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NASSAU, Bahamas -- The Archdiocesan Catholic Men's Association (ACCMA) will hold a celebratory gala banquet to honour 24 Catholic fathers on Friday June 20th at the Sandals Royal Bahamian Resort & Spa on Cable Beach. The event, entitled "Honour Thy Father", will esteem two fathers from each of the 12 Catholic parishes in New Providence for their service to the church and for their roles as fathers in the community.
Held under the patronage of His Grace, the Most Reverent Archbishop Patrick Pinder, S.T.D., C.M.G., the event will also honour three prominent men and fathers who gave extraordinary service to the Bahamas and the wider Catholic community throughout their lives: the late Deacon Leviticus Adderley, Andrew Curry and Vincent Ferguson.
Also attending will be Governor-General His Excellency Sir Arthur & Lady Joan Foulkes and Chief Justice The Hon. Sir Michael & Lady Camille Barnett. It will feature the Royal Bahamas Defence Force Pop Band and a surprise entertainer.
Event Chairman & Coordinator, Mr. Eddie Thompson, says the church is encouraging as many people as possible to attend and to celebrate the importance of fatherhood in the Church, in families and in society.
"Honour Thy Father will be a major coming-together that focuses on fathers, their family roles and their importance in sustaining a vibrant, holy church and a good society--just as Our Lord intends," says Thompson. "Each parish was only assigned 20 to 35 tickets so we encourage parishioners and families to get their tickets early, before they run out." Tickets are now available from the 12 New Providence Catholic parish offices and from Eddie Thompson.
This is the day the church celebrates the feast of Christ's resurrection, of which Easter is the oldest and greatest feast in the church.
It pays to remember that every Sunday is a little Easter since every Sunday is a "feast of the Resurrection".
From New Testament times Sunday has replaced Saturday as a day of worship; it was on a Sunday that our new life in Christ began.
The good news of Easter is found in its contradiction, death is the passage to life. Early believers ventured into the cemetery in search of life.
What a contradiction. It is precisely in our contradictions we can experience new life and share the good news. Where do we seek resurrection/new life this Easter? Let us dare venture into 10 cemeteries:
o Pre-teen and teen pregnancy: That society would exact justice from those older men who are guilty of such grave an offense. I suggest castration and to the least, corporal punishment.
o That society gives hope to approximately 1,000 teenage girls kicked out of school annually because of pregnancy. The church must lead in keeping hope alive.
o The many young men who stumble into gangster living: Can we preempt this distinction? How many of us sacrifice in making intentional sustained programs/solutions available? How many men's groups are sponsoring a meaningful outreach to our boys? Can we?
o Our men's group invests time, teach a trade, sponsor a uniformed organization, and impart marketable skills in a coordinated system to our boys.
o Broken families: Do we invest in fellowship and spiritual currency to keep them together?
o Divorce courts can be sidestepped and hell-holes of marriage circumvented if unevenly yoked persons are honest with this reality before marriage. Or can counselors fearlessly steer lustful affairs or infatuated desperadoes away from the altar?
o Those in squalor: Far too many Bahamians are living in conditions below human dignity, in the filth of slums. It's even more tragic in knowing that the slum is being born into our children and therefore much of our social problems. People act the way they are treated. Do we need to divest more from the rich so as to rescue the poor?
o The television culture must be zapped: It's the babysitter and the only spokesperson in many homes. We can breathe life by socializing and knowing one another if we talk, chat, relate stories, play games together, etc., while simultaneously giving the television the occasional break.
o Fatherless homes: Pray that more Bahamian mothers will give fathers -- real fathers -- their children. Bahamians confuse sperm donors with fatherhood all too often.
o Accepting responsibility: For the government and its supporters, especially writers, to stop exonerating their shortcomings in light of the short or shorter comings of the former administration.
o To beat illiteracy with an educational system that waits upon and pushes forward slow learners so as to guarantee every Bahamian is able to both read and write.
Resurrection must be real and practical. Let's breathe life into the dead bones of society and our lives. Let us use this Easter to begin to experience a new joy and a renewal of life, bringing sense out of the contradictions life throw to us. We can breathe life into these dry bones.
"He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with me and talks with me and tells me I'm His own. You ask me how I know He lives? He lives within my heart!"
What a testimony!
o Reverend Canon S. Sebastian Campbell is the rector at St. Gregory's Anglican Church.
Fatherhood is a precious gift God gave His people. To be presented with the responsibility of another's life and well-being is a feat to take seriously from the moment one takes up this title. If more men took their role seriously and provided for their children as they should, the country would be in a better state. And getting men to see how essential it is to get back to the basics of praying, protecting and providing in their homes was the message that Archdeacon James Palacious left with the congregation during the Father's Day service at Holy Spirit Anglican Church.
