GIS - October 15, 2012: A one-day workshop on Capacity Building Programme on Gender-Based Violence, targeting medical health officers and senior nursing officers, kicked off this morning at the Labourdonnais Waterfront Hotel, Port Louis, in the presence of the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Mireille Martin, and the Minister of Health and Quality of Life, Mr Lormus Bundhoo. The opening ceremony was followed by the launching of a new toolkit, designed specifically to help in the training of various stakeholders with a view to better address the issue of Gender-Based Violence.
The workshop is the first in a series of capacity building programmes for health professionals organised by the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare under the Short Term Recommended Actions of the National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence, with focus on the capacity building of service providers in the rehabilitation of survivors and perpetrators. The training sessions aim at widening the knowledge of participants on the psychological state of the victim and his or her physical health, as well as better equipping them to address domestic violence. The end objective of the programme is to provide victims of Gender-Based Violence with best care and treatment.
In her address at the opening ceremony, the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare highlighted the importance of provision of adequate medical assistance and support to victims of Gender-Based Violence as very often doctors and nursing officers represent the first trustworthy carers that survivors of violence encounter following a deeply traumatizing experience. ‘In this respect, I believe it is primordial that the relationship between health professionals and officers of my ministry be strengthened’, stated the Minister.
Mrs Martin recalled the current referral system which enables Medical Social Workers of Regional Hospitals to refer cases of victims of Gender-Based Violence to the six Family Support Bureaux of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare to provide psychological support, counselling, legal advice and process applications for Orders under the ‘Protection from Domestic Violence Act’ when required. She added that according to statistics issued by the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life, in 2008 and 2009 respectively, 1,365 and 1,591 cases of physical assault against women were dealt with through this mechanism.
The Minister also spoke of the setting up of a new harmonised Domestic Violence Information System (DOVIS) for which the collaboration of the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life is of utmost importance to allow the monitoring and analysis of records in order to further strategise ways and means to combat Gender-Based Violence.
For his part, the Minister of Health and Quality of Life pointed out that Gender-Based Violence poses a serious health risk with many negative consequences for women’s emotional and physical health and disastrous implications on the health and well-being of families and communities.
Minister Bundhoo listed the various collaborative initiatives between the Ministry of Health and Quality of Life and the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare in the fight against Gender-Based Violence. These initiatives comprise the Protocol of Assistance to Victims of Sexual Assault, operational since 2006 to ensure a prompt and timely assistance, special protection, care and rehabilitation services to victims of sexual assault; funding to the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare for the implementation of projects related to Gender-Based Violence as well as sexual and reproductive health; and provision of resource persons for various sensitisation campaigns related to Gender-Based Violence, among others.