Family Protection In Mauritius, Including Gender-based Violence

Family protection is an important aspect of any society because the family is a small unit and families make up the society. Happiness and peace including safety are determinants of a healthy society. In Mauritius, the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare is responsible for family protection including gender-based violence, domestic violence, child abuse, elderly abuse, family conflict and conflict among neighbours. Police Family Protection Unit (PFPU) was set up in 1994 with the aim of providing specific services to vulnerable in Mauritius. PFPU is decentralized on a regional basis with a special policing approach for its operation with some underlying principles such as welcoming phase, active listening, individualism, non-judgmental attitude, freedom of decision and confidentiality.

The concept of Gender-based Violence (GBV)

Gender-based violence (GBV) is simply harmful acts perpetrated against a person based on socially ascribed differences between males and females. While the broadest interpretation of GBV is sometimes understood to include specific types of violence against men and boys, the term has historically been and continues to be used primarily as a way to highlight the vulnerabilities of women and girls to various forms of violence in settings where they are discriminated against because they are female. Examples of GBV affecting women and girls throughout the lifecycle include but are not limited to: sex-selective abortion, differential access to food and services, sexual exploitation and abuse, child marriage, female genital mutilation, sexual harassment, dowry/bride price abuse, honour killing, domestic or intimate partner violence, deprivation of inheritance or property, and elder abuse.

The UN General Assembly, in adopting the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defined gender-based violence as: “any act of violence that results in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women; including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life” (Population Reference Bureau, 2001 pg. 3). While, “Intimate partner violence is actual or threatened physical or sexual violence or psychological or emotional abuse directed towards a spouse, ex-spouse, current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, or current or former dating partner”.

Furthermore, Gender-based Violence means physical, psychological, mental, economic or sexual harm or suffering, coercion and other deprivations of liberty (including incidents of Domestic Violence, sexual violence, dating violence, and stalking, but not including acts of self-defense) that are directed against a person based on gender and committed, attempted or threatened; by or against Employees, and/or , against Employees’ families or property; and Physical, sexual and psychological violence occurring within the general community, including rape, sexual abuse, stalking, trafficking in women, forced prostitution, and sexual harassment or intimidation at work, educational institutions and elsewhere.

Grasping the full extent of violence against women is difficult everywhere.   In some places, it can be both difficult and dangerous for the abused to report abuse given social attitudes toward the roles of women and men within the family. And violence against girls and women embodies the problem. Only a portion of the scale of violence against vulnerable groups is captured.  Social norms seemly are at play; the society has made people believed that there are circumstances that justify wife battery particularly in the Africa setting.  This is not only common in Mauritius but in other nations. About 70% of Jordanian women think so. Over 34% of Jordanian women report that they have experienced some form of physical violence since the age of 15.  One in three Jordanian women experienced some form of emotional, physical, and/or sexual violence from their spouse, and almost 1 in 10 experience sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. One of the major concerns resulting from the survey is that almost half (47%) the women reporting violence did not seek any type of help, with less than 5% taking steps to address sexual violence.  Very few women seek help from medical providers, police, lawyers or social service organizations (Paul, 2015).

Paul (2015) stated that one in three females around the world will experience physical and/or sexual violence two forms of gender-based violence (GBV) – in her lifetime. Conflict and disasters magnify this life-threatening human rights violation, making GBV in emergencies (GBViE) one of the greatest challenges faced by emergency-affected communities around the world.

Domestic violence in Mauritius

Statistics obtained from Gender links sadly reveal that globally 1 out of 5 women is a victim of Domestic violence. Domestic violence in Mauritius, show even higher figures and reveals that 1 out of 4 women is a battered woman or victim of some sort of domestic violence. The misconception that domestic violence occurs only in working class and in rural areas is a myth because domestic violence affects women from all areas, walks of life, race, religion or level of education.

The concept of domestic violence and the Domestic Violence Act 1997 amended in 2004, defines domestic violence as any act of violence by a person against his/her spouse, mothers battered by their sons, daughter in law abused by their mother in law and all children abused by their parents. The amendment now stipulates the punishment of any act of violence committed under one roof (Mauritius News, 2004).

The Act defines domestic violence as: “Any act of physical, mental or sexual violence, any attempt of such violence and/or the forcible restriction of individual freedom and of privacy, carried out against individuals who have or have had family or kinship ties or co-habit or dwell in the same home”. Mauritius is fully involved in combating this menace; this is evidence as Mauritius is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Also, under the Protection from Domestic Violence Act; structures for the provision of 24 hour service, free legal assistance and psychological counseling have been set up (Anonymous, 2018).

The Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare

United Nation recommended that member states should set up appropriate mechanisms for implementation of policies as well as programs pertain to protection of families hence, this birthed the Ministry of Gender Equality has set up a Family Welfare and Protection Unit since July 2003. The objectives of the Family Welfare and Protection Unit include; implementation of policies and strategies to promote family welfare, and adaptation of relevant strategies and implementation of actions to address the problem of Gender-Based Violence including Domestic Violence.

Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare is fully in charge of Family Protection including Gender-based Violence with the following objectives:

  • To promote and defend women’s rights as human rights, work for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and ensure that legal measures are taken to promote equality between men and women.
  • To implement gender-sensitive macroeconomic policies and strategies, including those related to poverty alleviation.
  • To promote and defend children’s rights as human rights, work for the elimination of all forms of violence and discrimination against children defined as being the age bracket of 0-18 years and ensure that legal measures are taken & mechanisms are put into place to promote safety and security of children
  • To promote the development and welfare of children from the very tender age in accordance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), to promote the family welfare and to combat gender-based violence.
  • To promote the welfare and empowerment of citizens through community-based programmes for an inclusive society.

The Mauritius Ministry of Gender Equality provides services to victims and perpetrators of GBV together with Domestic violence via the family support Bureau. Basically, there are six regional Family Support Bureau around the island which are part of the Family Welfare and Protection Unit charged with services such as; first hand counseling, psychological counseling, legal advice, assistance to victims of domestic violence and counseling services to perpetrators (According to the Protection from Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act 2007, district Magistrate can refer perpetrators of domestic violence for Psychological counselling to the Family Support Bureau)(Anonymous, 2018).

In 2016, a training program on the Victim Empowerment and Abuser Rehabilitation Policy for officers of the Human Resource Cadre from the manufacturing sector was launched in Bagatelle. There, Perraud (2016), reiterate Government’s commitment to combat gender-based violence in a statement that “Gender-based violence is a national concern that ranks high on Government’s agenda and great efforts are being deployed to address the issue”

Furthermore, the minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare in the same year emphasised on measures to be put in place and implemented like; National Coalition against Domestic Violence team which mark out the action of all stakeholders involved in fighting gender-based violence; adoption of the new Protection from Domestic Violence Act to afford better protection to victims of domestic violence; and the setting up of a command centre for domestic violence that will act as a one-stop department for all issues pertaining to domestic violence including support to all members of family. However, the current status of the above proposal cannot be as ascertain. Regrettably, that gender-based violence is corroding the elements of society’s foundation and there is a need for collaborative effort by all sectors including private and public as well as the civil society to combat domestic violence.

Impact of Gender-Based Violence

Gender-based violence has numerous impacts on the health, dignity, and security of an individual resulting in loss of productivity at the workplace, as the role of the human resource is crucial in the promotion of a healthy family and working environment. In Mauritius, the Victim Empowerment and Abuser Rehabilitation Policy is a program focused on the human resource cadres of both the private and public sectors. It is one of the mainstays of the National Costed Action Plan which was launched in 2012 that aims to enlist the support of diverse partners and stakeholders in fighting gender-based violence. This program was aimed at expose stakeholders with the appropriate tools to assist effectively both abusers and victims to end the vicious cycle of domestic violence. Also, it extends to harness collective efforts in eliminating gender-based violence. Further, to contribute as well as set guidelines for establishing workplace initiatives to fight gender-based violence. This approach applies to both the public and private sectors (Perraud, 2016).

In addition, the issue of intimate partner violence in Mauritius; the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare considered implementation on strengthening of existing legislations, prevention, and capacity building of stakeholders according to the report of the minister (Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo), in a report at the National Assembly. “She added that the Action Plan will enable better coordination among stakeholders dealing with victims of domestic violence”.

University of Mauritius was involved in a study on the issue of violence titled “on the prevalence, causes, consequences and costs of Intimate Partner Violence on the Mauritian Economy”; the study revealed that the incidence for women who experience intimate partner violence in the extreme case is 43 times on average for a victim, approximating one episode per week. The findings from the study suggested that women who are victims of intimate partner violence suffer silently without any supporting network such as parents, friends, colleagues and others. The study further estimated the monetary value of the burden of intimate partner violence in the form of physical, psychological and sexual abuse on the economy at Rs 2 billion. It stated that for women victims in the occasional group, an intimate partner violence episode spill over three days of work while for women in the extreme group, the number of unproductive days is four on average. This study was however validated in a two-day workshop in May 2017.