"Being a dad is a beautiful and wonderful thing, but it is not something to do just because you can, Father Palacious told the congregation. "It is easy to be a father, but it's another story to be a dad," he said.
The Anglican archdeacon said men are willing to father children all over the place but forget that the real work comes in raising the child in the right way. He said men have to be everything their children need no matter what life may throw their way.
As a provider, he said a father should aim to meet his children's needs, and that it's not so much about giving into their every whim, but teaching the value of what they do have and giving them what they need to succeed. He also said providing did not mean financially, and that being a good father also means providing for the emotional and psychological needs of children.
"Good fathers make sure their children know who they are -- that they are special and important. Their daughters know they are beautiful and loved. No one else has to come and tell her so. Your sons will know where they stand and what it means to be a young man. They will not be confused or wonder where they belong and seek bad company to fulfill their need to fit in," said Archdeacon Palacious.
The priest encouraged the men in the congregation to also provide the template their sons should be emulating and their daughters should be searching for when they look for a husband one day. He told them that a good father figure should be able to encourage their children and build up their self-esteem and confidence so they are sure of themselves and not at the mercy of the opinions of others.
"Fathers today need to step up and do what they are mandated to do by God. They are to be there for their children and should not be sidetracked into thinking providing financially will suffice," said Fr. Palacious. "Children need just as much to have a sense of love and belonging from both parents."
He said many fathers today are doing their job, but that there are more out there not taking up the mantle.
Fr. Palacious also said that being able to protect children is also a good sign of a good father. Ensuring that children aren't polluted by the world via the Internet, television or even other family members is something a parent needs to do to raise a child right in this media-driven world. He told them that the job of the
father is even more rigorous today because it is easy for children to be influenced, and that it is not easy to control all elements in society which is why fathers should be vigilant and not dump the responsibility of raising children on mothers or other family members.
The Anglican priest also said that setting the right spiritual example is an essential part of being a father and that protecting and providing are all well and good, but ensuring children know how to walk in Christ was even more important. He said fathers should make it a point to pray with their children, and attend church as a family often. And that showing rather than telling is the best way to instill the right values, and to really get children to understand the value of spirituality.
Archdeacon Palacious said God meant for fatherhood to be a privilege within marriage, but that most children are born out of wedlock. He said the child who lives with married parents is a statistical anomaly.
"There is no surprise that the country is going in a downward spiral. We are not doing as God ordained and not all men are living up to what He expected of them. You have to be there more than financially. It is not enough. The greatest things that shape your child cannot be bought with money," the minister told the congregation. "In my family we use the three 'F' words -- free ... family ... fun. It's just about spending quality time. Not harassing your children or stressing out over life. Just have a good time and let them feel loved. This can be a ride in the car or a visit to the beach. You should want to spend time with the kids. They will remember that more than the hundreds you spent on a game or the endless hours you worked to provide for them," he said.
Fr. Palacious said men should be thinking about the legacy they will be leaving behind for their families. He said when their children look back on their youth, that fathers should want them to remember the good times, the fun occasions, the morning prayers and life lessons. And that they should not want their children's only memory of them to be of them working and never showing up to important events in their lives.
"Everyone leaves behind a legacy. You never know when the Lord may call you, so it is best to utilize the time you have to set the foundation you would want your children to build upon. No matter how old your child is, it is not too late to try to set things right and guide them in the ways they should go. God gave fathers a responsibility to be heads of the home and a staple in their children's lives. So to me it is very wrong to shirk this duty," said the priest.
When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the spirit enabled them. [Acts 2:1-4]
The spirit of truth, or the Holy Spirit, gives us power to work in the world. Therefore, as people of God who are united in Christ, we are infused with power to do God's work in the world.
Martin Luther, in his small catechism, explained the power of the Holy Spirit in his explanation to the third article of the Apostles' Creed. He said: "I believe that I cannot by my own reason or strength, believe in Jesus Christ, my lord, or come to him; but the Holy Spirit has called me by the Gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, sanctified and kept me in the true faith."
As we celebrate Father's Day this coming Sunday, we who are in Christ Jesus rely upon the spirit to guide us. He helps us in our daily walk as fathers. Being a father is not an easy task. Fatherhood carries great responsibilities.
A Christian father is expected to be a role model to his children, take them to church, make quality time for his children, treat each child as an individual, teach them to be good citizens, provide for his children and discipline his children.
