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(CMC) – The Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, Frankie Campbell, who told reporters he wanted to stay in his lane, as it regards to dealing with the increasing number of rape cases in the Bahamas, has apologised at the perception that he is not sensitive to the issue of gender violence.
“I am humbled at the opportunity to speak to mothers, fathers, women and girls, victims of rape, abuse and violence, and anyone else who may have been offended by a video recording of me that is in circulation.
“I apologize for what seemed to be insensitive as I responded to media personnel. I was merely trying to avoid what appeared to be encroaching on another minister’s portfolio,” Campbell said in a broadcast late Thursday.
Earlier this week, responding to reporters’ questions about the increase in the number of rape cases in The Bahamas, Campbell said he wanted to make it clear that his Social Services Ministry “is about poor people, who need food, social assistance….”
“Someone told me earlier this year that there are 12 months in the year. Spend the first six months minding my business, the next six months staying on other people’s business and I will be fine. Don’t ask me about rapes,” he told reporters.
Asked whether from a social services standpoint there’s work to be done regarding the rapes, Campbell responded “you are talking about crime, you are talking about crime prevention. Social Services is about poor people who need food, people who need social assistance”.
“You could see I am trying to avoid that, I don’t mind talking to you but I want to stay in my lane,” Campbell added.
But in his 3.14 minute broadcast, the minister said he is fully aware of the duties and core functions of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development which includes, but is not limited to, food assistance, shelter for all victims, including rape victims and victims of trafficking in persons, school and uniform assistance, the elderly, child protection, rehabilitation and persons with disabilities.
“This incident has caused persons to question my familiarity with the 2015 Strategic Plan to address Gender-based violence. I am pleased to note that in the six months that I have been the minister, I have partnered with the Crisis Centre, the Caribbean Men’s Group, the Zonta Club, the Pilot Club, the United States Embassy, UN Women and a number of NGOs in an effort to bring this very strategic plan to fruition. “
Campbell said as a father of four children, including three daughters “I am committed, along with the ministry and its dedicated staff and all of our NGO partners, to honour, advance and promote all of the Conventions to which The Bahamas is a signatory”.
He said in pursuit of the government’s zero tolerance against all rapes and violence, his ministry is doing pursuing such an initiative and that “I want nothing but the best, as I do for all girls and women of our Bahama land, this is more than just a job”.
Last year, police reported 55 rapes across the country, up from 52 in 2017.