GIS - 17 August, 2015: The legislation to combat domestic violence and other forms of gender-based violence should be comprehensive and multidisciplinary, criminalising all forms of violence. It should encompass issues of prevention, protection, survivor empowerment and support (health, economic, social, psychological), as well as adequate punishment of perpetrators and availability of remedies for survivors.
This is one of the main considerations spelt out in the Report of the Advisory Committee on the Reinforcement of Framework for Protection from Domestic Violence which was officially launched this morning at the Intercontinental Mauritius Resort in Balaclava. The launching was held at the opening ceremony of a five-day workshop on ‘Multi-Agency Response to Fight against Domestic Violence’ in the presence of the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Marie-Aurore Perraud, the United States Ambassador, Mrs Shari Villarosa, and other personalities. The workshop is organised by the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare in collaboration with the Embassy of the United States of America.
The Minister recalled that the main purpose of the Advisory Committee, set up in March 2014, was to review the existing framework and suggest how it could be improved so that the fight against domestic violence can be much more effective. According to Mrs Perraud, the recommendations in the report will be examined during a three-day consultative workshop, to be held soon, with a view of devising a strategic plan. “This plan,” she stated, “will aim at the restructuring of the framework to combat domestic violence by all stakeholders concerned.”
Highlighting the measures recommended by the Advisory Committee to reinforce the framework, the Minister mentioned the adoption of a more comprehensive definition of domestic violence in the Protection from Domestic Violence Act; the further criminalisation of all forms of domestic violence; and the improvement of the criminal justice response to domestic violence. Other measures put forward by Mrs Perraud comprised affording better protection, support and assistance to victims; providing adequate redress/ reparation for victims; consolidating preventive mechanisms; and improving monitoring and evaluation through collection of accurate data about prevalence or scope of particular gender-based violence and follow up of the implementation of laws and the accessibility and responsiveness of services to victims.
The Minister also seized the opportunity to pay a special homage to late Mrs Rada Gungaloo, Barrister-at-Law, Feminist and Founder of S.O.S Femmes, and Member of the Advisory Committee, for her strong commitment and dedicated efforts to fight the scourge of domestic violence in Mauritius and to provide assistance to victims.
Regarding the workshop on ‘Multi-Agency Response to Fight against Domestic Violence’, Mrs Perraud commended the United States Embassy for its collaboration, concern and support. Speaking on the objective of the workshop which aims at developing and using a multi-agency strategy and response in the fight against domestic violence, the Minister added that the purpose of the strategy is to have a more efficient and effective Government-wide approach and responses to combat gender-based violence. These responses focus on five pillars; legislation and prosecution; capacity building of service providers engaged in the rehabilitation of survivors and perpetrators; prevention and awareness raising; media education and advocacy, coordination, research, monitoring and evaluation.
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