‘WON’T RUSH’ ON GENDER VIOLENCE: Wilchcombe stressed church consultation - but BCC chief says no one has asked him

MINISTER of Social Services and Urban Development Obie Wilchcombe.

MINISTER of Social Services and Urban Development Obie Wilchcombe.


Tribune Staff Reporter


SOCIAL Services Minister Obie Wilchcombe said the Davis administration would not rush the Gender Violence Bill to Parliament, stressing the importance of the Church in discussions about such legislation.

However, Bahamas Christian Council President Delton Fernander said he is unaware of the bill and that the BCC has not been consulted during his six-year tenure on the legislation.

Their comments follow a series of reported violent crimes against women. They also come after former Attorney General Allyson Maynard Gibson urged the government on Friday to pass the bill, which she said was first drafted ten years ago.


FORMER Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson. Photo: Austin Fernander

Mrs Maynard-Gibson said the bill would make it mandatory for the government to establish shelters, mandate that the police respond promptly to reports of abuse even when the person reporting the matter is not the victim, and give the courts broader powers to issue protection orders, among other things.

After the boyfriend of Heavenly Terveus killed her last year, days after she reported him to police for damaging her car, State Minister for Social Services Lisa Rahming said the bill would be tabled in Parliament “in a few weeks or a few months.” That did not happen.

Asked yesterday about the status of the bill, Mr Wilchcombe said: “The rush of the past in dealing with sensitive issues have failed and caused Bahamians to be sceptical and cynical about what they perceive is haste without complete dialogue with the people. The position of the Church is fundamental and has been in each step taken in the growth and development of our country. We have made progress, and we will soon complete our due diligence.”

Attorney General Ryan Pinder referred The Tribune to Mr Wilchcombe and said: “It’s being worked on with social services and relevant NGOs (non-governmental organizations). They have been having routine meetings to refine the legislation.”


BAHAMAS Christian Council president Bishop Delton Fernander. Photo: Donavan McIntosh/Tribune Staff

Bishop Fernander, meanwhile, said: “I am unaware of it. If there was a consultation, that would have been before my time. I’ve been here for six years.” 

Calls for implementing the bill follow reports of violent crimes against women.

As recently as Sunday, police reported that two men abducted and sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl in a bush while she walked near Baillou Hill Road.

A man was sent to prison on March 31 after allegedly assaulting a 19-year-old girl in Exuma after offering her a ride home from a club.

Another man was sent to prison on March 28 after allegedly sexually assaulting a 33-year-old woman.

According to police, reports of rape increased by 15 per cent year-over-year in 2022.

For her part, former Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin yesterday defended the Progressive Liberal Party’s efforts to tackle gender-based violence.  

“The process might be long  , but it seems like we are hopefully at the end of the tunnel,” she said. “But, in the meantime, there is still some recourse through some legislation that is in place already and which would have given some peace to some of the issues that (are) faced within marriages as well as relationships generally.”


mandela 1 year, 3 months ago

How come it took such a short time to work on and approve the RCL deal, which was unneeded, unimportant, and more than ten years to pass something so very important?

K4C 1 year, 3 months ago

Hypocrisy displayed at it's best, so much for that image of a Christian country,

KapunkleUp 1 year, 3 months ago

What a load of dung. Women should not automatically give up their right for protection under the law when they get married. Both parties had years to address this issue and both did nothing.

Sickened 1 year, 3 months ago

So instead of rushing a 10 year old drafted bill through, Obie is now doing nothing with the bill? That certainly isn't rushing, so he's correct on that point at least. Then again most sensible people would consider a 10 year process isn't a rush job either.

JackArawak 1 year, 3 months ago

and anyway, the church can go pray to themselves. It's a common decency thing.

themessenger 1 year, 3 months ago

Wilchcombe need to get a wife, I mean life, before he could speak about women’s rights!

AnObserver 1 year, 3 months ago

Why the hell are we consulting churches on laws? Are you going to ask the medicine man and the oracle as well? Will rain dances be added to the Ministry of Agriculture's playbook? Will we sacrifice some virgins on an alter downtown in order to decrease the national debt?

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