WDI Bahamas express their concerns about the Mental Health (Amendments) Act 2022.
This is a letter written by WDI Bahamas to the Bahamian Minister of Health regarding the Mental Health (Amendments) Act 2022.
November 19th, 2022
We wish to write to you as it relates to our concerns regarding the recent Mental Health Act (Amendments) 2022.
We wish to bring to your attention a concern that the Women’s Declaration International Bahamas Chapter has with the current Mental Health Act and the recent amendments to be made to the bill.
We believe that the amendments should reflect more than what is being proposed.
We also believe that the government of the Bahamas should explain statements made in the media relevant to moving away from criminalizing mental health for the alternative of protecting human rights.
While our concern does not ultimately align with the current state of what the bill and its amendments seek to redress, we wish to draw to your attention Article (2) that covers interpretation of the current Act that speaks to promiscuity.
The law states as follows:
(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed as
implying that a person may be dealt with under this Act as
suffering from any form of mental disorder by reason [only]
of promiscuity or other immoral conduct.
We believe that this clause not only reflects patriarchal legislation entrenched in Bahamian law but can also be discriminatory toward women and the health services that can be made readily available to them.
The Bahamas and its Constitution was founded on traditional Christian values it is our belief that all women deserve access to services and care that should be provided by the government of the Bahamas according to the aforementioned.
It is our belief that the government of the Bahamas must engage in a proper consultation process to address the concerns that impact women.
We believe that women’s rights organizations like WDI Bahamas can properly engage in presenting justified arguments by expert medical health professionals as well as women, gender and sexual studies professionals, that support our belief that hyper-sexuality is a form of mental illness and is also prevalent in women and girls who suffer mood and personality disorders and social stress that can lead to sexually transmitted diseases.
It is our belief that it is the responsibility of the Bahamas government to prioritize the wellbeing of women and girls while addressing these concerns and making sure that women and girls are not exploited for sexual activity that leads to a path of sexual promiscuity and or sex work.
We ask that the government would seek to provide proper access to services that facilitate a true sense of measurable care for women and girls that can reverse or avoid further damage to its female citizens.
While we fully support the Bahamas government in any policy and legislative changes that support human well-being, we also wish to state that we can only support the Davis administration when you can ensure that women will be provided access to services that include sexuality as well as family focused services and programmes that also ensure that women and girls are protected when faced with factors like family dysfunction, that lead to this behavior.
The government of the Bahamas should take caution to ensure that our concern is addressed as it's amendments to the Mental Health (Amendments) Act 2022 do not support in its true sense health services for women and girls who suffer mental illness.
We look forward to hearing from you on this matter!
Rochelle R. Dean
Country Contact, WDI Bahamas