Editorials

Choosing violence

After the recent tragic death of four-year-old D’Onya Bella Walker, and the circulation of what officials claim were erroneous reports of sexual abuse, there rose an ululating roar among many members of the public for the long-promised establishment of a sex offenders register.

Even House of Assembly Speaker Patricia Deveaux irresponsibly declared from her seat last week her condemnation of child rape to the nation, informing the nation Bella “lost her innocence”, having no evidence and clearly repeating that which she heard on social media.

We note that neither the Progressive Liberal Party’s “Blueprint for Change” nor the Free National Movement’s “Manifesto 2021” speak to anything regarding sexual abuse.

When Minister of National Security Wayne Munroe pointed out that sexual abuse was not involved in Bella’s death, rather she was struck so hard that eight of her ribs fractured and punctured vital organs, many in the public simply refused to believe him, drifting into stories about cover-ups and other claims they heard from other people.

Indeed, there seemed to be a sick sense of disappointment that Bella was “simply” beaten to death and, mercifully, did not suffer the indignity of being raped.

Perhaps letting go of the narrative of sexual abuse in Bella’s case forced too many adults to uncomfortably examine their own violent behavior toward their children.

We note there has been no outcry on social media or among the political class to make corporal punishment of children illegal.

The uproar over the sexual abuse of children also rings hollow in the silence following the published findings of the recent study titled, “Mental Health and Negative Sexual Experiences of Bahamian University Students.”

The study found that 39.6 percent of male and 43.8 percent of female respondents in university in The Bahamas agreed that a married couple cannot rape each other.

The authors noted: “Some respondents in this study indicated that they may have been sexually abused by their husbands.

“Although this study did not ask about marital status directly, when we grouped respondents who were aged over 30 and in long-term relationships (one year or more) together with those who were married, 7.2 percent of these 69 females reported having sex against their will with their partner in their most recent sexual encounter.”

When asked about the study and a possible renewed push to finally criminalize marital rape, Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis last week dismissed a reporter’s question on the matter claiming, “I have too many other things on my agenda to be thinking about.”

Likely realizing how incredibly callous that remark was, Davis, who has condemned marital rape before, stated on Twitter the following day, “Marital rape is wrong.

“We remain one of the few countries in the world where that is not recognized in the law. An effort to change the law should be part of a larger national conversation and consensus. I very much support having that national conversation.”

But we have already had this conversation before – more than once.

Why must we have another?

If he truly believes it is wrong, pass the legislation and let us all move on.

Also met with relative silence in the country was data included in the study revealing that nearly one in four of the 536 female respondents between the ages of 21 and 24, who were enrolled in the University of The Bahamas, said they had been raped at least once.

That compares to nearly one in 14 of the 113 men surveyed.

In that same study, nearly one in four of the women said they had been hit or physically hurt by their intimate partner.

That compares to one in 10 of the men.

Yes, we have a problem with child sexual abuse in this country that must be urgently addressed.

However, we also have a problem with visiting violence on our children.

We have a problem with domestic violence.

We also have a problem with sexual assault and a pervasive rape culture that bleeds into marriages in which women remain unprotected.

As the murder count signifies, we have a deep-seated problem with anger management and a lack of personal morality.

And to top it all off, we have a problem with spineless politicians; most of whom in this country clearly care more about backlash from the wider religious community than they do about eliminating all forms of discrimination against women.

Violence is violence.

It should be condemned in all instances.

We should be less selective as to which forms of violence we choose to be outraged about.

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