Caribbean News Now | Raising Awareness About Gender-based Violence in Bahamas

FREEPORT, Bahamas -- With funding from the US government, the Pan American Development Foundation (PADF) is launching a women’s initiative for non-violence in The Bahamas. 

Gender-based violence “constitutes a major public health issue” in The Bahamas, according to a 2015 report published by the Bahamas ministry of social services and community development. Three Caribbean countries have among the highest recorded incidents of rape in the world: The Bahamas, followed by St Vincent and the Grenadines and Jamaica, the report states. 

The Women’s Initiative for Non-Violence and Development (WIND) seeks to improve the capacity of law enforcement, the justice sector and communities to respond to and prevent gender-based violence in The Bahamas. The initiative aims to raise awareness and share information and best practices among agencies in order to better address this issue. 

PADF will host four conferences around the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women (IDEVAW), observed on November 25. 

The first WIND conference will be held in Freeport, Grand Bahama on November 29, followed by a conference in Nassau, New Providence, on December 1. Additional events will be held in Marsh Harbour, Abaco (Dec 2); and Knowles, Cat Island (Dec 2). 

“The key to combatting gender-based violence is to bring it out into the open,” said Liza Mantilla, director of disaster management of PADF. “The first step is awareness. In order to tackle the problem head-on, we need to talk about it. Together, we can find ways that communities can work together to react appropriately when it occurs, but also to prevent it from happening.” 

This year’s United Nations observance highlights the need for funding for initiatives that prevent and end gender-based violence. According to the UN’s UNiTE campaign, adequate funding is essential to bring “real and significant changes in the lives of women and girls.” 

With support from the US government, WIND will also provide financial support through grants to nonprofits in The Bahamas to strengthen their programming. 

“Violence against women is a global problem,” says a US embassy spokesperson. “Our hope is that through WIND events, stakeholders will receive the tools needed to take the message of prevention back to their own communities. We are also committed to supporting nonprofits in the Bahamas that are already carrying out the important work of violence prevention and to provide them with the information needed to succeed and grow.” 

PADF operates throughout Latin America and the Caribbean to generate economic opportunities, advance social progress, strengthen civil society, and prepare for and respond to natural disasters and humanitarian crises. In 2015, the Foundation reached more than 17 million people in 21 countries. Headquartered in Washington D.C., PADF has field offices and projects throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.