New Category : Letters

Letter to the Editor Legal Look at Marital Rape Ruling

Wed, Sep 7th 2022, 05:41 AM

If the 31st August 2022 report of the The Supreme Court’s ruling in a recent divorce matter is true, the Ruling is a missed opportunity of epic and catastrophic proportions. It is a dog whistle to every abusive spouse in this country that has set us back decades in our mission to preserve basic human rights and the rights of women in particular.

I can I almost feel the helplessness in the sentiments attributed to Her Ladyship in this article that “In this place, we interpret existing laws and apply them. We cannot and must not succumb to the temptation to reform laws.” It is clear to me that if she had the power to determine the legality of a spouse ignoring the other’s “feeling of not being a willing participant in sexual intercourse” she would have done sowith the full weight of the law.

Her Ladyship has earned her stripes as an advocate for women’s equality and rights having volunteered along with Dr. Sandra Dean Patterson, myself and other human rights advocates with the Crisis Center. This Justice has presented and lead discussions on the Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Act, to which she referred in her ruling, before and after its passage. She is aware and well versed in the application of this Act and its unfortunate limitations. In fact, there is probably no Supreme Court Justice more personally attuned to the Act and to the human consequences of being a victim of what the Act fails to nail down. While I applaud Her Ladyship’s bold decision to speak on the controversial and emotional topic of non-consensual sexual intercourse during the subsistence of a marriage, especially when the ruling did not in the end turn on it, the ruling was a missed opportunity.

By saying merely that the conduct being complained of met the grounds for cruelty but that “there is no rape in marriage,” the ruling did not take advantage of the opportunity to emphatically remind us all that in certain circumstances there are offenses created under the Act committed when a spouse ignoring the others “feeling of not being a willing participant in sexual intercourse, is in fact a crime, albeit not rape. Section 15 of the Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Act creates the offense of Sexual Assault By a Spouse  in certain circumstances punishable by imprisonment up to 15 years.

How, we must ask ourselves, can Sexual Assault by a Spouse be punishable by imprisonment of up to 15 years but Rape by a Spouse not exist?

The Act does not allow for a spouse to have sexual intercourse with their spouse against their will without any criminal consequences whatsoever. It is unfortunate that the ruling or report of this ruling did not make that resoundingly clear especially after taking the bold decision to address the Act in the first place.

Further it is unfortunate that the case was permitted to be sealed so that we could get the full context of Her Ladyship’s decision. We are left to wonder whether certain words and statements were slips or mistakes in the judgment or error in the reporting.  It was reported that “according to Lewis-Johnson the husband is “correct” in noting that Bahamian law provides for sex in a marriage. She said there is a “right for consummation.”

It is not disputed that marriages require consummation for legitimacy and that this requirement is fulfilled after the first act of intercourse. However, consummation is A REQUIREMENT for the marriage to be legal  not A RIGHT given under the law. Consummation still requires consent for the act of intercourse for it to be lawful under the Constitution which guarantees security of the person and the protection of the law.

The view attributed to Her Ladyship that there is a “right” for consummation according to Bahamian Laws is not one that I can in good conscience support. I am not aware of any law which makes sexual intercourse a “right” in a marriage. According to the report, Her Ladyship opines that this “right” “ought not to be taken by force”. This must certainly have been or intended to have been expressed in more absolute and mandatory terms, as opposed to the casual and discretionary ones contained in the report.

The unfortunate reports of this ruling have resulted in a deafening high-pitched whistle to those who share the views of the male respondent in this case that a “wife’s obligation is to have sex with her husband”.

To the extent that this ruling has emboldened the men and women in our society who think that putting lives in danger for the sake of one sided sexual gratification is a game, it was a catastrophic fail and saddened by the fact that Her Ladyship has personally given so much to this cause and yet apparently felt bound to abide by letter, not intent, of the wording of the law for the intent is clear even if the wording muddies the interpretation.    

These horrendous views need to be eradicated from our society for the sake of my daughters and nieces and yours. This is not a game.

