Churches to support efforts to tighten legislation on marital rape 

NASSAU, Bahamas (CMC) — The Bahamas Christian Council (BCC) says it is prepared to support efforts by the Government to tighten the law to provide protection against rape for spouses in the period between legal separation and divorce.

BCC President Bishop Delton Fernander said it was the clergy’s understanding that martial rape frequently occurs during that time and the church would stand behind tightening the law to ensure there are penalties for this kind of abuse.

But he acknowledged that while the BCC awaits a meeting with the Government the church remains generally divided when it comes to marital rape.

“This is why our lawyers will be there. We have listened even to your minister of national security (Marvin Dames) who would have put a legal position down [as to] how this can be addressed and we want to know why it’s not being considered.

“Like we say, it should not happen,” Fernander told The Tribune newspaper when asked to state what his personal view was.

“If you are married, under the Christian principles of marriage, you have been given one to another and we see our mates, our spouses, as a part of an extension of ourselves. So, there never should be a time when you want to harm yourself much less raping your loved one.

“We have been understanding that statistics show that most of this is happening in the gap between legal separation and heading towards divorce. If that is the case, let’s make stronger laws. During that period we can tighten that up and the church will stand with it.”

Fernander said while the church understands that some of the legal minds are saying this can be attacked in a different clause, “we want to make it plain, have an understanding when we walk away. Is this the only way this can be dealt with?”

“Our [church] position is divided, as I’ve been saying. The sanctity of marriage is most important to the church. However, they do not stand for abuse, rape, any kind of harm that is happening. We want to solve the problem, but we don’t want to touch the sanctity of marriage. That is fair.”