With a goal to form a task force on every island to eradicate gender-based violence in The Bahamas, the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development launched a Family Island Coordination Council (FICC) in Grand Bahama during an official ceremony on Friday, April 21, 2023.
It was the second such council formed by the Department of Gender and Family Affairs and comes just three weeks after the pilot council was launched in Abaco.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, Joel Lewis delivered the charge to the 15 council members on behalf of Minister of Social Services, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe during the launch ceremony at New Life Worship Centre, under the theme: “Family Islands U.N.I.T.E. for a Safer Bahamas.”
The mission of the FICC is to develop effective and comprehensive systems, programmes and services for the management and elimination of gender-based violence in The Bahamas.
Mr. Lewis explained that the organization was initially called the Bureau of Women’s Affairs but was renamed after it was realized that men are also victims of abuse.
He pointed out that two years ago, domestic violent cases had increased and, today, families in The Bahamas are being scarred by the violence and abuse that are threatening the livelihood of our nation.
In light of this, the Permanent Secretary told the FICC that there is much work to do.
“The objectives of this initiative are to promote the prevention, protection and accountability,” he said.
Mr. Lewis also encouraged those in his hearing to join hands with the ministry to prevent the scourge that is besetting the country, called ‘violence,’ and seek to create a wraparound effective action plan to prevent violence and abuse in The Bahamas.
Deputy Director of Urban Development Senator Kirkland Russell, while bringing remarks, said the launch was a vital step in addressing dire issues affecting women, men and girls in the country.
“Make no mistake, gender-based violence is not just a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that takes the form of physical, mental, emotional, sexual and psychological abuse,” he said.
While quoting statistical date which reveals that violence against women has been on the increase worldwide, Senator Russell also pointed that sadly in The Bahamas gruesome reports of violence against women and girls shockingly make our headlines far too often.
“This does not even count the stories that we unfortunately do not hear. This is unacceptable. We need more than lip service; we need action. We must unite to put an end to this injustice,” he said.