It is regrettable that as a society we have trifled with an individual’s basic human right not to be assaulted sexually. Our male and female leaders have paid lip service to support for these rights and when they involve female victims they have shown a shocking and shameful disdain and mocking indifference which shows no sign of waning.  

We should all cry a collective National shame for the way we have allowed our consciousness to be seduced away from morality and human decency in the name of religion and politics.

Her Ladyship rightly said that “rape is a most heinous act of cruelty and a malicious violation of a person.”  Is there anyone in our society who would disagree that what this spouse endured in her marriage was a heinous act of cruelty and a malicious violation?

It would appear that the court was satisfied  “from his evidence that he lacked concern and did not appreciate how his actions impacted the petitioner.” I suspect the matter was sealed at the request of the Petitioner, still trying to protect her abusive former spouse or herself when she should have nothing to fear.  
On that note I will close with the hardest reality check in this matter. The Sexual Offenses and Domestic Violence Act only goes so far to protect spouses who are victims of sexual and other violence. Typically this protection requires some form of judicial intervention in the marriage before it can apply.

This means that until our laws and mindsets evolve, victims of domestic violence must report abuse perpetrated against them and make their personal safety an absolute priority, above financial needs, above loyalty, above fidelity and above commitment, all of which the court apparently found it important to assure the parties that the abusive husband had met.


Yours sincerely,

Tanya N. Wright

Why I am proud to be a Bahamian

Wed, Jul 6th 2022, 07:09 AM

Tackle the war on crime

Wed, Jul 6th 2022, 07:08 AM

Minimum wage: Will $40 make a difference?

Mon, Jul 4th 2022, 08:02 AM

Struggling to buy gas? Blame Joe Biden

Tue, Jun 28th 2022, 07:00 AM

Dear Editor, Who would've thought that Bahamians would have to pay an astounding $7 for one gallon of gasoline?

A 2022 Chevrolet Equinox gasoline tank holds 14.9 gallons. For Equinox owners on New Providence, to fill theirs would cost $110.11, which is over half the minimum wage.

With New Providence’s daily traffic jams, due to heavy congestion, motorists are consuming large amounts of fuel with no relief in sight.

On Mayaguana, gasoline costs $9 a gallon, which means that an Equinox tank would need $134 to fill.

This fuel crisis is beyond the control of the Bahamian government and is impacting virtually every aspect of the economy.

This is the inflation nightmare we are currently experiencing, in large part because of US President Joe Biden’s climate change policies that have frustrated US domestic oil producers since his inauguration in January 2021.

Biden has attempted to ram his climate change policies down the throats of Americans and it has had disastrous consequences. One of Biden’s first moves as president was the canceling of the important Keystone XL Pipeline project, which would’ve provided the US with over 800,000 barrels of oil per day out of Canada.

In recent days, Biden seems to have eaten his own climate change words, as he has reached out to oil giants such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Shell, Marathon Petroleum, British Petroleum and Phillips 66 asking them to use their high profits to invest with the aim of increasing their capacity in oil production.

It is these oil producers who have endured a hostile environment since the advent of the Biden presidency, living under the constant threat of new taxation on windfall profits; termination of federal oil leases; the obstruction of constructing new pipelines and the imposition of onerous environmentally friendly requirements.

It is these oil producers who have been demonized by climate change lobbyists, many of whom are staunch Biden supporters.

With inflation at 8.6 percent — a 40-year high — coupled with the national average price of $4.98 for gasoline, Biden has seen his overall approval rating plummet to 39 percent, according to Reuters. He is currently more unpopular than former President Jimmy Carter.

The midterm elections are scheduled for November and the Democratic Party is in grave danger of losing control of the Senate.

One of the most vulnerable Democrat senators is Raphael Warnock of Georgia, who has supported the Gas Prices Relief Act in the Senate, which is only a discount of 18 cents per gallon.

