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EDITORIAL: US report tells us what we know

AT the start of this year, a spike in the murder rate brought international warnings to travellers that prompted the government to loudly proclaim – and often – that The Bahamas was a safe place to visit.

Muted in that debate – which included the Prime Minister suggesting that murders should not be reported on the front page – was much talk of how safe The Bahamas was for Bahamians.

In today’s Tribune, we report on international warnings that also directly affect Bahamians – and their rights.

The United States report on human rights has pointed up a number of areas in which our country is letting down its own people.

There are a number of issues that have been pointed out – all of which have been highlighted in these pages, and this column.

Firstly, there is the ongoing failure to address inequalities in citizenship. In short, this means women do not have the same rights as men when it comes to passing on their citizenship – and there seems to be little urgency from government to change that.

The report notes: “Married Bahamian women could not confer citizenship to their children if the child was born outside of The Bahamas. Women were also unable to confer citizenship to their adopted children.”

Last month, Attorney General Ryan Pinder talked of the need for “buy-in” from the collective before a change in the law.

Until that buy-in, we suppose women will just have to continue to wait for equality.

Repeatedly, issues affecting women have been raised recently – not just citizenship, but also the issue of marital rape, which this administration has constantly shown is not even on its agenda, let alone a priority. Prime Minister Philip “Brave” Davis said as much yesterday, saying that marital rape legislation was not on the party’s blueprint for change. He is right, it was not – but when asked about marital rape and saying it was not on the party’s agenda, the resultant public uproar made sure it was on the table. The government seems to be trying to take it back off the table.

Mr Davis even seemed to hint that perhaps women are better off not being married – divorce your husband if you think he has raped you. You will have more rights to prosecute your rapist if you are not married to him. Imagine a woman who has been raped by her husband hearing that – no hint of telling the rapist not to commit the crime, but suggesting the victim go through the divorce process to get away from him. The law is not changing, so look out for yourself.

Then there is the issue of legislation on gender violence. A bill tackling such was in the process of being created only to be sidelined in favour of a bill that stripped all mention of gender out.

Activists trying to press for discussions on gender violence are struggling to get a meeting with the Minister of National Security, or even a return phone call.

The US report covers other issues – such as the limited enforcement of clauses to tackle conflicts of interest and corruption in government contracts, while there is also, despite occasional talk of such, a lack of campaign finance legislation. Meanwhile, a human rights committee established this month has not offered up any kind of agenda. Issues affecting the LGBTQI community were also noted.

When the international warnings at the start of the year were issued, we noted that these were warnings telling us what we already knew, and we should not be hesitant about recognising the problems we face.

The same holds true with this latest report. We know the problems. It does not take outsiders to tell us what we already know. But will it cause us to address those problems, or even simply admit to them?

Will the government response be to lay out a plan for how such issues will be dealt with? When legislation to tackle them can be expected? Or will the government push back on international warnings as it has before? If it does, then do not be surprised if there continues to be no urgency to take steps forward in bringing women the equality, and the protection, that they deserve.

Comments

birdiestrachan 2 months, 4 weeks ago

mr Davis is 100 percent correct the marriage is over will the woman go back to that home will they dress alike and go to the court together while their marital rape case is heard Bahamians voted against equal rights for women it was not that long ago, what about the children and women in the Gaza that are killed every day what does the USA say about that or is that all right

birdiestrachan 2 months, 4 weeks ago

is the UK great britin sending black aslym seeks to rwanda

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