Do Our Parliamentarians Condone Abuse Against Women?
Leslie Miller’s recent comments from the floor of Parliament last week speak to an issue that women in this country, and around the world, have faced for decades. The idea that any sort of violence against women has become laughable to the nation’s legislators is unfortunate, unacceptable but sadly unsurprising. Gender based violence in the Bahamas is real. It is a reality with which hundreds of women and girls face every day and everywhere.
Sadly, women who are being abused by their husbands or boyfriends continue to remain silent living in fear of their abusers, many of whom are high profile individuals not unlike Mr. Leslie Miller himself. It is disappointing to know the very people that should advocate for stronger laws to protect the rights of women are the ones making a mockery of women, especially those who are “victims”.
Mr. Leslie Miller has since attempted to back pedal from his comments. At the time, the Tall Pines Member of Parliament was attempting to draw a comparison between the FNM’s self-proclaimed love of the country’s fishermen while likening it to a husband who daily beats his wife as a way of demonstrating his love. Those comments, he says, were made in jest. As a father and a grandfather, I wonder if Mr. Leslie Miller would find the abuse of his own daughters at the hand of someone else equally as amusing.
What is even more shameful is the number of Parliamentarians who laughed along with him and others, while female members of government remained silent. As President of the DNA Women’s Alliance, I find these remarks extremely offensive and disturbing. The fact that Mr. Leslie Miller was not rebuked in that moment also gives me cause for great concern.
We do not elect Members of Parliament to be regaled with stories about their distorted sexual relationships. We do not elect them to be comedians at the expense of Bahamian women. We elect them to defend the rights of ALL BAHAMIANS and with women making up a large section of the voting public, we elect them to defend the rights of ALL WOMEN.
Are these the types of persons whom PM Perry Christie has deemed fit to lead? Does he himself condone the disrespect of Bahamian women, many of whom voted for him during the last general election? We demand that Mr. Christie offer an explanation for his silence on this very serious issue. He too, must answer for his apparent inability to curb the inappropriate behavior of members of his own government.
Just over a month ago, the DNA Women’s Alliance launched a campaign to “Break the cycle of abuse on women and children”. The forum encouraged men and women to break the cycle of abuse by breaking the silence and speaking out against violence and reporting their abusers.
Perhaps Mr. Leslie Miller would do well to attend one such forum. Perhaps then, his hands as he put it would become tired or hurt, not from physically assaulting a woman, but rather from helping to build up the country’s communities. Perhaps Mr. Leslie Miller would prefer that the voting public gave him the ‘break’ which he asked for by having him removed as the representative for Tall Pines.
This is a very serious matter, and we expect our Members of Parliament to be in our corner, and support us on this matter. The women of the Bahamas are owed an apology, immediately. Point, Blank, Period.
DNA Women’s Alliance President
March 06, 2014
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