Jeewa-Daureeawoo in 2017 stated that cases are been reported to Police and the Family Support Bureaux and legal actions are taken up for instance, as at December 2016 report has it that 3,250 offense related cases under the Protection from the Domestic Violence Act, including breach of Protection and Occupation Orders, were reported to the Police and about 1,616 cases to the six Family Support Bureaux. Also, within the same period, 382 persons were convicted and 60 persons were arrested under S11 A (3) of the Protection from Domestic Violence Act (Anonymous, 2018; News 2017).

In Mauritius, an advisory Committee on Reinforcement of Framework for Protection against Domestic Violence was set up and mandated to implement some measures according to Jeewa-Daureeawoo (2017), most of these measures have been implemented.

Regarding measures of the Report of the National Coalition against Domestic Violence Committee, the minister-Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo said that an Integrated Support Services Centre referred to as Command Centre which is charged with the duty of providing immediate care and counselling to victims will be shortly set up at the level of the Ministry while consultations are ongoing with all stakeholders for the establishment of the Observatory on Gender Based Violence. The objectives of the Observatory are to understand the reality and the evolution of gender based violence in Mauritius and make recommendations to improve the services and facilities offered by public institutions to victims of gender based violence. However, the state of these services currently cannot be ascertained. The above mentioned steps and more have been taken by the Mauritius ministry to combat domestic violence and support victims of domestic violence (Anonymous, 2018; News, 2017).

Also, according to the minister steps like the preparation of a protocol to advance interagency collaboration for the better handling of cases of domestic violence; the launching, shortly, of an aggressive media campaign with billboards, posters, TV and radio spots; consultations with the Commissioner of Police to strengthen intervention strategies and collaboration with the Police Family Protection Unit; and the setting up of a rehabilitation of perpetrators of domestic violence programme with a view to making perpetrators accountable for their actions and changing their behaviour for the safety of victims of domestic violence (Anonymous, 2018; News 2017).

Forms of Gender-Based Violence

GBV is a gross violation of human rights and a significant public health issue. Also, GBV is an umbrella term used to describe any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on socially ascribed gender differences between males and females. Therefore, it is imperative to know that gender –based violence are in different forms, it could be; physical, sexual, psychological, emotional and economic according to UN 1993 report. These types have diverse characteristics and manifestations. See table 1 below.

Table 1: Characteristics of the various Types of Gender-Based Violence

Physical Violence Sexual Violence Psychological violence  Emotional Violence Economic Violence
Pushing, hitting, slippery, choking, pulling hair, punching, kicking, grabbing, using a weapon against the partner, beating, throwing the partner down, twisting arms, tripping, biting.

 

Rape and sexual assault, forcing the partner to have sex with others, or in front of the children, forcing the partner to watch and participate in the making of pornography, putting such images on the internet.

 

Characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behaviour that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.

Such violence is often associated with situations of power imbalance, such as abusive relationships, bullying, and abuse in the workplace

Psychological abuse, mind games, making the partner feel responsible/guilty for the violence, constant criticism, name calling, humiliating her/him in front of the children, in the presence of friends.

 

Preventing a partner from getting and keeping a job or accessing education, using her/his money, controlling/denying him/her access to money, running up depts.

Family Welfare and Protection Unit (2018); UN General Assembly in adopting the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women

The issue of family conflict and gender violence is of public concern as it affects the global communities thus, lots of investigations have been done and still ongoing as to understand the causes as well as contributory factors which could possibly increase the incidence of this global menace in the face an advancing world. Some   of the causes of GBV includes but not limited to power/control, financial insecurity, emancipated attitudes of women, extra marital affairs, in-laws interferences, alcohol/substance Abuse, and lack of effective communication and incompatibility of characters. However, there are other factors that perpetuate violence generally like culture, economic, legal, political, policies and practices, institutional, religion and socio-cultural.

The effects of gender base violence are numerous and it is not peculiar to Republic of Mauritius alone as well; the impact is felt by not only the victim, but the family, community and to the larger society. There are some likely effects of gender based violence which range from health, psychological, socio-economical to mention but a few.