As a role model to his children, the Christian father must respect himself and the mother of his children. In the home, he should demonstrate love for his wife. Children have a sense of security and stability when they know that their parents love and care for one another. The father should also show good manners and respect for others. Children emulate or copy what they see their parents do. This is why the father should display good qualities.
A father should share his faith with his children. It is good for them to see him practice his faith and demonstrate his love for God and his word. He should take his children to church regularly. This helps to instill the love of God in them.
Always make quality time for your children. There will be times when you will be tired and busy, yet, should your child or children request your attention, make time to listen and give advice. Never be too busy for them. This demonstrates your love and concern for them. During the year, take off a week or two and vacation with your children.
Children are not all the same, therefore don't tell a child that you are disappointed in him or her because he or she is not like the other. Treat your children as individuals. They are different and will not all turn out the same way. Some will be more successful than others. Appreciate them for what they are.
Citizenship is something that children should learn. It is good that they learn it from their fathers. Being a citizen of a country is much more than having a birth certificate or a passport. Citizenship carries responsibility. Children should learn to respect the laws, the institutions and symbols of the state.
A father should see to the personal comfort of his children. He should provide habitation, suitable food, clothing and that which is conducive to the comfort of their existence.
Without proper discipline, anarchy reigns. A father should lovingly teach his children obedience. Through discipline he should correct bad habits.
Fatherhood is a responsibility that fathers should cherish. Children are gifts from God. I beseech you fathers to "bring your children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Amen.
o Reverend Samuel M. Boodle, pastor at The Lutheran Church of Nassau, can be reached at P.O. Box N 4794, Nassau, Bahamas, or telephone: 323-4107; E-mail: email@example.com, Website: www.nassaulutheranchurch.org.
Celebrating its fifth anniversary, The Sandals Foundation, the official philanthropic arm of Sandals Resorts International (SRI), has announced a three-year premiere partnership with NBA Champion Dwyane Wade and his charitable organization, Wade's World Foundation.
Together, the two non-profit foundations will launch programs and initiatives to benefit youth in underserved communities in the Caribbean and Miami.
Adam Stewart, president of The Sandals Foundation and CEO of Sandals Resorts International, proudly takes this step toward fulfilling his commitment to "changing lives, shaping futures and uplifting spirits" throughout the Caribbean.
It is both Stewart's mission and passion to elevate youth development in this region. This passion is shared by NBA champion and Team U.S.A. Olympic gold medalist, Dwyane Wade, who founded Wade's World Foundation (WWF) in 2003 to highlight the education of youth, literacy, health and fatherhood.
"We couldn't think of a more perfect partner for our foundation than Dwyane Wade," said Stewart. "His commitment to changing the game, both on and off the court, is iconic. We know that working together we can make a real difference by implementing programs that will have a positive effect amongst children and within the community."
Commenting on the collaboration with the Sandals Foundation, Dwyane Wade said: "This partnership was a natural fit for my Wade's World Foundation, as we both share the same mission to provide today's youth with the building blocks for success. I look forward to extending our reach internationally to make a positive impact in the lives of children."
The partnership's first collaboration, Game Changer, will give underserved youth access to planned sports, recreation, healthy lifestyles and family engagement as well as other activities, including new camps, after-school training and coaching sessions. The program is set to debut later this summer.
The Maxo Tido murder case has finally come to an end. Almost 10 years after the senseless, brutal murder of 16-year-old Donnell Conover.
I am satisfied that the Crown has proven its case against the number one suspect in this tragic case, Maxo Tido.
Tido admitted that he was with Conover on the night of her death but maintained that he had nothing to do with her murder. His only crime, he said, was that he did not make sure Conover got home safe that night.
While Tido escaped the hangman's noose, he will likely spend the rest of his natural life at Her Majesty's Prisons, Fox Hill.
I listened with keen interest as it was revealed to the court by his probation officer that Tido was abandoned by his mother. It was also revealed that Tido's father was not a part of his upbringing.
Apparently, both of his parents had left him to fend for himself. The revelation of his mother abandoning him is not all that common in this country. What is all too common, however, is the fact that many Bahamian fathers are siring children but are leaving the mothers of their offsprings to fend for themselves.
The problem of delinquent, deadbeat fathers has been plaguing The Bahamas for decades. According to one analyst, since 1976, more than 60 percent of the children born in The Bahamas were born out of wedlock.
Tido, like so many thousands of Bahamians, is just another statistic. I recently heard a psychologist tell the media that more and more Bahamian women are opting to raise their children out of wedlock.
