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We were close to agreeing on amendments to Protection Against Violence Act, advocacy group says

Advocacy group Women United said it was close to reaching an agreement on amendments to the Protection Against Violence Act with Minister of Social Services, Information and Broadcasting Obie Wilchcombe.

Wilchcombe was found dead in Grand Bahama on Monday morning.

“He had promised to work with WU, and I believe that we were close to agreeing the recommendations which we made to amend the Protection Against Violence Act,” said Women United Vice President Lisa Bostwick-Dean.

“I am deeply saddened by the minister’s sudden passing. I was filled with hope that we would achieve great things with him at the helm of social services. He seemed sincere about not just hearing us but actually making necessary changes.”

Women’s groups were pushing for amendments to the bill, which was recently passed in both houses of Parliament.

They want amendments “that will bring it in line with some of the fundamental elements of the Gender-Based Violence Bill”, which they had long advocated for.

The Protection Against Violence Act provides for the protection and support of victims of violence.

The Act calls for a national strategy to prevent and respond to the occurrence of violence and to protect victims of violence; begin a system of information gathering to generate reliable statistics in instances where domestic violence results in death; and allow the country to become compliant with regional and international human rights treaties The Bahamas is a part of.

Shortly after the bill was passed in Parliament in July, Wilchcombe said the government was open to amending the legislation and promised to hold consultations.

Women United said Wilchcombe demonstrated a “genuine willingness to understand our concerns, embrace our ideas, and work collaboratively to address the pressing issues affecting women”.

“Minister Obie Wilchcombe was doing an amazing job ensuring that women and girls received the necessary protections and support through the policies and legislative amendments that are currently being proposed and tabled in Parliament,” stated Women United President Prodesta Moore.