Furthermore, the Health effects include things like physical injury, death, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, mental health even to behavioural problems and sexual dysfunction. Also, suicidal tendencies, depression, lost of self-esteem, feelings of shame and guilt, alcohol and drug abuse, poor performance in schools and fear and anxiety are characteristics of psychological effects of gender base violence. Furthermore, socio-economic effects manifest as ostracism and stigma, forced marriage to rapist or abductor, imprisonment and loss of self and social esteem resulting to loss of productivity cost of health care and cost of legal and judicial investigation and prosecution according to the report from United Nation (UN) General Assembly in adopting the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women

Women are vulnerable to gender based violence compared to men. This is evident in a Mauritius study in which the number of domestic violence cases only reported in Mauritius in 2011 was 1,752 cases. Women reported 1558 (88%) of the cases compared to 12% men. Therefore, women are affected by gender based violence disproportionately although the study only considered domestic violence. Furthermore, the Family Support Bureau reported that between 2003 and 2011 seven women lost their lives while under an Interim Protection order in Mauritius (SADC, 2012). SADC Gender protocol 2012 revealed that there is a wide range of factors leading to domestic violence in Mauritius, such as economic pressures, alcohol abuse, extra marriage relationship and unwanted pregnancy.

The gender based violence indicators research project embarked on by Gender Links in collaboration with the Mauritius Research Council carried out a survey which was aimed at getting comprehensive data on extent, response, support and prevention of gender based violence. Study instruments such as prevalence and attitudes household survey, analysis of administrative data gathered from the criminal justice system (police courts), health services and government-run shelters; qualitative research of men’s experiences of intimate partner violence as well as first-hand accounts of women’s and men’s experiences, or “I” Stories; media monitoring and political context were useful tools according to SADC protocol 2012.

However, two separate questionnaires were utilized in the survey for determination of lifetime experiences of GBV. The included both men and women and the study participants were age matched from 18 years and above. The outcome of the survey shows that 24 %, that is approximately one in four women, interviewed in the study reported experience of some form of GBV at least once in their lifetime while 23% of men reported ever perpetrating GBV in their lifetime. On the other hand, men are more likely to admit to committing rape at 3.5% than women are to reporting experiencing rape, 0.7%. The study further revealed that emotional violence was the most commonly reported form of IPV. One in every six women (16%) experienced emotional IPV in their lifetime while 4% of women experienced emotional IPV in the 12 months before the survey. In terms of educational status and relationship with violence for women; the less educated the more likely to experience intimate partner violence. While employment status in the last 12 months; experiences of abuse as a child for perpetrators; and alcohol abuse are key drivers of intimate partner violence (SADC, 2012).

Mauritius has passed a number of laws that address gender based violence including in the workplace, Protection from Domestic Violence Act, Sex Discrimination Act, Combating of trafficking in Persons Act of 2009 and Labour Act. Also, other measures have been put in place to combat GBV like the pilot project launched in Rodrigues on Family Day (15thMay 2018) aims to ensure that the children of victims are obtaining appropriate services and to empower victims so they are less at risk. Besides, officers from the MGECDFW proceed to Agalega at request from Ministry of Local Government and Outer Islands to raise awareness and address issues of domestic violence and child abuse.

In addition, the Sports Act 2016 was enforced since January 2017 and it calls for the setting up of the National Women’s Sports Commission with the aim of promoting sports for women and school girls. The National Women’s Council Act 1985 was amended in April 2016 also, provide a more trending and suitable legislative framework for women’s empowerment and gender equality, particularly through the active involvement and participation of women in the socio-economic and political areas. Still, a web-based computer system- Domestic Violence Information System (DOVIS) for registration of reported cases of domestic violence and a Child Protection Register/database which record all cases of children in distress designed by Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare and Child Development and Family Welfare respectively. Moreover, in 2018, the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare has obtained assistance from the European Union for the preparation of a Gender Equality Bill. To this end, consultations have been held with major stakeholders to prepare the draft bill according to the report of Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women -CEDAW/C/MUS/8 (2018)

The table 2 below shows the provisions, what is in place and what needs to be put in place with respect to GBV response and support.