She said Bahamian women are more independent today than they were in the '70s, '60s and '50s. Women are better educated than men in this country. Bahamian women tend to value higher education more than men do. They are able to obtain well paying jobs. However, despite the many strides Bahamian women have made over the past 30 years, a mother can never replace the role of a father in the home.
American comedian Bill Cosby wrote the following in his book "Fatherhood": ''The mother may be doing 90 percent of the disciplining, but the father still must have full time acceptance of all children. He must never say, 'Get these kids out of here; I'm trying to watch TV.' If he ever does start saying this, he is liable to see one of his kids on the six o'clock news.''
American serial murderer Charles Manson was also abandoned by his father. Manson may have never seen his biological father who historians believe to have been Colonel Walker Scott (1910-1954). Manson left his mother at age 14 after years of being neglected and abused by her. She was a 16-year-old prostitute when she had him.
According to one American writer, Manson never had a place to call home or a real family. He spent his childhood being sent from one place to another and trouble always seemed to follow him. At an early age Manson began his criminal career because he never had a loving, stable home. His mother, who was alleged to have been an alcoholic, sold her son to a childless waitress for a pitcher of beer. He was later retrieved by an uncle.
By the time Manson and his followers, the Manson 'Family', were arrested in late 1969 for their killing spree in California, he had already spent half of his life in jail and reform school.
Many young impressionable persons who lack a strong family structure tend to gravitate to gangs and cult groups where they think they will get the love, nurture and security that they never got at home. The Manson Family was no exception.
Manson, according to one writer, believed in 'Helter Skelter' - an apocalyptic race war. The term Helter Skelter was taken from a song written by the Beatles. It means absolute chaos - to lack organization and order. Manson wanted, in his own words, to create a little chaos and to make people's heads turn.
I think that many of the chronic felons terrorizing the city of Nassau are attempting to create chaos. These criminally minded people are usually the products of dysfunctional homes, where the father is - for all intents and purposes - absent.
They know absolutely nothing about going to PTA meetings or taking their sons to the ball park to play baseball or to the beach for a picnic. They know absolutely nothing about disciplining their children when they go astray.
How many fathers in this country take their children to Sunday school or to church? How many of them take the time to assist their children with their homework? How many fathers tell their children that they love them on a regular basis?
I believe that had Tido's parents raised him in a stable, loving home his life would have been radically different. Perhaps he would have been a productive citizen of this country. He might have been a member of Parliament or a senator. Perhaps he might have been a businessman with a successful barbershop in Nassau.
But now he will have to spend half a century behind bars reflecting on his mistake and on what might have been. To be sure, had his parents raised him the way God wanted them to, young Conover would probably still be alive today.
We can point the finger at the prime minister or the minister of national security as much as we want for the helter skelter the capital is presently experiencing, but I believe the fathers of this nation must share some of the blame for the high crime wave that is gripping Nassau. Irresponsible, deadbeat fathers have created a generation of troubled and criminally-minded children. These neglected, abandoned children are responsible for much of the carnage in this country. Until Bahamian fathers start fulfilling their God-given roles in the home, we will continue to be challenged with a crime crisis.
- Kevin Evans
Unlike most Caribbean Constitutions, the nationality provisions of the Bahamian Constitution discriminate against Bahamian women, as is reflected in Articles 8 and 9 in particular. Under Article 8, a child born outside of The Bahamas after the 9th July, 1973 to a Bahamian father, inside of a marriage, shall become a Bahamian citizen automatically at the date of birth. Whereas, under Article 9, a child born outside of The Bahamas after the 9th July, 1973, to a Bahamian mother married to a non-Bahamian father, is not automatically a Bahamian citizen at birth. To become a Bahamian citizen, such a person must:
1) make application upon attaining the age of eighteen (18) years and before the age of twenty-one (21) years to be registered as a citizen of The Bahamas;
2) renounce or make a declaration with respect to any other citizenship;
3) take the oath of allegiance to The Bahamas;
4) make and register a declaration of her/his intention to reside in The Bahamas; and
5) have been born legitimately.
Even after fulfilling these five requirements, such a person can still be denied citizenship on the basis of national security or public policy. These disabilities on a child born outside of The Bahamas to a Bahamian woman married to a non-Bahamian husband constitute invidious discrimination, when automatic citizenship is conferred at birth upon the child born outside of The Bahamas to a Bahamian father married to a non-Bahamian spouse.
