Categorized | National News

Bahamas To Take Part In Discrimination Conference

The Bahamas will participate in a United Nations (UN) committee that deals with eliminating all forms of discrimination.

Social Services Minister Melanie Griffin will lead a Bahamian delegation to the UN in New York later this week.

The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women consists of 23 experts on women’s rights from around the world. 

According to the UN website, countries that have signed on to the convention – 185 countries in total – must submit country reports outlining how the rights of the convention are being implemented in areas such as education, employment, marriage and family relations, healthcare, politics, finance and law.  

“This meeting will allow The Bahamas to dialogue with the committee regarding what policies and legislation we have put in place for the protection of women, in fact all persons, who experience domestic or family violence,” the social services minister said.

“The dialogue will also allow us to state all of the advancements/provisions we have put in place for the advancement and protection, not only for those persons experiencing domestic violence, but also what we have done in terms of education and awareness and other areas.”

Minister Griffin said she is “absolutely satisfied” with the progress The Bahamas has made to address many of the issues that would be of concern to the United Nations committee – particularly at the legislative, governmental and business levels – even though there “is still much more to be done.”

“For example, in 2007, we would have passed the Domestic Violence (Protection Orders Act), which was a landmark piece of legislation that expanded domestic violence to encompass persons outside of the marriage,” she said.

“Before then, the wider population was outside of the benefits and protection of the law and so that was a strong piece of legislation. It also put in place Protection Orders that women or anyone who are victims of domestic violence could access. These Protection Orders would have replaced the old Binding Over Orders which did not carry a power of arrest.”

Mrs. Griffin said the new orders also addressed stalking and financial abuse against a spouse or partner where one partner withholds money from the other as a form of discrimination, control or abuse.

She said another key area of the legislation was the amendment to the Sexual Offences Act that increased the punishment for rape, which she said, was extremely important.

“I am satisfied that in The Bahamas women have been able to reach the upper echelon of society in both the private and public sector,” Mrs. Griffin said.

“You will find that we have women at key levels at all strata of society be it in government where we have had a woman serve as deputy prime minister and governor-general and where many of the permanent secretaries and other key, senior officials are, or have been, females as has been the case in the justice System. Many women are advancing up the corporate ladder across The Bahamas while many more have had many successes as entrepreneurs and have helped the country to make advances in culture, athletics, banking and finance, healthcare and academia, and so on.”

Mrs. Griffin will be accompanied by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services, Barbara Burrows, in addition to other senior Social Services officials and those from the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Health and Education, and the Bureau of Women’s Affairs.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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