Government pursuing ‘domestic legislation’ on gender equality, gender-based violence (GBV)

Prime Minister, the Hon. Philip Edward "Brave" Davis addressing the Opening Session of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development's National Gender-Based Violence Law Review Forum, Thursday (February 17, 2022) at the Grand Hyatt Convention Centre, Baha Mar resort. Sign Language Interpretation was provided to ensure access and inclusion for the community of persons with disabilities. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

By: Matt Maura/Bahamas Information Services

The country’s Attorney General is “looking into” what is being labelled as “Domestic Legislation” to ensure how that legislation can be used to advance the cause of gender equality in-country and lead to an approach to Gender-Based Violence, Prime Minister, the Hon. Philip Edward “Brave” Davis said Thursday.

Addressing the Opening Session of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development’s National Gender-Based Violence Law Review Forum at the Grand Hyatt Convention Centre, Baha Mar Resort, Prime Minister Davis told those gathered, and watching via ZOOM, that there is a shared understanding that bringing the country’s laws up to date and in line with Bahamian values and international treaty obligations, was crucial.

The Prime Minister said recommendations emerging from the three-day conclave, will be very important to the formulation of new public policies and a Plan of Action. Prime Minister Davis applauded both the substantive Minister of Social Services and Urban Development (Hon. Obadiah H. Wilchcombe) and State- Minister for Social Services and Urban Development (the Hon. Lisa Rahming) for “this opportunity to review and debate these issues.”

(Scheduled for February 17-19, the forum is being held under the theme: “Eliminating Gender-Based Discrimination in Law.” Among its objectives are to: review the United Nations Discriminatory Law Report and to review Gender Policy, and to Draft a Gender-Based Violence Act.)

“I think we can all agree that our laws regarding Gender-based Violence must be aligned with our values and international treaty obligations,” Prime Minister Davis said. “As Bahamians, we should speak with one voice when we repudiate discrimination against women and girls, and denounce gender-based violence and domestic abuse just as we should be ardent advocates for gender equality and child and family welfare.” Prime Minister Davis said there is a proud tradition in-country of fighting for equality that stretches back to the Burma Road Riots (1942, modern era). The Prime Minister further said that many brave women who were part of the struggle to end racial and political discrimination in this country also worked tirelessly for women’s suffrage.

“My Government supports the U.N. Charters and Conventions on Human Rights, Gender Equality and greater access for the community of persons with disabilities and will continue to legislate and advance public policies to achieve these objectives,” the Prime Minister told his In-house and Virtual audiences.

“As a member of good standing in the United Nations, our country subscribes to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and we did that in December, 1979; our ratification of the Human Rights Convention (October, 1993), underscored our continued commitment to improve the legal status of women in our national life.

“And of course we have passed landmark legislation in this country that furthers the cause of equality, and implemented progressive policies which furthered inclusion and justice. But we have much more to do clearly. “In fact, the Attorney-General – and I suspect he will be guided by some of the recommendations that will emerge from this conference – is looking at what I call domestic legislation to ensure, despite the provisions of the constitution, how we can use the domestic legislation to continue to advance the cause of equality, gender quality, that will lead to an approach to Gender-based Violence.”

Prime Minister Davis said a national consensus on the shared responsibility for preventing, and responding to, gender-based violence is required in the fight to end violence against women.

“To end violence against women, something deeper is required. A national consensus that preventing and responding to such violence is a shared priority and a shared responsibility. To that end we also need long-term prevention strategies which include civic and community involvement, education, and being able to reach the hearts of our people,” Prime Minister Davis said.

“I wish you a very productive few days. May your presentations, deliberations and exchange of ideas during this forum propel our country forward on this path to equality and justice and I encourage your vigorous and passionate engagements so that, emerging from this, will be a Plan of Action to which our government is committed to ensuring is enacted.”