"The Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare is currently finalising an Action Plan on Intimate Partner Violence whereby a series of measures focusing on, among others, the strengthening of existing legislations, prevention, and capacity building of stakeholders, will be implemented."
The announcement was made by the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, at the National Assembly yesterday during her reply to the Private Notice Question on domestic violence. She added that the Action Plan will enable better coordination among stakeholders dealing with victims of domestic violence.
Recalling the findings of the study carried out by the University of Mauritius, which was validated in a two-day workshop in May 2017, on the prevalence, causes, consequences and costs of Intimate Partner Violence on the Mauritian Economy, Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo pointed out that, according to the study, the incidence for women who experience intimate partner violence in the extreme case is 43 times on average for a victim, approximating one episode every seven to eight days. The findings revealed that women who are victims of intimate partner violence suffer silently without any supporting network such as parents, friends, colleagues and others.
The study 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 spills over three days of work while for women in the extreme group, the number of unproductive days is four on average.
In her reply, the Minister moreover detailed the number of cases reported to the Police and the Family Support Bureaux as well as the number of arrests for the period 1st December 2016 to date. Hence 3,250 cases relating to offences under the Protection from the Domestic Violence Act, including breach of Protection and Occupation Orders, were reported to the Police and 1,616 cases to the six Family Support Bureaux. For the same period, 382 persons were convicted and 60 persons were arrested under S11 A (3) of the Protection from Domestic Violence Act. This section purports to the possibility of arresting and bringing a person before a Magistrate when physical injury has ensued in reported cases of domestic violence.
The Minister also informed the House that most of the measures mentioned in the Report of the Advisory Committee on Reinforcement of Framework for Protection against Domestic Violence have been implemented. Regarding measures of the Report of the National Coalition against Domestic Violence Committee, Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo said that an Integrated Support Services Centre (Command Centre) to provide 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.
Other steps taken by the Ministry to eliminate domestic violence and support victims of domestic violence were also highlighted by Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawo. These comprise the preparation of a protocol to promote 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; ongoing 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.
"There is a legal framework in place," said the Minister, "but any law can only be fully successful if supported by a number of other measures, such as the full collaboration of all parties concerned, raising awareness on the issue of domestic violence, educating our young people, and bringing about a change in mind-set at all levels."