Further, Bahamian women are treated less favorably than Bahamian men in granting Bahamian citizenship to their respective spouses. Under Article 10 of the Constitution, any women who marries a person who wishes to become a Bahamian citizen after the 9th July, 1973 shall be entitled to be registered as a Bahamian citizen, provided she makes an application, takes the oath of allegiance or makes a declaration and that there is no objection on the basis of national security or public policy. No such requirement is demanded of foreign spouses of Bahamian men.Ironically, also discriminates against unmarried Bahamian men, who are not able to transmit citizenship to their children; whereas, unmarried Bahamian women can transit Bahamian citizenship to their children at birth.
Further, the Bahamian Constitution does not protect a woman from a law that discriminates against her on the basis of sex.
However, Article 26 of the Constitution prohibits the making of any law, which discriminates on the basis of race, place of origin, political opinions, color or creed.
These discriminatory constitutional restrictions on the right of a Bahamian woman to transmit citizenship, I submit, reflect stereotypical and traditional male perception of the role of women and are contrary to contemporary international humanitarian law.
When examined objectively, these restrictions cannot be justified on the grounds of natural law, contemporary constitutional practice, international human rights law or democratic practice.
Under natural law, a progressive interpretation of the Bible would not support these restrictions. The Preamble of the Bahamian Constitution, in part, provides that the people of The Bahamas "recognize that the preservation of their Freedom will be guaranteed by a national commitment to Self-discipline, Industry, Loyalty, Unity and an abiding respect for Christian values and the Rule of Law." One interpretation of Christian theology, it may be argued, is that, rather than female subordination, the Risen Christ showed a gender preference when he first revealed himself to Mary Magdalene before he revealing himself to his male disciples. However, it is the common fatherhood of God, in the Christian faith that establishes the equality of men and women. The acceptance of Jesus Christ as the basis for salvation, irrespective of one's gender, also establishes the principle of equality between men and women. Historically, portions of the Old Testament of the Bible were used to justify the discriminatory treatment of women and the enslavement of African people. Dilip Hiro, in the book Black British, White British, shows how portions of the Old Testament have been used to justify the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. Eric Williams in Capitalism & Slavery, demonstrated, in compelling detail, that the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade was an economic institution for the benefit of Europe. Walter Rodney in the book How Europe Underdeveloped Africa marshals, in magisterial fashion, the historical data to demonstrate how the rich social, economic and political development
process of the African continent was interrupted by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and subverted into a pattern of underdevelopment for the benefit of Europe.
In support of the economic institution of slavery, religious, philosophical and pseudo-scientific justifications were developed to support this cruel and exploitative institution. Dilip Hiro shows that, through religion, philosophy and pseudo science, slavery in the Caribbean and the Americas was justified by asserting that Africans were the descendants of Ham, the black son of Noah condemned being "hewers of wood and drawers of water" and made a moral equivalence between the black skin of Africans with Satan; David Hume, the British philosopher published an essay "Of National Characters" in 1753 arguing the inherent inferiority of the African; and Charles Darwin's theory of evolution in his book the Origin of Species published in 1859 was used to justify European dominance as proof of the survival of the fittest. Today, we are still dealing with the legacies of this racial ideology that was preached, taught and propagated for 400 years to justify the exploitation of Africa and the Americas to fund the industrial revolution in Europe and European global empire. While the European empire, built on the profits of slavery, has been decolonized, the racial ideology still persists.
Similarly, many of the stereotypes of the role of women in society are also rooted in portions of the Old Testament of the Bible to justify male dominance and the inferior treatment of women. Traditional notions of male dominance are also justified by reference to many other religions and traditions to support honor killing of women, female circumcision, denial of education for girls and the confinement of women and girls to the home. All of these practices, including the discriminatory provisions of the Bahamian Constitution, offend the global bill of human rights and norm of non-discrimination. From a Christian perspective, how can one justify treating women less favorably than men, when both claim a common fatherhood in God and equal right to salvation through an acceptance of Jesus Christ?
These discriminatory restrictions against women cannot be justified under the evolving constitutional and international humanitarian law.
The liberal philosophy of John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau and Emanuel Kant establish that both men and women, as rational beings, prefer to exist, on the basis of equality, in a social contract rather than in an Hobbesian state of nature. Based on these liberal ideas, the world community has affirmed global democratic representative governance and the norm of non-discrimination, linking human rights and peace in the global order.
Since the Second World War, the evolving global norm of non-discrimination and women, with respect to the acquisition and transmission of nationality, is grounded in Article 1 (3) of the United Nations Charter that states that its purpose is to promote and encourage "respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion."
