Friday, August 14, 2009

Thoughts on Marital Rape

So this a blog, and blogs are a reasonably new phenomenon of the twenty-first century. I never thought I'd be blogging about marital rape in the Bahamas, because I thought that, for all it's shortcomings, the Bahamas was still a country that likes to be seen as civilised, and that those Bahamians whose views were so utterly old-fashioned could no longer dominate public debate. I guess in hindsight, I was wrong. I ignored the signs. I ignored them every time capital punishment became the topic of discussion, for while it is possible to argue intelligently about capital punishment, in this country the debate tends to take on a special fervor, and the arguments for capital punishment, most of which have been proven wrong by the way, are usually archaic. I ignored the signs every time homosexuality is discussed, too.

In many ways, the debate about marital rape, and about the government's proposed law to declare marital rape illegal, follows similar patterns, though I have to admit that the enlightened side this time is more visible. At least. However, how politicians of the opposition can come out and argue against the passing of a law declaring marital rape illegal is beyond me. Never before have I made up my mind whom to vote for in the next election so early, because the PLP has, unfortunately, just disqualified themselves.

What amazes me is that the Bahamian public accepts that the self-proclaimed "experts," that is those who should have the answers on issues such as marital rape, are usually male, and more often than not either directly affiliated with the Church or at least use the Bible, a book that is roughly two thousand years outdated as their primary source to construct their case. Then again, some of these folks probably do know a lot about the issue of marital rape from a perpetrator's perspective; at least Rodney Moncur states that he "owns his wife." (Buckles. "Marital Rape Law Has Fools Rushing Into Debate."

Personally, I'd feel more comfortable in my own country if people used information provided by the Bahamas Crisis Centre to learn about the issue, if they have difficulties comprehending why such legislation is needed; the Bahamas Crisis Centre know about the matter from a victim's perspective, too. Instead, Bahamians look to the Church(es).

However, our constitution guarantees religious freedom, and we cannot run this country according to biblical law. Some would probably find that desirable, but there are many Bahamians, myself included, who would rather have a secular government and secular laws. Many Bahamians are abhorred when they hear about the Islamic sharia, yet they propose a Christian "sharia" instead. This shows either utter disrespect for the constitutional value of religious FREEDOM, or - I fear - total ignorance.

If we only bothered to look beyond our rather limited horizon, we would see that the Bahamas is quite isolated in this issue: "The current Bahamian law permitting forms of marital rape stands in opposition to the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women." (Brent Dean. "Bill to Outlaw Marital Rape Proposed." The Nassau Guardian.)

However, I fear that in our arrogance we will tell the rest of the civilised world that they are wrong... please wake me when we finally arrive in the twenty-first century.

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