Friday, March 7, 2014

Domestic Violence is not a joke, Leslie Miller

 Why Domestic Violence Isn’t Funny Mr. Miller 

Author: Danelle Rolle -

Danelle Rolle -
As a Bahamian student studying abroad, I try to keep as updated as I can about what’s going on in my country. While having a down moment on Facebook I came across a video of one of my nation’s Members of Parliament (M.P.’s), the Hon. Leslie O. Miller, speaking in the House of Assembly during the mid-year budget debate. (For those of you that are unaware, the Bahamas still operates on the British parliamentary system).

In the video, which can be viewed here, Mr. Miller uses a domestic violence scenario to illustrate a point on “the idea of love”. I’ll admit that I am not aware of what was said prior to or post of this clip. However, as a young Bahamian woman of voting age, what I saw in that 1 minute and 13 seconds left me utterly appalled, ashamed and angry at my country’s representation. Mr. Miller claimed that what he said was just in “jest”, however due to the global extent of domestic violence there are many reasons why it is no laughing matter.

Domestic violence against women, especially by a partner, is a major public health issue and a violation of women’s human rights[1].  Worldwide, 35% of women have reported either “physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence”[1]. With over 3 billion women in the world, a billion of them have had their rights infringed upon specifically by someone they knew. Is it still funny now, Mr. Miller? Additionally, up to 38% of the world’s murders where the victims are women, occur at the hands of an intimate partner[1].  In the Caribbean region alone, 25% of the murders committed are a result of domestic violence/relational disputes[2]. With roughly 1200 cases of domestic violence being reported annually in the Bahamas[2], is it still funny now, Mr. Miller?

Aside from the obvious initial physical trauma, domestic violence can have other negative effects on a woman’s health. For example, women who have suffered intimate partner abuse can experience depression and post-traumatic stress disorder – the two most prevalent mental-health issues that arise post abuse[3]. Knowing that these women experience mental effects that are still present long after the bruises disappear, is it still funny now, Mr. Miller?

There are also economic repercussions to domestic violence against women. According to the World Health Organization, women may be unable to work post abuse, which can result in “ loss of wages, lack of participation in regular activities and limited ability to care for themselves and their children”[1].  As a member of the governing body who is responsible for our economic stability, is it still funny now, Mr. Miller?

I do not want to make it seem as if Mr. Miller was the only one wrong in the situation. Although he initially made the poor joke, every M. P. that found it funny is just as culpable as he is. I was especially disheartened to see the Hon. Cleola Hamilton, another M.P AND woman, laughing at what Mr. Miller said. Many women do not leave abusive relationships because of the shame they feel. By laughing at their situation, these M.P.’s could have possibly deterred many Bahamian women from seeking help. If their own leaders are making a mockery of their situation, why won’t others?  With elections only a few years away, many voters – especially female voters – won’t forget how a major issue that affects us was made “sport of” by our nation’s leaders. With the disrespect and insensitivity shown forever engrained in our memories, is it still funny now, Mr. Miller? 

[1] The World Health Organization (2013). Violence against women. A WHO publication. (Accessed March 2014).

[2] Maura, M. (2012).  Domestic violence in The Bahamas accounts for 25 percent of regional murders. A publication. (Accessed March 2014).

[3] Campbell, J.C. (2002). Health consequences of intimate partner violence. The Lancet. Vol 359, 1331-1336

March 06, 2014