The plague of domestic violence is a national issue and a serious concern which affects each citizen. It is nonpolitical and therefore we all have to work in collaboration towards ensuring a fairer society with equal opportunities for everyone.

This statement was made by the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands, Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, today at the Prison Training School, in Beau Bassin.

The Vice-Prime Minister was speaking at the launching of a one-day capacity-building workshop for 146 Trainee Prison Officers on the theme ‘End Gender-Based Violence’. The aim is to equip participants with basic tools to respond to challenges related to Gender-Based Violence in both their professional and personal lives and to enable them discharge their duties effectively and efficiently within the prison environment. The workshop is organised by the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare in collaboration with the Mauritius Prison Service.

In her address, Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo, said that domestic violence is a major scourge in Mauritius and has always existed within the family unit across the island and is very much present worldwide. Yet, this does not mean that nothing should be done to address this issue and what is crucial is that we have to continue working and finding new ways and means to stand up against the challenge posed by domestic violence, she indicated.

The Vice-Prime Minister referred to the introduction in 1987 of a first legislation, the Protection from domestic violence Act, to address the problem of domestic violence. In addition, subsequent amendments were brought to the law in 2004, 2007 and 2011, and recently in 2016 so as to increase condemnations, and the term violence domestic has been redefined and presently perpetrators can be arrested when committing this offense, she highlighted.

However, Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo observed, there is no preventive law pertaining to domestic violence and the arsenal intervenes only after the act of violence has been made. Statistics, she added, indicate that women are the victims of domestic violence in the majority of cases and the best of laws are not sufficient to solve the issue of domestic violence.

The Vice-Prime Minister also lauded the efforts of the Police Force, NGOs and the civil society in helping to tackle the problem of domestic violence and emphasised the importance to enlist the participation of men as caring partners in this endeavour. Likewise, she made an appeal to the population to change their mindset while bringing up their children and not to make any differences between daughters and sons. It is necessary for parents to give both girls and boys equal chances as this will ultimately lead to reducing problems related to domestic violence in the future, she added.

For his part, the Acting Commissioner of Prisons, Mr Rungadoo, emphasised that Gender-Based Violence is a crime against humanity and its tentacles are expanding with not only physical and emotional effects but also with consequent impacts on the economy.

Mankind, Mr Rungadoo pointed out, cannot remain insensitive to such a problematic issue which is disrupting the very essence of the family unit. In the same vein, he appealed to all stakeholders to work together to put an end to Gender-Based Violence and empower all citizens to say no to Gender-Based Violence.

The capacity-building workshop

Presentations during the workshop are focusing on the following: the context of Gender-Based Violence; identifying signs of Gender-Based Violence; managing and responding to Gender-Based Violence; and responding to perpetrators of domestic violence. Interactive sessions are focusing on rehabilitative strategies for perpetrators of domestic violence.

Topics being covered are expected to enable Trainee Prison Officers sharpen their skills in as much as understanding Gender-Based Violence as well as managing and responding to it and in dealing with offenders. Resource persons are from the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare.

Source: Government of Mauritius