EDITORIAL: Shelter for abused women needs action

LET us take a step back in time.

In July 2023, Obie Wilchcombe was the Social Services Minister. At the time, he said that the first of four new shelters for women would be ready in a few weeks.

As we all know, Mr Wilchcombe sadly passed away in the September of that year, and his torch has been picked up by Myles Laroda.

Mr Laroda, when asked about the creation of a domestic violence shelter on Friday tells us to “stay tuned”.

He said: “It is coming; it is on the agenda.”

Clearly, more than a few weeks have passed since that promise in July last year, so how close are we?

Mr Laroda says: “The government, as we speak, is in the process of acquiring a facility which has already been identified.”

So the property has not been bought as yet.

As it happens, a Tribune staff member was at a presentation on International Women’s Day last month when a senior law enforcement figure said a shelter was just a couple of weeks away from opening.

Clearly, if the property had not been bought at the time – and still has not – that hope of a couple of weeks was a forlorn one.

On Friday, Mr Laroda went on to say: “It is just going through the paperwork and the acquisition. We won’t say the place because we want to protect those individuals who would be staying there. But stay tuned.”

He added: “Words say anything; we will lead by example; we show better than we can tell.”

It is true, words can say anything. Words, for example, said it would have been opened a long time ago. Actions have shown otherwise.

Words say that the government is committed to supporting women – and yet, there is still no sign of proposals to give women the same rights as men when it comes to citizenship.

Words said that the government was going to consult further after the Gender-Based Violence Bill was abandoned in favour of legislation that removed the gender element, and also left the government some way short of meeting international commitments with regard to such legislation.

Words say that the government is open to consulting on all manner of such proposals – and yet one activist, Tribune columnist Alicia Wallace, reports that her Equality Bahamas group has been asking for a meeting with the minister since last year and has had no luck in getting a response.

So yes, words can say many things, but the government is showing that issues that affect women in particular are seemingly not given as high a priority as others.

In the past in this column, we have praised Mr Laroda, particularly for his willingness to speak directly about the state of the NIB fund and the need for action to rescue it.

We would encourage him to show similar directness when it comes to engaging with women’s groups on the need for action on a range of issues – and we shall applaud him if he does. Until then, words are just words.

Rare Solar eclipse today

A RARE event takes place today – a solar eclipse.

Here in The Bahamas, we shall see a partial eclipse, although we shall doubtless see much excited coverage in the US where a total eclipse will be visible across large swathes of the country.

An eclipse often comes with all manner of superstition, although it is, of course, simply a quirk of planetary movements. Still, it is a moment to pause and note the wonders of the world around us.

A reminder, though, do not look directly at the sun. You can hurt your eyes, so listen to the experts – and ensure your children do too.

In the meantime, enjoy a rare occasion.


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