A consultative workshop on the Perpetrator's Rehabilitation Programme was held, this morning, in presence of the Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, Mrs Kalpana Koonjoo-Shah, the Australian High Commissioner, Mrs Jennifer Ann Dee, the United Nations Development Programme Resident Representative for Mauritius and Seychelles, Ms Amanda Serumaga, at the Westin Turtle Bay Resort & Bay, Balaclava.
The objective was to generate ideas and opinions that can contribute to changing the mindsets and attitudes of perpetrators and victims as well as to reiterate the engagement of various stakeholders in addressing the issue of domestic violence.
In her keynote address, Minister Koonjoo-Shah underlined the need to further strengthen the legislative framework as regards the effective implementation of the Perpetrator's Rehabilitation Programme. Presently, she said, the Domestic Violence Act makes provision for counselling of perpetrators subject to consent of both parties whereby the perpetrator may opt to attend or not attend such sessions or the victim may choose not to ask the perpetrator to attend counselling, which according to her, is not reasonable.
She stated that during the past four years, out of the 4 301 perpetrators convened by the Ministry, only some 2 711 attended the Family Support Bureaux for support thereby representing 63% of the perpetrators targeted for rehabilitation. To this end, she highlighted the importance of formalising the provision for the Perpetrator's Rehabilitation Programme in the law and to bring forth amendments to the existing frameworks for better coordination and concerted actions.
The Minister also spoke of the need to target men under the Men As Caring Partners Project which promotes knowledge about the prevailing situation of men's involvement in family matters, strengthens advocacy among community members, policy makers and the media for the creation of the appropriate institutional support to enhance men's participation in the family. As at date, she informed, the project has been implemented in two regions and same would be implemented in other regions as well.
Mrs Koonjoo-Shah stressed that the Government and the civil society have a major role to play in preventing domestic violence from permeating our social fabric adding that community outreach and social mobilisation is a must. She further reiterated the commitment of her Ministry to effectively migitate the negative impacts of domestic violence, to empower victims to emerge from abusive relationships and to ensure that abusers are referred to appropriate services for their rehabilitation.