Government is committed to the elimination of gender-based violence and abides by its obligation to espouse values that give women their due respect and dignity. It is crucial to encourage victims to take the first and most important step which is to report the act of violence and the perpetrator.
This was the gist of the message of the Prime Minister, Minister of Home Affairs, External Communications and National Development Unit, Minister of Finance and Economic Development, Mr. Pravind Kumar Jugnauth, on the occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. He was speaking at a ceremony held yesterday at Octave Wiehé Auditorium in Réduit, in presence of the Vice-Prime Minister, Minister of Local Government and Outer Islands and Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo, as well as other personalities.
In his address, the Prime Minister highlighted that the act of violence in any form that is perpetrated on any living being is a serious offence and should be condemned and punished. Gender-based violence, he said, is a social ill that has significant negative consequences on the victims, namely jeopardising the lives of the women and affecting the development of society. He pointed out that no society should tolerate any form of abuse against women and emphasised that the theme retained in the local context, 'Sorti dan to silans denons violans', underlines the imperative need for victims to voice out against their perpetrators.
The Prime Minister underlined that this symbolical day encourages everyone to ponder on the issue of gender-based violence, and is an opportune time for the Government as well as stakeholders to take stock of the situation prevailing in the society, assess the measures established to eliminate the scourge and plan the way forward. He indicated that some 605 cases of domestic violence have been reported to the authorities with 316 Protection Orders issued in 2017 and 541 reported cases with 203 Protection orders issued during the period January- November 2018.
On that note, he enumerated key governmental measures taken to address the problem, including: the setting up of a National Committee to study the causes of domestic violence and come up with recommendations, and announced the setting up of a Domestic Violence Review Committee to investigate shortcomings in cases of domestic violence.
According to Prime Minister Jugnauth, to tackle the issue on all fronts, it is essential to have the involvement of men in the campaign so as to trigger a change in archaic mindsets that are anchored in gender-based stereotypes. He deplored gender-biased attitudes wherein women are considered as objects and treated in despicable ways while emphasising that the modern society advocates for human rights that ascribe men and women equal rights. On that note, he urged the population to ponder on key questions that can help dispel stereotypes that sustain domestic violence, namely: whether the society still considers women as the weaker sex; is the society a patriarchal one and is there a lack of moral values.
In this respect, said the Prime Minister, the educational reform is geared towards creating a generation of responsible citizens who have been inculcated fundamental values of respect, tolerance to build a society where social justice, equality and peace prevail.
As for Vice-Prime Minister Jeewa-Daureeawoo, she underlined that gender-based violence is a violation of human rights and constitutes an obstacle to the development of a country and to social peace. She observed that the victims of domestic violence, among whom 90 % of victims are women, suffer from physical and moral trauma along with their family members, in particular children. While reiterating Government's relentless efforts to wage the combat against this social ill, she underlined the threefold approach essential to target actions on all fronts, namely: prevention, intervention and rehabilitation.
She dwelt on recent measures to reinforce the assistance being extended to the victims, such as the mobile application involving the use of a panic button that requests immediate assistance, available on a 24/7 basis and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between different Ministries for a harmonious and holistic system to offer improved assistance to victims. She indicated that one major initiative includes the formulation of the Perpetrators' Rehabilitation Programme that aims at working with perpetrators of domestic violence to help them change their mindset and behaviour and help to redefine themselves as non-violent individuals.
On that occasion, the Prime Minister and the Vice-Prime Minister launched two booklets on premarital counselling and Marriage Enrichment Programmes, focusing on the themes of healthy relationships and family life.