Minister of Social Services Response to Abuse Talk

melanie responseThere has been a demand for a response from Minister of Social Services Melanie Griffin with regard to MP for Tall Pines Leslie Miller’s outrageous admittance to physically abusing a former partner and later dismissal of the statement as a joke. The people of The Bahamas expressed great displeasure at the statements and the MPs’ laughter which greeted it, joining voices in the cry for the Minister to step into the light and address us.

Days later (and weeks after the actual occurrence), Griffin issued the statement linked here. We respond to her, line-by-line, below.

As the Minister responsible for women’s affairs in the Country I wish to address the issue of violence against women and the recent statements made by my colleague in the House of Assembly.
Hooray! It’s about time!

 

Let me say at the outset on behalf of the Government and on my own behalf, violence against women is not condoned in any form and from any one.
Oh. Does that mean your government does not think violence against women is funny either? We just want to clarify since the message sent on February 20, 2014 is a bit contradictory.

 

Hundreds of women in The Bahamas face situations that cause serious distress, pain and frustrations to them and their children and households, generally.
THOUSANDS of women in The Bahamas have been caused serious distress, pain, and frustrations after being made the laughing stock of the entire House of Assembly. Let’s acknowledge that. Please also acknowledge the increasing difficulty in reporting domestic violence, particularly when it is made light of in the House of Assembly with no reproach from anyone and most regrettably, none from you, Minister.

 

Since returning to office in May 2012, I have actively participated in many international and local meetings and conferences addressing the issue of violence against women and girls.
Were they of any benefit? It seems that was a waste of the people’s money since you are still incapable of addressing your own colleagues on this issue, sitting by and allowing MP for Tall Pines to make the statements he did, and allowing the laughter of other MPs to go without admonishment. The benefit of your attendance is even more questionable following your outright refusal to speak with the press when this first entered the spotlight. We don’t care where you’ve been or what you’ve done. We’re more concerned with your response (or lack thereof) to the harmful statements made by your colleague, MP for Tall Pines.

 

Through the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, the Gender-Based Violence Task Force and partnerships with various governmental and non-governmental organizations, my Ministry continues to highlight this serious scourge in our communities providing public education and services.
Is your government using satire? If you are, we don’t get it. It’s still not funny. We’d love to know how you have been providing education, but skipped your colleagues. It has been proven that they are in dire need of education on the issue of violence against women, and sensitivity training.

 

By mid-June through the work of the Gender-based Violence Task Force and the results of a study being funded by UNWomen, we hope to have a strategic plan to strengthen the coordination of the various agencies that provide services to both victims and perpetrators and eventually to eradicate this ugly menace from our shores.
We’re not sure why a strategic plan is not yet in place, but we’re happy to know one is in the works. Please be assured of our intent to follow-up.

 

We must not be distracted and we must continue to work together to make our families strong, safe and free from all forms of violence.

Oh, trust us. We will NOT be distracted. Not by a flimsy list of partnerships, promises, or the skirting of the issue. We await the PROPER address.

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