Americans are placing the blame for the oil inflation nightmare at the doorsteps of 1,600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. They’re not blaming the Kremlin and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In all things considered, Biden is probably now realizing that the average American household cannot afford his climate change pipe dream.

Wealthy celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Emma Watson, and Prince William and Princess Kate, who attended COP26 can, but most people are financially unable to.

This can explain why 56 percent of Americans, many of whom voted against Donald Trump, disapprove of Biden’s performance.

Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Biden is scheduled to meet with OPEC head Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman next month to prod OPEC to ramp up oil production.

This is the same Saudi leader Biden had called a pariah, due to allegations that Saudi authorities were involved in the demise of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi in October 2018 in Istanbul.

Biden had once promised to reduce his country’s reliance on Saudi oil, perhaps in keeping with his green Earth rhetoric.

I read that Biden also wants to ease sanctions on Iran and Venezuela — two OPEC countries at odds with the US.

However, Iranian and Venezuelan oil has a higher sulfur content than US oil, as US oil firms are under stricter regulations than OPEC. This fact alone has led some US observers to query if Biden considers OPEC oil to be better than American oil.

Another thing, if OPEC member states such as Algeria, Iran, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela ramp up production, wouldn’t that harm Mother Earth? These countries share the same planet with the US.

Remember, the average price of gasoline in California in 2020 was $3.04. That was when Donald Trump was president.

California is a Democratic Party bastion. It is the home of Governor Garvin Newsom and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Biden won California’s 55 electoral votes on 68 percent of the votes.

Today, the average price of gasoline in The Golden State is $6.38.

Understand, the ongoing fuel inflation nightmare was brought upon us by the anti-fossil fuel policies of Biden. When you pay $134 on New Providence to fill up your Chevy Equinox, remember that.

Remember that it is his climate change policies that have brought this crisis on us, not Putin or Volodymyr Zelensky or COVID-19.

It is his administration’s cumbersome regulations that have tied the hands of US oil firms, resulting in this limited supply and high demand crisis.

Be Your Brother and Sister’s Keeper. Choose To Be Vaccinated.

Thu, Jun 9th 2022, 09:30 AM

The coronavirus pandemic has radically interrupted our world over the last two years. Due to the trauma inflicted by this once-in-a-hundred-year occurrence, we’ve had to endure the hardship of social distancing and separation from our loved ones and experience death in a manner unknown by previous generations.

Fortunately, we seem to have overcome the worst of it. Restrictions have loosened, curfews have ended, and many of us are ready to enjoy life to the fullest. It is understandable that Bahamians wrestle with pandemic fatigue but we must not drop our guards before being fully in the clear. Covid-19 has not gone away. In these times, where resuming our normal lives makes it harder to keep the virus in perspective, we must continue to put our health and safety first. This can only be done with the help of Covid-19 vaccinations.

The Bahamas is indeed a blessed nation. While many countries did not have access to the vaccines early on, our tiny nation was able to distribute Covid-19 vaccine shots for free to its people. We should not take that for granted. I have encouraged Bahamians and residents to take the vaccinations as soon as they were available. In fact, many of the country’s religious leaders have encouraged their congregations to be vaccinated. We do this because we believe in the balance between religion and science - we have faith not only in God but also in the knowledge and wisdom that he has given to us.

Admittedly, there was a great deal of mistrust around the Covid-19 vaccines when they were first made available. Through misinformation or a lack of trust in authorities, some had the idea that these life-saving vaccines were harmful to one's health.

These myths have not proven true. Two years later, more than five billion people around the world have received the Covid-19 shot, proving that the vaccines are safe and effective. Moreover, they can reduce hospitalizations by more than 90 percent.

More voices - individual and institutional - need to add their voice to encourage our brothers and sisters to get the Covid-19 vaccination. I am encouraged that an organization like the Templeton Religion Trust, a global charitable trust based in Nassau, is amplifying this message. Their campaign, called Now Is The Time, emphasizes a very important point: no matter why you may have waited, now is the time to get vaccinated. It’s something that we need to hear as Covid-19 cases start to increase in the United States, Europe and even at home yet our vaccination rate hovers around fifty percent. As I said before, the pandemic is not over.

