GIS – 11 September 2014: OASIS, the new specialised Residential Care/Drop-in Centre to cater for children victims of commercial and sexual exploitation, the first of its kind in Mauritius, was inaugurated in Port Louis yesterday by the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Mireille Martin.
Among the main reasons underlying the setting up of such a centre is the necessity to remove children, who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation, from their living environment where they are exposed to the risk of being engaged in prostitution by family members and peers, and ensure their successful rehabilitation. The objective of the centre is to provide protection and assistance to children, victims of commercial and sexual exploitation, in a more sustainable manner and in a conducive environment.
According to Mrs Martin, the OASIS Centre will provide a whole spectrum of care and services including psychotherapeutic and medical support as well as various technical training programmes within a tailor-made learning environment in order to ensure the sustainable social integration of sexually abused and exploited children. “OASIS aims to become a temporary safe haven for identified children”, she said.
Highlighting Government’s commitment to provide to vulnerable children effective protection that meet their needs, the Minister listed the various measures taken namely: the Community Child Watch Committees that allow for proximity service and provide for surveillance of children exposed to any form of violence at local levels, the operation of School Child Protection Clubs to prevent child violence and the provision of 24 hour hotline service, 113, for reporting of case and counselling purposes.
Mrs Martin also announced that the Children’s Bill is presently being reviewed by the State Law Office and that the National Child Protection Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2020 will be presented in October 2014.
The Minister added that although child protection is the collective responsibility of the civil society, government and the community at large, the primary responsibility for rearing, supporting and protecting children rests with families. “Protecting children from violence, abuse and exploitation is an imperative. It is unacceptable that parents force their child into prostitution: there can be no excuse, no reason and no situation to justify child prostitution”, she said.
The Centre will be run by the Mauritius Family Planning and Welfare Association and will cater for 30 children aged between 9 to 18 years. It comprises namely separate dormitories for different age groups, classrooms, a counselling room, an IT training room and six workshops. The first residents are expected in November 2014.
It is to be recalled that the operationalisation of the OASIS Centre is in line with Government’s commitment to the development and protection of children from any forms of abuse and exploitation through the provision of care, psychological support and group therapy for their successful rehabilitation and reinsertion in the society.
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