Mauritians join hands to end gender violence

Date: January 1, 1970
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5 October, 2006: A broad cross section of government, civil society and religious organisations has joined hands in a groundbreaking initiative to rid Mauritius of gender violence.

A three day workshop convened by Media Watch Organisation-GEMSA and the South African-based Gender Links ended today with the drafting of a National Action Plan to End Gender Violence and the establishment of an interim task team comprising representatives from over twenty stakeholder organisations (see below).  
Minister of Women, Child Protection and Family Welfare Indira Seebun and Minister of Justice and Human Rights Rama Valayden opened the conference by expressing their support for the first effort in Mauritius to develop a comprehensive and coordinated approach to ending this human rights scourge.
Headlines from local newspapers read at the beginning of the conference reflected the persistence in gruesome cases of sexual assault, child abuse, incest and domestic violence.  These show that the rights that women and children are guaranteed on paper are still not a reality in the daily lives of many.
Mauritius is the fourth country in Southern Africa (after South Africa, Zimbabwe and Namibia) to extend the Sixteen Days of Activism campaign that takes place each year from 25 November (International Day of No Violence Against Women) to 10 December (Human Rights Day) to a year-long campaign.
Held under the banner “365 days of action to end gender violence” the conference identified a range of priority actions, including the passing of a Sexual Offences Bill; simplification of procedures for implementing the Prevention of Domestic Violence Act and an audit of services available to survivors of sexual assault with a view to ensuring that survivors of gender violence have ready access to redress as well as comprehensive treatment and care under one roof.
An interim task team comprising representatives of three theme groups (legislation and the justice system, services, public education and awareness) will present the draft action plan to key ministers and seek their guidance in ensuring its formal adoption by 8 March (International Women’s Day) next year. The plan includes a number of targets and indicators that will be monitored by the multi sector task team that will issue quarterly and annual reports on progress made.
The draft plan will also be widely canvassed during the upcoming Sixteen Day campaign that is expected to include a march by men against gender violence for the first time; daily radio talk shows on legislation and services; as well as testimonies by survivors of violence. Mauritians will be able to link up with countries in the region during cyber dialogues held on five days of the campaign as well as participate in a video conference with countries that have adopted the 365 day approach.   
For more information contact Loga Virahsawmy on (230) 4542327.
(Conference participants included representatives of the: Ministries of Finance; Social Security, Women, Health, Sports; Local government;  the Attorney General’s Office,Ombudsperson for Children, the police, Media Watch Organisation-Gender and Media Southern Africa Network (GEMSA);  CEDEM, PILS, Noubaz/CDS, Comite Quartier Camp Levieux, Mouvement Action et Progress, ELAN, Mouvement Civique-Baie du Tombeau.) 

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