Provision

 

What is in place Provisions What needs to be put in place
Legislation prohibiting all forms of GBV. The Protection from Domestic Violence Act (DVA) of 1997* was amended in 2004 and the last amendment was made in 2007. A National Action Plan to Combat Domestic Violence with five strategic objectives: improving legislation on DV and strengthening the justice system and other agencies; providing appropriate, accessible, timely, coordinated multi-agency responses and support to all victims and children; sensitising and changing attitudes to prevent domestic violence from happening in the first place; promoting responsible advocacy, sensitisation and provision of forum by media specialists to encourage the community to discuss domestic violence; undertaking research and studies on domestic violence. All Municipal and District Councils have a Gender Action Plan. *Legislation prohibiting all forms of GBV is not covered under the Protection from Domestic Violence (Amendment) Act More shelters for survivors.

In-depth research on the measurement of GBV. The findings will help government and civil society to design and implement concrete action.

Harmonised data collection on GBV.

Gender action plans of localities to be implemented.

Ensuring that all perpetrators of GBV are brought to book.

 

Harsher penalties for failing to comply with orders are provided for in the PDV (Amendment) Act 2007. On a first conviction a fine not exceeding Rs 25,000 and a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years are applicable, and on a second subsequent conviction, a fine not exceeding Rs 50,000 and a term of imprisonment not exceeding two years is applicable. Awareness and sensitisation campaigns focusing on men and boys.

 

Comprehensive testing, treatment and care of survivors of sexual offences – emergency contraception. This happens as soon as the case is reported to the police.

 

Awareness campaign on the relationship of HIV and AIDS and GBV.

 

Access to Post-Exposure Prophylaxis (PEP) for survivors of GBV. PEP is available to survivors of GBV.

 

Awareness campaigns on PEP.

Media campaign on the schedules of the Caravan of Health.

Prevention of sexually transmitted infections. The Caravan of Health goes all over Mauritius to encourage the population to test, and they are then offered treatment.
Social and psychological rehabilitation of perpetrators of gender-based violence. In line with Government Programme 2005-2010, further amendments were brought to the PDVA in 2007 which include provisions for counselling instead of sentencing. The court would take into consideration factors such as the nature of the offence and the character, antecedents, mental and psychological condition, age, health and home surroundings of the perpetrator. Failure to attend counselling leads to the imposition of the original sentence.

The Lotus Centre at the Prison and two NGOs, Kinouete and Elan, conduct training and awareness campaigns for the social rehabilitation of former prisoners, including perpetrators of GBV. They participate in empowerment and capacity-building workshops to start their own business or get a job.

Review of criminal laws and procedures on sexual offences and GBV to eliminate gender bias and ensure that justice and fairness are accorded to the survivor. Laws have been reviewed to include harsher penalties.

Parliament passed the Combatting of Trafficking in Persons Act on 21 April 2009. It prescribes the punishment of up to 15 years imprisonment for convicted offenders, penalties which are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other grave crimes.

Media campaign on the schedules of the Caravan of Health.
Trafficking
Specific legislation to prevent human trafficking.

 

The Child Protection Act of 2005 prohibits all forms of child trafficking and prescribes the punishment of 15 years. In November 2008 parliament passed the Judicial Provisions Act which provided for increased penalties for various offences; the act prescribes punishment of child trafficking offences of up to 30 years imprisonment.

 

Greater awareness of the laws.

 

Mechanisms to eradicate national, regional and international networks. Article 13 of the Act reads “(1) Any person who believes that a person is a victim of trafficking shall forthwith report the matter to the police (2) the identity of the person who makes a report under subsection (1) shall not be disclosed, unless a Judge in Chambers otherwise orders this”. Awareness of the Act. Baseline study on human trafficking. Rehabilitation of girls, boys and women who have been trafficked to do sex work, or to work as domestic workers overseas. The government, police and civil society must work together to put in place mechanisms to eradicate trafficking.
Harmonised data collection on trafficking. The Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare collects data and make them official through Press Conferences or in Parliament. Harmonised collection of data. Baseline study on trafficking.
Capacity building, awareness raising and sensitisation campaigns on trafficking. The government demonstrated increased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts throughout 2008. Combatting Trafficking in Persons Bill was drafted after consultation by the Attorney General with relevant ministries and government agencies, including the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Gender Equality and the Mauritius Police Force.

The government made notable efforts to prevent the sex trafficking of children and reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. In 2008 the Ministry of Tourism, Leisure and External Communications published and distributed to hotels and tour operators 3,000 pamphlets regarding the responsibility of the tourism sector to combat child sex trafficking.

