Sunday, March 9, 2014

Leslie Miller's domestic abuse comments in the House of Assembly “perpetuates and encourages violence against women” ... says Bahamas Crisis Centre Director, Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson

Crisis Centre rebukes abuse comments

Says MPs’ voices needed in fight against domestic abuse

Guardian Staff Reporter
Nassau, The Bahamas

A recent comment on domestic abuse that Tall Pines MP Leslie Miller made in the House of Assembly “perpetuates and encourages violence against women”, Bahamas Crisis Centre Director Dr. Sandra Dean-Patterson said yesterday.

During his contribution to the mid-year budget debate in the House of Assembly, Miller suggested that he physically abused an ex-girlfriend, but later said those comments were made in “jest”.

While not seeking to criticize Miller, Dean-Patterson said his remarks bring much needed attention to the issue of domestic violence, which she said is readily accepted and tolerated in the Bahamian society.

“So to hear leaders and respected parliamentarians joke about behavior such as this only serves to reinforce perpetrators in their belief that they have a right to beat women and it feeds into the misogynic attitude that many people have that objectifies and sexualizes women,” said Dean-Patterson at a press conference at the Crisis Centre.

“This continued acceptance and tolerance occurs because of the acceptance of the myths and belief systems that support it, such as the one expressed on the floor of the House of Assembly that women like beatings...and provoke you to do it.”

Miller has since apologized for his comments. He said he has never abused women.

Miller made his original statements as he criticized the opposition for allegedly not standing up for Bahamian fishermen while it was in government but seeking to put pressure on the present government to assist them.

He compared the behaviour to an abusive relationship.

“Today they come in here preaching about their love for the fishermen,” said Miller, referring to the opposition.

“My God, that’s your idea of love? That’s like beating your wife or your girlfriend every time you go home.

“You just beat her for looking at her. I love ya. Boom, boom, boom.

“I had a girlfriend like that. When I didn’t beat her she used to tell me I ain’t love her no more cause I don’t hit her.

“But seriously, I had one like that. I had one. She used to tell me,” he insisted as other members murmured and chuckled.

House Speaker Dr. Kendal Major injected, “We know that you’re joking with that.”

However, Miller said he was “serious with that”.

Miller said his hand used to hurt from the abuse he administered.

Following that statement, Miller acknowledged that his analogy was in poor taste.

He said he meant no harm and pledged to contribute a minimum of $1,000 to the Crisis Centre.

Dean-Patterson commended Miller for apologizing.

She said parliamentarians must join the fight against domestic abuse.

“It’s their voices that people need to hear and not laughter that perpetuates and bolster the myths and encourage intimate partner violence,” she said.

“…We all talk about the anger in our nation. We need to look at how we can make our homes more nurturing and safe…It’s our responsibility to rid our nation of this scourge.”

March 08, 2014