Monday, May 31, 2010

What About CEDAW?

What's on my mind? I am asking the question, Why is The Bahamas still not a signatory to the United Nation's 1979 Convention on the Eradication of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)? This document is often called the International Bill of Rights for Women. I was sixteen when CEDAW was ratified, and today at 48 my country has yet to accept this convention. Why? Could it be that we have continuously elected governments which do not care to eradicate discrimination against Bahamian women? Could it mean that we the people do not care that Bahamian women are still second class citizens and perhaps even like it that way because it seems more pleasing to the god of the day? Could it be that we remain a people which elects governments that will not commit themselves to undertake the series of measures to end discrimination against women in all forms, including incorporate the principle of equality of men and women in their legal system, abolish all discriminatory laws and adopt appropriate ones prohibiting discrimination against women

2. to establish tribunals and other public institutions to ensure the effective protection of women against discrimination and

3. to ensure elimination of all acts of discrimination against women by persons, organizations or enterprises.

I think it is that having to abolish all discriminatory laws part that hangs them up. Government MP Loretta Turner made a brave attempt this past year to abolish the law that discriminates against women victims of marital rape but was defeated. Judging from brief comments she made to the papers I would guess that it was the opposition of her own women voters that led to the demise of the proposed new legislation. Too many Bahamian women are co-conspirators with the patriarchy in their own continued oppression. Men don't have to bother keeping us down anymore, we do it for them. The Government doesn't ratify CEDAW because we women voters don't demand it.

I believe some Bahamian women don't demand equal rights because they are conditioned to believe that they might be flying in the face of their god if they try improve their lot by their own hand or voice and don't leave it all up to him. I believe others of us are smugly locked away in our ivory towers and don't wish to trade our false sense of comfort and security for the dirt and uncertainty of revolution, especially if we have managed to get by alright in the patriarchy. But like Madeline Allbright once said, "There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women."

Loretta Turner remains our best hope for real legislative reform that would ensure true equality for Bahamian women. I don't know of one other woman MP who stood up for women they way she has. I want to go on record as one voter who supports her in her efforts. Perhaps Mrs Turner will be the one to pressure the Government to sign CEDAW at last.

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