only undermine the struggles faced by survivors of abuse but also perpetuate harmful attitudes that can further marginalise and silence victims. As a religious leader, it is essential that he upholds the principles of compassion, justice, and equality, which are central to many faith traditions, including Christianity.
We urge Rev Major to consider the impact of his words and engage in a meaningful dialogue on issues of gender equality and human rights. It is imperative that religious leaders take an active role in advocating for the well-being and dignity of all individuals, regardless of gender. By doing so, they contribute to fostering a society that values and respects the rights of all its members.
It is our hope that Rev Major considers speaking with the multiple non-profit groups who deal with rape and abuse of women on a daily basis. Perhaps this would help him better understand the shocking realities and have more compassion for those abused in our country.
Human Rights Bahamas remains committed to promoting gender equality and combating all forms of discrimination and violence against women. We stand in solidarity with survivors of abuse and continue to advocate for a just and inclusive society where the rights and dignity of all individuals are upheld. We thank the Davis government, the Attorney General, Minister Sears, Mrs Davis, the wife of our Prime Minister, and many others who continue to support women in our country, seeking equality and compassion.
Human Rights Bahamas
May 24, 2023