Officials at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development hosted a meeting with representatives of various women’s groups in the country on the Protection Against Violence Act on Monday. At the time the bill was being debated in Parliament women’s groups released a statement speaking out against the bill. They lamented that the Protection Against Violence Bill had replaced the Gender Based Violence Bill.
Vice President of Women United Lisa Bostwick-Dean spoke to reporters outside of the meeting saying, “there are also portions of the act which relate to what aid is available to a victim of violence but they limited only to victims of sexual violence and we’re saying that the aid that is available should not just be available to victims of sexual violence but as the new act intends to the victims of all violence and particularly some of the aid as it relates to domestic violence definitely should not be excluded from that section.”
Founder of Rise Bahamas Terneille Burrows spoke to the laws protection children and women. “A crime of rape would have a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. I’ve never once seen someone go to jail for raping a child and get a life prison sentence. So we want to say if you’re not gonna give a life sentence for raping a child, you need to have at least a sentence in place something like twenty years or something like that, that’s sufficient. Once perpetrators are charged and jailed we need to make sure that they have access to proper rehabilitation programs because we see that there are a lot of repeat offenders.”
According to the Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Obie Wilchcombe the recommendations will be placed before Cabinet for approval to be tabled as amendments to the current act. The Minister spoke to reporters outside the meeting saying, “we’re further today than we were a year ago. We’re further today than we were four months ago. Where we’re trying to go is to get to legislation that helps us dealing with an issue that we have seen to be taboo. We talked about it for many year did nothing about it but now we’re doing something about it. So even if mistake are made in the process it doesn’t matter, what does matter knowing where we’re going and getting to that objective.”