Further, it is also grounded in Article 15 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948; in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966; the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination of 1965; and in Article 9 of the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women ("CEDAW") of 1967 which provides that "1. State Parties shall grant women equal rights with men to acquire, change or retain their nationality. They shall ensure in particular that neither marriage to an alien nor change of nationality by the husband during marriage shall automatically change the nationality of the wife, render stateless or force upon her the nationality of the husband. 2. States Parties shall grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children."
Countries, upon acceding to CEDAW at Article 2, agree to condemn all forms of discrimination against women and to "embody the principle of the equality of men and women in their national constitutions . . . to ensure, through law and other appropriate means, the practical realization of this principle."
The Bahamas acceded to CEDAW on the 6th October, 1993, with reservations to Articles 1, 2(a) and 9. For the past 21 years, The Bahamas has not been in full compliance with the provisions of CEDAW because, in part, of the aforesaid discriminatory provisions in the Bahamian Constitution.
The non-compliance of The Bahamas with the provisions of CEDAW was the subject of our country's fourth periodic report to the CEDAW Committee.
In July 2012 Minister Melanie Griffin and a Bahamian delegation appeared before the CEDAW Committee at the United Nations to explain the current indefensible discrimination against women in The Bahamas. While the Committee commended The Bahamas for such measures as ensuring universal and equal access to education, the Sexual Offences and Domestic Violence Act, the Trafficking in Person, the Committee expressed concern that the Bahamian Constitution and national legislation do not contain an explicit definition of discrimination in accordance with the CEDAW. CEDAW, at Article 1 defines "discrimination against women" as "any distinction, exclusion or restriction made on the basis of sex which has the effect or purpose of impairing or nullifying the recognition, enjoyment or exercise by women, irrespective of their marital status, on a basis of equality of men and women, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural, civil or any other field."
Further, the CEDAW Committee recommended that The Bahamas withdraws its reservation to Article 2 (a) of the Convention and integrates the principle of equality of women and men in the Constitution.
Therefore, the four Bills before Parliament and which, if passed by the requisite majority, will be the subject of a constitutional referendum on the 6th November is an effort to implement the recommendation of the CEDAW Committee.
In 2000 The Bahamas demonstrated the political will and bipartisan collaboration in complying with its international obligations when the Parliament, in record time, passed a compendium of over 20 pieces of legislation to become compliant with the 40 Recommendations on anti-money laundering and the 8 special recommendations on combating the financing of terrorism of the FATF. Today, The Bahamas must demonstrate equal political will and bipartisan collaboration to amend its Constitution to become fully compliant with its international obligation under CEDAW and provide women with a fundamental right not to be discriminated on the basis of their sex.
I recommend a yes vote on the proposed four bills, as will be amended in the course of the legislative process, in the upcoming referendum in order to make our country compliant with its international obligations under CEDAW and to secure the dignity and equality of our mothers, sisters, spouses, daughters and all women in The Bahamas.
The Bahamas prides itself on being one of the oldest democracies in the western hemisphere, having convened Parliament in September 1729. Ironically, it is one of a handful of countries maintaining far-reaching reservations on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
That places us in unenviable company such as some Muslim countries that practice Sharia law. The Bahamas is about the business of fixing this with vigorous parliamentary debates on four constitutional bills, followed by an intense public education campaign that will culminate in a constitutional referendum for enshrinement on November 6 in accordance with article 54 of the constitution.
In short, the amendments to the constitution seek to eliminate gender inequality, discrimination against women and discrimination against unmarried Bahamian fathers. Bills one through four seek to achieve the following:
The Bahamas Constitution (Amendment) Bill 1, 2014: The transfer of Bahamian citizenship
In accordance with Article 54 of the constitution, this bill seeks to repeal Article 8 and make a consequential repeal of article 9 of the constitution.
Presently, article 8 enables a child born outside of The Bahamas to a married Bahamian father (who is a Bahamian by birth) to automatically become a Bahamian citizen at birth, but denies this legal right to a Bahamian mother if the father of her child (born outside of The Bahamas) is a non-Bahamian.
In the latter case and under article 9, the child born to a Bahamian mother and non-Bahamian father can make an application upon attaining the age of 18 and before attaining the age of 21, to be registered as a Bahamian citizen.
Bill 1 seeks to institute gender equality by enabling a child born outside of The Bahamas to automatically become a Bahamian citizen at birth if either of the parents is a Bahamian citizen at birth.
Such an alteration to the constitution would eliminate the need for article , which is therefore repealed.
The Bahamas Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2, 2014: Marriage to a Bahamian citizen
Basically, under article 10 of the constitution in its current frame, a non-Bahamian woman becomes a Bahamian citizen immediately upon marrying a Bahamian man subject to terms and conditions of paragraph two which is designed to protect against marriages of convenience.
