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EDITORIAL: Study not first to show marital violence

THE statistics should be shocking. Certainly, the outcome of a study revealed by the University of The Bahamas is outrageous – that married Bahamian women are more likely to experience “non-consensual sexual intercourse” with their partners than Bahamian women who are single.

Let us be plain about that – when we say non-consensual sexual intercourse, we are talking about rape. Women being made to have sex against their will. And according to this study, had victims not been married, they would have been at less risk than being in a marital home.

The full details of the survey have not been released yet, but the announcement of these results comes amid the debate over marital rape legislation and the controversy of the passing of a bill that started out aiming to tackle gender-based violence but took a detour along the way to the bemusement of many of those concerned.

The lack of that full survey means we have yet to see the exact details of the findings, but the broad outcome shows already the prevalence of sexual violence in our society.

So why is it not shocking?

Because we have heard this before – and not long ago either.

In October 2022, another study by the university found that one in 12 married women had been raped by their husbands. That equated to an estimated 4,000 married women – while 6,000 would have been victims of sexual abuse, ranging from sexual assault or sexual violence through to rape.

Notably, that earlier study found the same thing – that married women were more likely to be sexually abused than a single woman by their partner.

One of the researchers in the new study is William Fielding, who also spoke to The Tribune at the time of the earlier study being released.

He said at the time: “What might be overlooked in a discussion on rapists is that men who rape their wives are typically violent persons.

“In our research, 44 percent of married women who had been raped had also been physically hurt by their husband, compared to 13 percent of married women who had not been raped. Our data indicate that rape is associated with not only violent behaviour, but also psychological abuse of women.”

After that earlier study, Prime Minister Philip Davis spoke up, urging women to report abuse to the police, whether they are married or single, while Christian Council president Bishop Delton Fernander called the data “horrific” and said he would have a “strong conversation” with pastors. He said such acts against married women were “unacceptable” and that “we’ve got a lot of work to do, to reverse what’s going on in our society”.

Now would be a good time to show what work has been done in the time since.

In the discussion about marital rape legislation, there has been talk about the sanctity of marriage – but violence between partners is a violation of such sanctity in itself. There has been notable opposition to marital rape legislation – but somehow less of an outcry it seems about the violence being suffered by married women.

Women deserve protection – and if these surveys show us anything, it is that there is not enough protection as it stands. Violence is too commonplace for us to ignore – and yet, ignoring it is what we have done for far too long.

The full survey’s publication will give us more granular detail on the state of the problem, but we know the broader problem already – too many women are being subjected to too much violence, including sexual violence and rape.

The path to tackling that legally and legislatively is apparently a challenging one for the government – but at a societal level, it seems we accept and allow such violence far too often.

It should be the most horrifying thing for a woman to be abused by the partner who said they loved them and who swore before God in marriage - and yet it happens so often that it appears the woman would have been better off not married at all.

That is the cancer at the root of the conversation about marital rape and spousal abuse – not the debate over how to legislate on the matter, but rather that it happens at all.

We should have no tolerance for such abuse, or for the abusers who perpetrate it.

Comments

John 11 months ago

The article and subsequent editorial is being mostly ignored because Bahamians with common sense know the article is pure garbage juice without barely ba taint of reality. It is a suit tailored for the cloth and the agenda is marital rape. UB is known for putting contaminated band biased information/material even since they put out a ‘story’ that said one in three students at UB (then CoB) carried the AIDS virus. Laughing clowns, the bunch of them and their research.

birdiestrachan 11 months ago

The women should leave and get a divorce , was the man a rapist before the marriage or did he become a rapist after the marriage .?.

DWW 10 months, 4 weeks ago

i lay this squarely at the feet of the christian church who have severely failed bahamian society and inadvertently promoted violence by sweeping under rug

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