GIS – 25 October, 2013: In Mauritius where faith and religions play a vital role in the cultures of most people and where religious values and practices are deeply entwined in the fabric of daily lives, religious and spiritual leaders have a significant role in shaping attitudes, behaviours and opinions of people they regularly meet. As such, I called on the religious and spiritual leaders to become champions against domestic violence.
Such was the appeal made by the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Mireille Martin, yesterday at Clos Saint Louis, Pailles, during an interactive meeting with religious leaders of some 26 sociocultural and religious organisations, in the context of the Shared Faith Belief (SFB) Programme. The SFB Programme, which was launched in April 2013, aims at fully engaging the various religious bodies of Mauritius and members of the Council of Religions in the fight against gender-based violence through capacity building, the creation of a network to curtail gender-based violence and the harmonisation of discourses on that type of violence.
According to Mrs Martin, from January to September 2013, 1,376 cases of gender-based violence were registered at the six Family Support Bureaux, with 1,242 cases reported by women, and 134, by men. She urged the leaders to collaborate with the Ministry to fight against domestic violence and build the required platform against gender-based violence to ensure the wellbeing of women and children, and in general that of all Mauritian families.
Recalling the trainings dispensed to some 721 religious leaders of the 26 sociocultural and religious organisations across Mauritius since the launching of the SFB Programme, Mrs Martin said that the spiritual leaders were now better equipped with knowledge and understanding of gender-based violence to respond effectively to victims and perpetrators. She asked the participants to become ambassadors to spread peace and harmony in the family, and ultimately in the society.
Following the dispensing of the training sessions under the SBF capacity building programme, four plans of action, prepared by the participants, will be implemented. They are namely the training of trainers on pre-marital counselling in order to prepare engaged persons prior to their marriages and making the counselling a desirable pre-requisite to obtain sanctity for their marriage; the training of trainers on gender-based violence to equip a pool of trainers to sensitise other people on the issue; compilation of five quotes on non-violence, values and unity in the family from sacred books which will be published in the context of the International Day Against Violence Against Women on November 25; and the referral of perpetrators of domestic violence to the ministry through the six Family Support Bureaux for therapy and counselling purposes.
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