Marital Rape Bill to remain on back burner

The government has no plan to address the issue of marital rape before the end of the year, Attorney General Carl Bethel said yesterday.

“There needs to be further consultation with all the relevant parties,” Bethel said.

“I think we’re waiting for further comments. I certainly am going to have some further discussion with the view of trying to advance it. Right now, there is no plans to pass this matter at this time.”

When asked if that meant the government would criminalize this year, Bethel said, “No, not this year, not at this time. That would be premature, I think…I feel I need to have some further discussions so I have not pushed it as yet.”

The attorney general said Cabinet has not been consulted on the matter yet.

Asked if the public can expect the criminalization of marital rape next year, Bethel said, “I’m not sure.”

Last year, Bethel said the government would “perhaps” have time for the Marital Rape Bill in 2019.

The controversial issue of marital rape resurfaced in late 2017 after United Nations Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women Dubravka Simonovic said that The Bahamas is out of step with the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) as it has failed to criminalize all forms of marital rape.

The Bahamas ratified the convention in October 1993.

Last year, during an appearance before the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, Switzerland, Bethel said the government intends to criminalize marital rape.

Since then, a draft bill has been drawn up and circulated to stakeholders in the community.

The Bahamas Christian Council has proposed that spouses found guilty of forcing their partners to have sex be liable to a prison term of up to life.

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Jasper Ward

Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues. Education: Goldsmiths, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice

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