According to CANA, Bahamian Health Minister Dr. Duane Sands says at least one out of every 10 people in The Bahamas has experienced a forced sexual encounter in their lifetime.
“For the first time also, STEPS shed light on the national prevalence of non-consensual sex acts,” he said, as he launched the 2019 STEPS survey, which surveyed 3,840 individuals throughout The Bahamas in order to get “greater insights into our national non-communicable disease (NCD) profile”.
Sands said that at least 13.1 per cent experienced a sex act against his or her will.
“We want to know what is the reality and understand that there is this hidden secret about unwanted sexual advances, harassment, rape, and to have individuals admit that the number is that high is a startling, striking reality,” Sands said as he responded to a question as to why it was important to include this information in the survey.
“More than one in 10 of us had sex that was not consensual, have been forced to have sex…“For certain that is a very disturbing number,” Sands said, even as he was unable to provide a breakdown of the non-consensual sexual acts, including victims’ ages, their relationships to their perpetrators among other concerns.
A 2016 report by the National Task Force for Gender Based Violence revealed that The Bahamas led the Caribbean in the number of recorded rapes.
According to police statistics, there were 55 reported incidents of rape in 2018, a six per cent increase compared to 2017.
Police said there were 113 incidents of unlawful sexual intercourse in 2018, which includes instances where minors are sexually assaulted.
The survey noted that the average Bahamian engages in sex for the first time at 17. It also noted that 11.4 per cent of Bahamians had sex before the age of 15.
“We are not in the practice of employing protective measures against pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STI),” Sands told reporters, adding “in the recent past, national data on STIs released by my ministry have made the social media and newspaper rounds. STEPS 2019 helps to validate or rationalize these numbers.
“STEPS 2019 revealed that 12.1 per cent of the population has had an STI. Equally as important, 65 per cent did not use a condom and 49 per cent were not on the pill or shot during their last intercourse.”