Law enforcement and child welfare officials conducted surveillance at bus stops, nightclubs, gaming houses and other places frequented by children to identify and interact with students who are at a high risk of sex trafficking. The Police Family Protection Unit and the Minor’s Brigade, in conjunction with the Child Development Unit of the MGECDFW conducted a widespread child abuse awareness campaign at schools and community centres that included a session on the dangers and consequences of engaging in prostitution.

Aggressive campaigns on trafficking and sensitisation about the law.
Sexual Harassment
Adopt laws, policies, programmes that define and prohibit sexual harassment. The Sex Discrimination Act contains provisions that define and prohibit any form of sexual harassment. The government has an anti-harassment policy. The Sex Discrimination Unit of the National Human Rights Commission compiled guidelines to ensure the prevention of sexual harassment of men/women in the workplace/institutions. All localities of Mauritius to implement their gender policies. Awareness on the different forms of sexual harassment.
Gender balance in bodies adjudicating sexual harassment cases The Sex Discrimination Division is headed by a woman who deals with cases of sexual harassment in her office and sensitisation campaigns all over Mauritius. Policies on sexual harassment in all workplaces and schools.
Support Services
Cases on GBV to be heard in a gender-sensitive environment. The NAP on domestic violence makes provision for the improvement of legislation and the strengthening of the justice system. All members of the judiciary to receive training on the various forms of GBV.

 

Special counselling services. The 2004 amendments from the PDVA were amended to extend protection to other members of the family living under the same roof with provision for counselling. More counsellors at the MGECDFW.
Dedicated and sensitive services provided by police units; health; social welfare. The six regional offices known as the Family Support Bureau provide psychological counselling and legal advice services to adult and children victims of GBV.

In view of changing patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes regarding the roles and responsibilities of women and men in the family and society, the MWRCDFW has been implementing (since 2003), the Men as Partners Project, which is a gender-sensitive project aimed at promoting responsibility and participation of men in the family.

Community-based organisations have set up Zero Tolerance clubs. Members of these clubs act as watchdogs to ensure that their communities are violence free. Five Zero Tolerance clubs are operating in Mauritius. A project on anger management has been initiated as well.

To set up more Zero Tolerance Clubs.

The MGECDFW to work in a sustained manner with NGOs.

Accessible information on services available to survivors of GBV. The MGECDFW launched an anti-violence campaign. Sensitisation is also being conducted in collaboration with NGOs, CBOs and religious bodies.

A hotline is available for cases of domestic violence. Hotline 119 provides family counselling services. The Police Family Protection Units also provide hotlines countrywide.

Making sure the hotline works on a 24-hour basis with proper online counselling services and advising survivors on where to go for help.

More campaigns in the media, post offices, at bus stops, on buses and in all public places about GBV and hotlines. All materials to be developed in Creole.

Accessible, affordable and specialised legal services including legal aid to survivors of GBV. The MGECDFW provides free legal services as, and when, required at court. Legal Aid for Women, a group of private lawyers, give legal advice for free to survivors of GBV. Greater awareness about the legal and financial services available to survivors.

 

Specialised facilities, including support mechanisms, for survivors of GBV. The MGECDFW and the police have signed a protocol of assistance to survivors. The survivor is taken to the hospital instead of recording a full statement with only the gist of the offence. Only women police officers are allowed to take statements from female survivors. Survivors receive psychological assistance and appropriate prophylactic treatment for HIV and AIDS. A one-stop shop needs to be established so that members of the public know what is in place.

 

Rehabilitation and reintegration facilities for survivors of GBV. The ministry provides temporary protection to survivors over a period of 15 days while other NGOs offer shelter facilities. Campaigns must be conducted by the MWRCDFW so that survivors know about these support services.
Training of Service Provider
Gender sensitisation training for all service providers engaged in the administration of justice, such as judicial officers, prosecutors, police, prison, welfare and health officials. The MGECDFW have conducted training programmes with officers of the Judiciary and members of the Council of Religions amongst others. The ministry also conducts programmes for local governments and other Ministries. The ministry has set up a Family Counselling Support Services Unit at the Central Prison. The Police Family Protection Unit gives training countrywide.

 

A monitoring and evaluation system is needed to assess the programmes’ effectiveness.

 

Community sensitisation programmes for survivors of GBV. A National Domestic Violence Committee has been set up by the MGECDFW to promote and adopt a coordinated approach, and ensure the protection of survivors in collaboration with all parties concerned. The NAP to be known by the general public.

