GENEVA (20 December 2017) – The Bahamas should enshrine the principle of gender equality in its constitution as part of a series of measures to clamp down on discrimination and violence against women, a UN human rights expert has urged after an official mission to the country.
Sex-based discrimination against women is not prohibited in all fields and the principle of equality between women and men is not enshrined in the legislation, which, in turn, results in a weak legal framework for the protection of women and girls against gender-based violence, noted Dubravka Šimonović, the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, after her visit from 11-15 December 2017.
She urged the Government to adopt a comprehensive law on violence against women and domestic violence and to close other legal gaps, for example by outlawing marital rape and by tackling a discrepancy between the age of sexual consent and the age at which women can receive contraceptive and other health services without parental consent.
She said that there was no recognition of linkage between violence against women and the broader context of sex-based discrimination against women.“Violence against women is deeply rooted in persisting gender stereotypes and patriarchy, and sex-based discrimination against women,” the Special Rapporteur said in a statement at the end of her mission.
“In my view, violence against women is hidden, denied and, even more worryingly, accepted as normal.”
UN Special Rapporteur for Ending Violence against women
“The Bahamas has come a long way, but there is still a long way to go to eliminate violence against women and girls, its causes and consequences, that are entrenched in a broader framework of different forms of discrimination against women.”More education on gender equality and gender-based violence, awareness, the setting up of an observatory on data collection, and analysis were needed to help fully reveal the extent of violence against women and tackle gender-based violence, along with more shelters, especially in the Family Islands, a 24/7 hotlines and free legal aid for victims, the expert said.