Ann Marie Davis, wife of the prime minister, said she supports criminalizing marital rape and believes the government should move forward with legislation to do just that.
“I agree that marital rape should be criminalized and included in the new bill that’s coming out,” she said in a recent interview.
She added, “Marital rape, it happens. After all of the conversations that I’ve listened to, some of the talks I’ve been engaged in with a lot of NGOs, it is now understood for me. For me, it is understood that someone can be raped in marriage.
“I agree that the amendment should take place.”
In 2021, Davis, who heads the Office of the Spouse, said there should be a national discussion on the issue.
Last year, the Davis administration drafted a bill to criminalize marital rape. The bill was circulated to various stakeholders and a one-day symposium was held on the issue.
Attorney General Ryan Pinder said the bill is not an attack on marriage.
“Just to be clear, this is in no means or fashion an attack on marriage,” he said last September.
“If you are sexually abusing your wife in the construct of a marriage, then maybe you shouldn’t be married. That’s not fair treatment of citizens in the country.”
Minister of Social Services Obie Wilchcombe said the government wants to gather as many views as possible before moving forward with the bill.
“We’re hoping to have it done very shortly because in March, we intend to have a national women’s convention that will coincide with International Women’s Day,” he said.
“So, we want to have some of the things completed by then.”
However, some have accused the government of stalling.
Previous administrations have also promised to move on the issue and never did.
Prime Minister Philip Davis has said he believes rape is rape.
According to a study by University of The Bahamas, as many as 30 percent of Bahamian women are the victims of rape in long-term relationships.
Under the draft bill, rape is defined as “the act of any person not under fourteen years of age having sexual intercourse with another person without the consent of that person where he knows that person does not consent or is reckless as to whether the person consents”.
Under the current law, rape is defined as “the act of any person not under fourteen years of age having sexual intercourse with another person who is not his spouse without the consent of that person …”
The Bahamas has ratified multiple international conventions that call for the elimination of marital rape.