 

Formal training programmes for service providers. The ministry gives formal training to service providers. The ministry provides outreach activities and service delivery to women, children and families as separate social groups and categories. It has dedicated units and programmes for each of these categories. There are also other ministries, NGOs, district councils and municipalities providing outreach activities and services delivery in various sectors. Impact assessment of these training

Source: Trafficking in Persons Report (2009); papers from the MGECDFW on Measures to Combat Domestic Violence; The National Gender Policy Framework, 2008.

Nevertheless, in line with one of the UN recommendations that State members should set up appropriate mechanisms to implement policies and programmes in favour of families, the Mauritius Ministry has set up a Family Welfare and Protection Unit since July 2003. In addition, awareness campaigns and enlightenment programs have been on as a means of sensitizing the general populace on family protection and combat gender-based violence including domestic violence. Both the government, non-governmental agencies as well as religious bodies have been on top gear as it pertains the issue of violence and protection of families. Retrospectively, Mauritius College of the Air considered

Strategies adopted by the Ministry to Combat Domestic violence with a public sensitization. Also, the Zero Tolerance Clubs has been supportive in promoting peace and harmony in the society. Besides, the use of booklet has been a useful tool like “Coaching Boys into Men” is one targeted at boys. It attempts to encourage men to inform male adolescents and other young men that violence is not equal to strength. Emphasis is placed on values such as respect, honour and responsibility to encourage men not to commit/perpetrate any forms of abuse towards women. By encouraging men to use positive messages to teach and coach their sons/brothers/nephews it seeks to turn them into healthy young men and responsible citizens of tomorrow.

National Action Plan to Combat Domestic Violence in 2007 in Mauritius

A National Action Plan was launch in 2007 to Combat Domestic Violence. Years back the ministry in conjunction with Gender Links and Gender Media Southern Africa (GEMSA) consolidated the implementation of this national action plan. It involved various sectors including Ministries/Departments, civil society, media, the private sector, religious leaders and other stakeholders who are collaborating in the implementation of the National Action Plan. Notwithstanding, a Partnership against Domestic/Family Violence Committee was set up in 2004, with a view to encourage the adoption of a coordinated approach to combat domestic/family violence among all stakeholders concerned. In this respect, a Protocol of collaboration with this Ministry was signed by the following members. In 2004, the ministry entered into collaboration signed by commissioner of police, commissioner of prisons, Senior Chief Executive, Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, Senior Chief Executive, Ministry of Education, Culture and Human Resources, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity & SCW & RI, MACOSS, Media Watch Organisation, Prevention information et Lutte Contre Le Sida (PILS) and SOS Femmes. The ministry launched for another call for projects proposal for financial year 2008/2009 with an amount of Rs 350,000 has been earmarked in this respect.

Collaboration

There are associations and Shelters available to support victims of Domestic Violence in Mauritius like SOS women’s shelter, which has been in existence since 1989, they give advice, support and a shelter to women and children who are victims of domestic violence, incest and rape Its aim is to eliminate violence within Mauritian families and the NGO runs public awareness campaigns, educational workshops and publishes leaflets and pamphlets on domestic violence, legal back up. The NGO will help victims of domestic violence to obtain a protection including accommodation order if that is necessary. Also, Shelter for Women and Children in distress is open to child victims of domestic violence. The Shelter works together with the Mauritius authorities such as the Child’s Development Unit (CDU), Ministry of Gender Equality etc. Furthermore, there are other Non Governmental Organizations that work to raise awareness about the problems of domestic violence.

Conclusion

Family Protection including Gender-based Violence is a crucial matter and in Mauritius, the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare is entrusted with the task of designing and implementing social policies cum programmes, which will promote women empowerment, enhance child development, and improve family welfare as well as communal welfare at large. As a result, actions of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare are geared in the direction of having the right conditions and environment for the harmonious development of the Mauritian children, women and their families. Furthermore, there is a legal framework already in place however, legislation can only be fully successful if supported by a number of other measures, like collaborative effort, community involvement/participation, raising awareness on the issue of domestic violence, education and reorientation at all levels. This task of promoting global recognition and raise public awareness on family protection including gender-based violence is an opportunity to urge both governmental and non-governmental organisations to commit themselves to providing support to survivors, enhance preventive efforts and press for legal and judicial reforms.

References

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