We must continue to pray while we consider the facts, listen to our resources, and make the best decision to safeguard our nation and ourselves against the negative effects of this virus.

As people of faith, I implore you all to take this responsibility seriously. It is with equal passion that, as a fully vaccinated person, I urge you to protect yourself, your loved ones and our country. Be your brother’s keeper. Be your sister’s keeper. Choose to be vaccinated.

Letter To The Editor: Tourism Must Be A ‘Win-Win’ For All

Wed, Jan 26th 2022, 11:53 AM

Dear Editor,
After more than 30 years in the hospitality industry with the last six years as a taxi driver, I am convinced that there must be a change in the building of our tourism model in our country. There needs to be more discussion not only with developers but with Bahamian stakeholders in open forums that could result in a Win-Win for all, especially when it comes to large-scale developments.

In my view, when it comes to larger developments there seems to be less ownership opportunities for Bahamians. These agreements focus largely on us becoming employees with a greater dependence on foreign investors. And even worse, we continue to place our tourism product in the hands of a select few which, in my view, weakens our bargaining power. This means that if the foreign entity decides to leave, we suffer because the jobs are directly attached to the development. The latest example of this is the imminent closure of the British Colonial Hilton Hotel where some 100 persons will more than likely lose their jobs as a result of these types of agreements.

Foreign direct investments should create a win-win situation for everyone. However, we have seen in the past that these deals negatively affect small, local businesses because we depend so much on them, they seem to indirectly control our destiny.

I think the time has come for deals struck with foreign investors to go beyond just jobs and extend into long-term ownership opportunities such as shares/profit sharing and true win-win business partnerships. We need to ensure that Bahamians are prepared through genuine training that does not simply focus on executives at the top but also impacts the average Bahamian in the community.

With billions of dollars coming into this country and with many favorable assets, I believe our government should not make deals from a point of desperation but from a position of strength. Foreign investors should be encouraged to form strong partnerships where we all benefit and once again get a win-win result. And that means, beyond jobs with a focus on more Bahamian ownership.

Case in point, the Royal Caribbean Beach Club project which is being proposed on Paradise Island. In my view, the drawbacks seem to outweigh the benefits.

For years, we’ve heard Save the Bays and other prominent environmentalists lobby to preserve the environment in Grand Bahama and the Family Islands in the face of major developments. Now I’ve learned that Protect Our Islands Fund and others have begun advocating for the same due diligence when it comes to the construction of the Royal Caribbean Beach Club on Paradise Island.

This project appears to be long on promises and short on particulars. For instance, developers have not answered how pollution and waste will be properly managed with the increased volume of cruise ship passengers set to visit Paradise Island. I think the new government’s responsibility should be to ensure that our natural environment is managed in such a way to sustain economic growth for the long-term.

This Beach Club project seemed to have been given the go-ahead with little consideration for us taxi drivers or for hair braiders, ferry boat operators and other everyday Bahamians who must operate in the hospitality environment. In my view, there is a very real possibility that this development could deliver a death blow to other tourism hot spots like downtown which is already hurting economically and needs investments not competition.

We must look at the real needs of Bahamians rather than the wants of developers and ask ourselves some relevant questions like, how does this project improve the quality of our lives as Bahamians? How will this move us closer to ownership as Bahamians rather than just jobs? How does it diversify our current offerings? More importantly, why are we still accommodating developments that are at odds with environmental sustainability?

My hope is that more developers of large-scale projects will have to go through a full public review where we, as stakeholders, will be involved in the process that influences the final decision.

I call on the current administration to reconsider the Royal Caribbean Beach Club project and reveal all of the details to the Bahamian people. I think this should not be a done deal when there are so many questions with answers still pending.

At the end of the day, we must always remember that The Bahamas belongs to Bahamians and not to persons who may come in, reap the benefits and then decide to move on.

Mr. Kenyatta Nairn