Bill 2 seeks to alter article 10 of the constitution in accordance with article 54 to "enable a Bahamian woman married to foreign man to secure for him the same entitlements to citizenship that a Bahamian man married to a foreign woman already has under the constitution." Of course this too is subject to the terms and conditions of paragraph two designed to protect against abuses such as marriages of convenience.
Under paragraph two, the foreign party may be denied registration for citizenship if there is satisfactory evidence of the following:
o The marriage no longer subsists
o The marriage was entered into for the purpose of enabling the foreign partner to acquire Bahamian citizenship
o The parties have no intention of living together after the marriage
o The foreign party was convicted in another country of an indictable criminal offense involving "moral turpitude." Bigamy and polygamy would qualify.
The Bahamas constitution (amendment) Bill 3, 2014: The transfer of citizenship by a Bahamian man to a child he fathered in The Bahamas with a woman he is not married to.
Currently under article 14 of the constitution, an unmarried Bahamian woman can transfer her citizenship to her child born in The Bahamas, but an unmarried Bahamian man cannot. This is the only law that currently discriminates against a Bahamian man based on his gender and marital status. This law has irked single Bahamian men for more than one generation in that they feel that they have all the rights only in making child support payments, but little to no say or sway (including citizenship) as it relates to their child born outside of wedlock. This law cannot be changed fast enough.
Bill 3 seeks to alter article 14 of the constitution to "enable the Bahamian father of a child born outside of marriage to pass on his citizenship to that child just as an unmarried Bahamian woman can presently do but subject to proof of paternity." This amended bill is directly connected to the Status of Children Act, where the result of a DNA test is recognized by Bahamian law as sufficient proof of fatherhood or paternity.
Also, in article 14(3), the word "father" is replaced with the word "parent" to achieve gender neutrality. Since both the father and mother are treated equally under the proposed amended law, singling out one parent based on sex becomes irrelevant and therefore redundant.
The Bahamas Constitution (Amendment) Bill 4, 2014: Including "sex" explicitly as strictly prohibited grounds for discrimination
Currently in paragraphs (3) and (5) under Article 26 of the constitution, the expression "discriminatory" means "affording different treatment to different persons attributable wholly or mainly to respective descriptions by race, place of origin, political opinions, color or creed."
Bill 4 seeks to add the word "sex" to the descriptions of the various attributes. Under the amended law, it becomes illegal to discriminate against a person based not only on race, place of origin, political opinions, color or creed, but also on the grounds of sex. This constitutional move effectively enshrines gender equality as a fundamental right.
It is important to note that pursuant to article 26(4), there are exceptions to this rule such as matters of personal law, including marriage where the Matrimonial Causes Act protects the position of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Same sex marriages will NOT be recognized by Bahamian law and will remain illegal after this constitutional amendment.
In closing, I share the expressed views of the government via the commission that there are urgent moral, national, international and political imperatives driving the need to reform The Bahamas constitution to achieve gender equality and eliminate discrimination based on sex. The Bahamas has international obligations, and our efforts are being closely scrutinized by the international community. We need all hands on deck to bring our laws fully in line with a 21st century free global community. Also, as a freedom loving person, I fully support the expansion of personal rights and freedoms.
- Elcott Coleby
Yet another Bahamian has "put pen to paper" and produced an interesting book! He is none other than Andrew K. Coakley, Bahamian journalist, serving in an editorial capacity at one of our newspapers. And the title of his contribution to the rapidly growing store of Bahamian literature is "My Son, Listen To My Words and Live."
This 140-odd page book is written in a simple, direct style, which is entirely in keeping with its didactic nature. Moreover, the writer demonstrates the ability to maintain the attention of the reader literally "from cover to cover." After all, who is not interested in literary works which are family oriented? If there is one word that may be ...
o First published Wednesday, June 18, 2013.
In 1972, U.S. President Richard Nixon signed a proclamation making Father's Day a national holiday in the United States of America. The day is celebrated on the third Sunday in June and The Bahamas, like many other nations, has adopted this tradition.
The significant role of fathers in the national and social development cannot be emphasized enough. Moreover, the extremely pivotal part of fathers and fatherhood in the proper upbringing of children has never been more pronounced than in today's society. Fathers and father figures must continue to provide the unique nurturing necessary to help boys transition successfully into men.
