The new Amnesty International report reminds me that women’s rights are human rights and that human rights are in peril the world over. Governments are being challenged by Amnesty to apologize for six decades of human rights failure and recommit themselves to deliver concrete improvements.
“Injustice, inequality and impunity are the hallmarks of our world today,” and Amnesty press release said. “Governments must act now to close the yawning gap between promise and performance.”
Amnesty Intenational’s Report 2008, the organization’ annual global assessment of human rights, published on the 60th anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, covers 150 countries including The Bahamas.
Regarding the issue of violence against women Amnesty reports that Latin American countries like Venezuela, Brazil and Mexico are all taking “important and innovative steps to stamp out violence against women and make gender equality a reality.” However the report states that most of those responsible globally for violence against women were not held to account, “reflecting a continuing lack of political will to address the problem” from country to country.
Research consistently revealed a lack of shelters providing appropriate protection, poor training of law enforcement officials in appropriate investigation techniques, including forensic examinations, and prosecution processes that did not address the needs of women for protection and ensure women’s rights and dignity were promoted. Those women who did manage to get their cases as far as prosecution often faced discriminatory attitudes from the criminal justice system and further intimidation from their abusers.
I was especially struck by the following information:
“Gender discrimination was often compounded by other forms of discrimination. If a woman is black, Indeginous, lesbian or poor, she will often face even greater barriers in getting justice. And if abusers know that they can beat, rape and kill women with impunity, then these abuses become both widespread and more entrenched. For example, Native American and Alaska Native women in the USA who experience sexual violence are regularly met with inaction or indifference. They also experience disproportionately high levels of rape and sexual violence, US Justice Department figures have indicated that American Indian and Alaska Native women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than women in the USA in general. In Canada, government statistics demonstrate that indigenous women are five times more likely than other women to die from violence, highlighting the desperate need for a comprehensive national action plan to address the violence and protect Indigenous women from discrimination.”
(I’m compelled to ask Amnesty International to consider also the experiences of women with disabilities in these reports.)
But here is the biggest shocker of all:
"The Bahamas has the highest rate of reported rapes in the world, according to a joint report issued in March by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime and the Latin America and the Caribbean region of the World Bank."
This horrific fact means to me that our Bahamian goverment is the most failed of all the world's governments when it comes to stopping the violence.