PM: 'Why do you want to describe rape?'


Tribune Staff Reporter

PRIME Minister Philip “Brave” Davis questioned on Friday whether it was necessary to "describe rape" in response to criticism over the stalled pace of legislation to criminalize marital raped.

Mr Davis suggested that the Protection Against Violence Bill passed last year sufficiently addressed all forms of violence against a person. He was asked to respond to comments by Bahamas Crisis Centre director Dr Sandra Dean-Patterson that activists have not given up on their advocacy for legislation to criminalize martial rape.

Mr Davis said: “Why do you want to describe rape? Rape is rape. We passed a bill...a bill against violence against persons and if you look at that bill that covers any manner of degradation, or what I call behaviour that's not acceptable to society.”

“Look at the bill that was passed. I don't like this idea of describing rape. Rape is rape, whether you're married or unmarried and the challenge they are having is describing it.

The House of Assembly passed the Protection Against Violence Bill in July 2023. At the time, Mr Davis said he was disturbed and disappointed that some women’s groups announced their opposition to the bill at the “last hour”.

The press release sent last year voicing opposition to the bill was purportedly supported by several women’s rights groups and leaders, including Marion Bethel, the vice chairperson and rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Committee on Women and Girls Rights.

At the time, the advocates said the bill they previously supported was more comprehensive than the one passed and furthered that critical information is missing from the act.

The late Social Services Minister Obie Wilchcombe announced in July 2023 that officials were preparing four new shelters for women, the first of which would be ready in a few weeks.

Pressed on an update regarding a women’s shelter, Mr Davis said: “Well that’s a matter I know that is ongoing. There was efforts to partner with the Salvation Army and I know that is ongoing. We have some private shelters that's operating now through social services, but to have one dedicated building, that's a work in progress.”