GIS – 26 May 2017: A workshop focusing on Strengthening Judicial Response to Domestic Violence intended for magistrates was held today at Hennessy Park Hotel in Ebène. It was organised by the Australian High Commission and the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare in collaboration with the Institute for Judicial and Legal Studies and the Mauritius Magistrates Association.
The Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, Mrs Fazila Jeewa-Daureeawoo; the Attorney General, Mr Ravi Yerrigadoo; the Australian High Commissioner, Ms Susan Coles; Justice Aruna Narain, and other eminent guests were present at the opening ceremony.
In her address, the Minister of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare expressed her concern that despite stringent legislative provisions and improved institutional support, domestic violence is still widespread in society. On that score she underlined the key role of Magistrates to ensure that victims of domestic violence are well protected. Effective application of sanctions is an essential component to combat domestic violence, she said.
The Minister called for the support of the Judiciary to break the vicious cycle of domestic violence, adding that the assistance of Magistrates is required to make perpetrators understand the consequences of abusive conduct and refrain from such abominable behaviour. Mrs Jeewa-Daureeawoo also highlighted the responsibilities of Magistrates to ensure that victims are aptly attended to. “Cases of domestic violence should be dealt with in an expeditious manner so that victims are spared the trauma of having to wait for long to obtain a remedy”, she said.
The Australian High Commissioner listed out several projects implemented by the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare with the collaboration of Australia. Ms Coles spoke of the series of workshops and training sessions conducted by a Senior Sergeant from the Northern Territory Police for stakeholders on gender-based violence; the establishment of the local ‘Women in Uniform’ network with a view to raising the profile of women in uniform and getting them to network amongst themselves; and the working session on domestic violence and on the protection from domestic violence for key stakeholders, among others.
For her part, Justice Narain acknowledged the proactivity of the Australian Government in collaborating with local institutions on gender issues, in particular in the enhancement of local capacity to effectively address the scourge of domestic violence. Given that every single domestic violence application is emotionally highly charged and represents in effect a mini family drama, Justice Narain welcomed the practical nature of the training where Magistrates would compare notes, brainstorm and get a hands-on approach to acquire the relevant knowledge and skills to better deal with the sensitive issue of domestic violence.
Themes discussed during the Magistrates Workshop
Some 50 Members of the Judiciary attended the workshop to share and exchange processes, ideas and experiences on the topic of domestic violence at Court with the South Australian Magistrate and Judicial Officer at the Family Violence Court, Mrs Jayanti McGrath.
Discussions focused on the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence against Women and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, Legislation on Domestic Violence from a Mauritian Perspective, Domestic Violence in Australia, and practical tips for judicial response to domestic violence. A video entitled 'Stop the Violence’ was screened and participants were provided the opportunity to work together through scenarios and highlight risk factors.
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