EDITOR, The Tribune.
November 25 marked the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and the beginning of 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, culminating on December 10 - Human Rights Day. This year’s theme, “UNiTE! Invest to Prevent Violence against Women and Girls,” calls for meaningful action and funding towards creating a safer Bahamas where women and girls are free from violence.
This week is also National Women’s Week, a critical time for the government to hastily prioritise the needs of women and girls in The Bahamas. As a reminder, to this administration:
We are still awaiting the promised shelter that a mere $500,000 has been allocated for, the same amount of money being spent on holiday decorations, amidst an increase in violence against women in recent years.
We are still awaiting amendments to the Protection Against Violence bill to address gaps identified by advocacy groups and other experts with additional and specific protections for women and girls that do not leave us dependent on generalized language.
We are still awaiting legislative equality with men when it comes to the transfer of Bahamian citizenship to our children.
We are still awaiting the appointment of a substantive minister for Social Services to give focused attention to gender affairs.
Bahamian women and girls are entitled to live free from gender-based violence, no matter where it occurs, whether at home, work, school, church, or in a public space.
As leaders, we must work with urgency to build a Bahamas for all Bahamians. One where there are adequate safe homes and shelters for those fleeing abusive relationships. Where girls can have safe neighbourhoods to grow up unharmed, secure and healthy, and develop to the maximum extent of their potential. Where women with disabilities can thrive and use their immense gifts and talents toward nation building without prohibitions.
Violence against women and girls is not just a violation of human rights, it is a barrier to a safer, more progressive Bahamas. A less patriarchal Bahamas, where women are equal and empowered.
(If you or someone you know is in a crisis situation, contact The Bahamas Crisis Centre’s 24-HOUR HOTLINE at 328-0922 for support).
Senator Maxine Seymour
Shadow Minister, Social Services
November 26, 2023