Opposition Senator Michela Barnett-Ellis contributed to debate on the Protection Against Violence Bill in the senate on Wednesday.
Barnett-Ellis echoed concerns raised about the bill by members of the opposition during debate on the bill in the House of Assembly. She said, “meeting stakeholders after a bill has been tabled is not consultation at the formative stage. Meeting with stakeholders without providing a copy of the bill is not consultation. Meeting with stakeholders after a bill has passed in the House of Assembly on the day it is scheduled to be debated in the senate is not consultation. And promising to meet with them to discuss the terms in detail but proceeding with the final stages of passing the bill in this place, in the honourable upper chamber is disingenuous.”
The senator also spoke to the differences in the bill being debates and the proposed Gender Based Violence Bill. “Contrary to the assertions made gender based violence can include domestic violence but domestic violence does not cover all gender based violence. it is limited to violence that occurs in domestic relationships. For example, a woman on her morning run who is sexually assaulted by a stranger or a woman who is raped in her home by a stranger or a little boy who is kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a stranger are all acts of gender based violence but are not acts of domestic violence. Shouldn’t these persons be entitled to the psychological, medical and legal assistance that is set out in the Protection Against Violence Bill?”
Women’s groups in the country lamented in a statement that the Protection Against Violence Bill is not the bill that they have worked on for many years. They also said that the Gender Based Violence Bill was replaces with the Protection Against Violence Bill at the last minute and that the new Protection against Violence Bill does not have key provisions to protect women and girls from violence.
In his contribution to the debate Prime Minister Davis said the difference between the two bills is in name only.