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One in four women victims of violence

A quarter of Bahamian women suffer sexual or physical assaults

By JADE RUSSELL

Tribune Staff Reporter

jrussell@tribunemedia.net

A SIGNIFICANT Gender-Based Violence study found that one in four women in The Bahamas had suffered physical or sexual violence in their life, with survivors lamenting the challenges with accessing healthcare, law enforcement and social services in the country.

The findings were revealed during a press conference at the Inter-American Development Bank’s local office yesterday. Sanigest International conducted the survey for the Ministry of National Security using a computer-assisted telephone interview approach involving 1,260 women between 18 and 64.

The study also included focus group discussions, round tables, and personal interviews.

Etoile Pinder, lead consultant of Sanigest International, said about one in four women reported they either received physical violence or sexual violence within their lifetime. Of the 272 women who reported physical violence, almost 65 per cent said the violence was severe. The physical violence included being slapped, choked, burned, kicked, or threatened with a weapon.

Regarding sexual violence, 6.6 percent of women reported they were forced to perform degrading or humiliating acts in their lifetime.

There were several factors associated with women suffering sexual, physical, psychological, and economic abuse in relationships, including getting financial support from a man, being unable to rely on family members, and getting sexually abused as a child.

Forty-four percent of women reported their overall health was poor due to psychological and emotional abuse, and 43.6 per cent who suffered from psychological abuse reported having a miscarriage.

Ms Pinder said: “Internationally, domestic violence is one of the top causes of death for pregnant women. And even here, we saw that for the women who reported that they had been physically abused while pregnant,

over 20 percent of them reported that they had been punched within their abdomen or kicked within the area where the baby would be.”

The survey was the first time 28 percent of women reported being victims of physical and sexual violence. Thirty-seven percent had disclosed their abuse to friends, 31 percent to their mothers, and 53 percent sought help because they couldn’t take the abuse anymore.

Only 19 percent of the women told police they were suffering from violence.

Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe said Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander had established a domestic violence unit. He said the centre will combine policing, non-profit organisations, health services, and temporary shelters. He said police must do their part in making victims comfortable to report instead of creating an “unfriendly police station” environment.

He also encouraged friends and relatives to intervene.

The survey noted that 53 percent of women never leave their abusers. Over one in ten stayed because they had nowhere to go or relied on their partner financially.

Asked what he would say to women who won’t leave violent relationships, Mr Munroe highlighted the reasons some stay.

“You’re never going to persuade somebody to change the decision they have made unless you get to the bottom of why they have made that decision, and then you persuade them that they might consider a different decision,” he said.

“So, if the woman is saying he isn’t going to pay my children’s school fees, he isn’t going to pay the mortgage, if that is her reason for staying with the man, you now know that you have protective orders that the court can order him to continue to pay school fees and continue to pay the mortgage. That is an answer that addresses the reason that she was tolerating the abuse.”

The survey highlighted the limited number of domestic violence shelters in The Bahamas.

Ms Pinder noted that victims on Family Islands do not have access to domestic shelters. She said the first issue for a woman looking for a refuge on Rum Cay would be: “Where are you going to go?”

Social Services Minister Myles Laroda was asked about the ongoing delay over the government’s promised $500k women’s shelter.

“We intend to purchase that facility within the 2023/2024 budget,” he said. “We have made an application in 2024/2025 for the renovations and furnishing. So, within the next few months, we will have at least one facility to house those individuals who may be subjected to domestic violence.”

Previous research has shown that some women are sexually abused in marriages.

Mr Laroda did not give a meaningful update on the Davis administration’s intention regarding criminalising marital rape, saying: “Stay tuned. It’s being considered. It’s being worked on. Stay tuned.”

Comments

TalRussell 1 month, 1 week ago

A significant number go as a couple to sit silently in the Sunday Church pew. --- Good Day!

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John 1 month, 1 week ago

Since tge author of the article is not married she is definitely not speaking from experience and if this is an underhanded push for the marital rape bill, again behest is compromised in whatever position she advances. And if she is NOT a Black Bahamian, she is even less qualified to speak on this matter, at least from experience. That being said the explanation is what the more affluent class regards as domestic violence. Point being someone with means can easily walk away and go to a motel or family members who can accommodate them. Persons of lesser means may have to stand up and stand their ground in a relationship and eventually engage law enforcement. So the records of domestic violence among the low income will be more. And remember men are lest likely to report domestic violence for fear of ridicule so the scales may be unbalanced.

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tell_it_like_it_is 1 month, 1 week ago

The article is simply stating the findings from the IDB. Unless you're saying that the IDB is a female. We have to face the realities of our problems head on and stop burying our heads in the sand.

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John 1 month, 1 week ago

Not the issue of burying ‘our heads in the sand’. You know when these ‘outsiders’ intend to get certain results and responses, they style their questions accordingly. And what are ‘cultural norms’ are portrayed as ‘women’s crisis’ vis a vis abuse. Ninety percent of Bahamian parents still exercise corporal punishment and so some physical assertion in a relationship is not considered abuse. ‘He hit me , so I hit him back’ type vibe. No, I don’t condone it, and no I have never been in a relationship that got physical but the facts are that it is real and it does happen. And in this day and time when things get out of control so quickly then maybe it needs looking into. But another behavior that may need addressing, according to the younger generation, is the number of young women getting into physical altercations with each other. And these fights turn savage where it’s no longer pulling if haur and weave, but ‘rocks’ and bottles are used as weapons.

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concernedcitizen 1 month ago

Yes we beat the snot out of kids in anger , teaching them that you solve problems w physical violence .T he countries w the lowest violent crime rates , the Nordic countries , refrain from corporal punishment of children , I n some of these countries it is illegal

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