Women’s advocate and Speaker of the House of Assembly, Alix Boyd-Knights, has joined the conversation on women’s rights, calling for prospective rights advocates to familiarize themselves with the laws of the country, in order to make informed suggestions for gender equality.
“Abuse of our girl children, equal pay, child maintenance, domestic violence… all of these issues require potential advocates to peruse and understand the current legislative framework and provisions so that they can make recommendations, not only for greater efficacy of these laws, but also for fairness in this gender rebalancing that we are trying to create,” she stated in an interview on state-owned DBS Radio.
Boyd-Knights referenced legislation on consent between a man and his wife. Currently, Dominican legislation does not recognize forced intercourse between married couples as rape.
“How many persons are aware that a man can perform the most brutal rape on his wife and she absolutely no recourse under the laws of Dominica?” she noted. “In other words, the current state of the law in Dominica is that a wife’s ‘no’ to her husband’s overtures has no legal value. That is where we are at right now…”
Meantime, a member of the newly formed women’s advocacy group, Women Helping Other Women (WHOW), Dr. Hazel Shillingford-Rickets, has revealed the group’s goal is to spark the re-evaluation of laws pertaining to women in Dominica.
She lamented the fact that the legal age of consent on-island is 16, although one must be 18 to legally participate in other vital activities.
“Wealso want to lend our weight behind the legal system, lobbying to get laws passed, to get regulations… We have outstanding to determine the age of children here which there is some sort of disagreement. To vote, you have to be eighteen,” she said, on DBS’s ‘Talking Point’ program. “As a medical practitioner, I cannot treat a child under the age of 18 without the presence of an adult… unless it’s a life or death emergency… Yet still, we are saying that these children can make a decision to have sex at 16.”
She asked that Dominican women unite against such faults, in order to bring about change.
“Let us put every woman together there, shoulder to shoulder, and heave against the system for it to yield. It has to yield. We have got to get something done. We tired talk about it…” she stated.
Shillingford- Rickets called on women in government to make a priority of balancing the societal order.
“We have almost, what, five women in parliament? We are telling them ‘look, you were a woman before you became a politician, and when you finish with politics, you are still going to be genetically a woman… so this is your first priority,'” she remarked.