Questions in today's society
Our society and indeed the world as a whole is plagued with so many woes that raise a myriad of questions and create conundrums in communities challenged by the degradation of the fabric of our moral values. Central to the heart of our societal evils and problems, it appears, is the void created by the absence of the revered guidance and discipline that fathers and the men of The Bahamas are known and respected for. Hence, the debate and queries persist as to the origin or genesis of this abdication of this divine duty to instruct and guide the next generation.
It is important that we take an introspective look and search out the answers to the silent questions that arise in our minds as crime continues to plague our society and our young people subconsciously seek help. Who will stand up and stand in the gap for our young men? Who will be their voice? Where are the fathers armed with the responsibility of nurturing and mentorship? Where are the upstanding men of society who are living a successful and prosperous life but fail to help our young men? Who dares to go into the communities and reach out to these young men and show care? The key word being 'care' - not for exploitation, gain or publicity, but out of genuine concern and care for their well-being.
Our young men are dropping out of school in droves; they are roaming through the streets while others sit on the blocks lamenting their travails and the cruelty of a society in which they feel like outlaws. While some refuse to seek legitimate gainful employment, others are unable to find jobs and pledge their allegiance to the 'street'. They say the streets have raised them and therefore they must be loyal to the streets. Truly this is a vexing issue that provides a challenge to the transition of boys to men.
Rites of passage
The phrase 'rite of passage' often speaks to an individual's transition from one status to another. In this regard, the transition to manhood in the case of boys is marked in some indigenous cultures in the form of a ritual. The essence of this ritual, which is often preceded by successful completion of certain prerequisites under the tutelage and guidance of older men, is the culmination of a period of teaching, mentoring, discipline and impartation of a sense of responsibility.
In our civilization, the responsibility to ensure the successful transition of our boys into good men falls upon each and every one of us and more specifically upon the fathers and older men of The Bahamas. There is no doubt that the family, communities, churches, the government, schools and civic organizations ought to make their contribution. We cannot assume that the other is doing their job and run the risk of no one executing their part. However, the men of today have a significant role to play in determining the future men produced by our country. Today's fathers and men in leadership roles must observe the actions of our young men that are killing one another and have by consequence declared war against themselves. Their actions appear to show unconsciously an aggressive and negative cry for help from the stronger in society - specifically fathers and older men.
It is often said that one cannot give what he or she does not have. How can a man without honor seek to raise an honorable young man knowing fully well that actions speak louder than words? Are today's fathers and leading men in society living a life worthy of respect and honor? The answer is a subjective one, but we must be true and honest with ourselves when answering. Respect for one's self and others is key to the promotion and attainment of peace and harmony in today's society.
Respect for women
We can only successfully tackle our social ills by returning to the basics and the principles that have worked for us as a society. In simple terms, we must teach our sons the common basics such as manners, etiquette, proper hygiene and a growing sense of respect for women.
We live in a society where infidelity, domestic violence, rape and other offenses against women are prevalent. We must return to the days when it was admirable to be a gentleman; a time when it was inappropriate for a male to touch a lady without her expressed permission or implied approval based only on a high level of familiarity. Young men must be taught to address ladies that they have no relations with, with respect, addressing them by their names and not "sweetie", "honey", "baby" and the likes. In today's enlightened and liberal society, there is a thin line between what constitutes sexual harassment and what does not.
The best gift fathers and men can give to boys as they transition from boyhood to manhood is to lead by example. Affection and loyalty shown by a man to his wife as an example go a long way. Men must master the art of conflict resolution and walking away from a fight, rather than fueling the same with violent retaliation. More importantly, morals and values - spiritual or otherwise - must be central to any rites of passage for boys.
Young men are the solution
Our young men must not be seen as the problem, but rather a solution to today's and tomorrow's problems. How can a problem solve a problem? Therefore, we must label them what we want them to be. The young men have strength, and we should utilize it. The old men with wisdom and understanding should use it to address the challenges of the young men by applying the knowledge they have acquired over time.
A salute to fathers
The transition from boyhood to manhood is rarely easy. Today we salute fathers who have taken their rightful place in society and have provided instruction to their biological, foster and adopted sons. Indeed it is their investments in the next generation that gives hope to our dear nation. Even though the celebration of Father's Day is officially over and the festivities have been completed, we honor the men of our country who have been responsible for the transition of our boys into good men.
The fathers and father figures must continue to teach our young men that their manhood is not defined by the level of bass in their voices, the number of female acquaintances they possess, the number of times they have been on the wrong side of the law or how much money they possess. They should know that a man is defined by his honor, dignified labor and integrity. All they need to do is emulate their fathers and they will be fine. Or will they? Happy belated Father's Day!
o Arinthia S. Komolafe is an attorney-at-law. Comments on this article can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.