The Child Development Unit (CDU) was set up in 1995. It ensures that the survival, protection, development and participation rights of the Mauritian child are upheld as per the Convention on the Rights of the Child whereby the best interests of the child shall be of primary consideration in all policies, programmes and actions pertaining to children’s welfare.
The State has the obligation to ensure parental role wherever parents fail to do so and this role is ensured by the CDU. Any child may be a potential victim of violence, and the CDU has to intervene promptly and is expected to provide comprehensive service delivery with a view to provide immediate assistance and follow up to the child.
The Child Development Unit has as main objectives:
- provide for Protection Services to victims of violence, abuse and neglect on a 24 hr 7 days basis;
- provide for hotline service with respect to reporting of a case and counseling as appropriate;
- provide victims with follow-up sessions to ensure recovery from trauma and thereafter their re-insertion in society;
- prepare and support children victims of violence for legal encounters;
- provide for Early Childhood Development services to the cohort of 0-3 years;
- provide parents with life skills through a National Parental Empowerment Programme and Ecole des Parents;
- provide Alternative care to abused children, ranging from temporary removal to a shelter for children in distress, to foster caring and eventually, as a last resort, committal to a charitable institution;
provide victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation with curative, rehabilitative and reintegrative services;
- provide tardy declaration of birth services to both children and adults who have not been declared within the prescribed time delay;
- provide periodic review of placement of children in shelters and charitable institutions;
- act as Central Authority in International Child Abduction cases;
- provide trained mentors to children seen to be in distress because of mild behavioural problems through a well spelt child Mentoring Programme; and
- provide community safety and community actions in Child Protection and Child Welfare in general through Community Child Protection Programme and outreach Programmes.
Working collaboratively to:
Enforce the Child Protection Act 1994 and its attendant regulations whereby it is mandated by law to report to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare, any case of suspected ill-treatment, abandonment, neglect, destitution, abuse, and sexual exploitation of children including Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children.
Shape and influence programmes/ actions pertaining to child protection and development at a national as well as regional level.
Develop partnerships with other stakeholders namely governmental institutions, Non-governmental institutions, community organizations that have at heart the best interests of the Mauritian Child.
Reinforce existing networking system for the reporting / monitoring and evaluation of child violence cases.
Promote information, education and communication to the Mauritian citizens on the importance of child rights/ protection/ development services and facilities.
“The Government must make sure that the child is protected from any type of physical or mental violence ,injury or abuse ,neglect ,maltreatment or exploitation, while he/she lives in the care of parent(s), legal guardian(s) or any other person who has the care of the child.Special procedures must be set up to help the child if he/she has been the victim of abuse” Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development & Family Welfare has the mandate and authority, to investigate and intervene in cases of suspected child abuse. The Child Protection Act 1994 (amended 1998) confers upon the Permanent Secretary or any public officer designated by him to apply for an emergency protection order in respect of a child who is at risk. The CDU takes steps to ensure the child’s safety, namely through an application in the court for an Emergency Protection Order whose outcome may involve the removal of the child from his/her home and his/her placement in the temporary shelters of the Ministry.
Counselling and psychological support
The CDU offers face-to-face counselling services in outstations whereby children, victims as well as family members are free to discuss the problems they encounter in a safe and confidential environment.
The CDU also operates a 24-hour Hot Line Service (113) to provide first hand counselling and advice to the public on any family related issue/problem and in particular to desperate persons who are in urgent need of help and support.
Parenting skills are also conveyed to parents to strengthen the parent-child bond and to help parents better understand their children and vice versa.
Children and victims of abuse are also provided with psychological support at the level of CDU outstations to help them cope more effectively with life issues.
Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC)
The protection of children also includes fight against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children. In this context, the Ministry implements a National Plan of Action for CSEC. Thus, the Ministry provides specialized services to victims of Commercial Sexual Exploitation and also training for individuals who work with these children.
Trafficking in person
All cases of alleged child trafficking are made known to the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare (MGECDFW) and recorded at the level of the CDU for social enquiry. The cases are simultaneously reported to the Police for Criminal Enquiry
Child victims are also provided with immediate and long term protective and support services at the level of the six CDU Outstations across the island notably, at Goodlands, Flacq, Souillac (formerly was Rose-Belle), Port Louis, Bambous and Vacoas. Protective and supportive services are also provided in the Drop-in-Centre at Port Louis and Residential Centre at Grand Riviere North West (GRNW).
Protective and Supportive Measures
The Protective and Support Services comprise the following -
A Hotline/Helpline 113 for reporting cases of child abuse including Child Trafficking and Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) either anonymously or otherwise;
Joint interviews by the Police and CDU Officers to avoid repeated narrations of incident;
Assistance to victims of child trafficking for medical and Police Medical Examinations as well as HIV testing and pregnancy tests; and
Psycho-social counselling/ Psycho-social support to victims and their families.
There is a close collaboration with the Brigade Pour la Protection des Mineurs (BPLPDM) and other stakeholders to assist in the identification of victims and providing them support. The BPLPDM carries-out raids in game houses, hotels, discotheques and also investigate in suspected/alleged cases of child trafficking and CSEC.
Specialised services are provided to the CSEC victims, notably-
- Therapeutic and rehabilitative activities, example group counselling and focus group discussions;
- Monthly medical sessions/examinations;
- Contraceptive counselling; and
- Parental counselling.
Awareness Campaigns on Issue of Child Trafficking:
- Regular IEC campaigns are carried out by Officers of the Ministry to sensitise and educate people at different levels about the problem of child trafficking.
- From January to June 2018, 1811 persons have been sensitised on child protection issues inclusive of child trafficking in primary and secondary schools, social welfare and community centres by officers of the CDU and Psychologist of the Drop in Centre.
Early Childhood Development (ECD)
The Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare has an additional responsibility to cater for children in the cohort of 0-3 years. A study was commissioned on provision of early childcare in 1996, which has been used as a reference for the elaboration of the policy paper.
In this respect, the National Early Childhood Development (ECD) policy paper (0-3 years) was officially presented in 1998. It is being implemented to improve the child’s overall development through the introduction and adoption of integrated and holistic approach to ECD.
Based on this Policy Paper, an ECD Action Plan
has been prepared. The Implementation of this Action Plan is being carried out by the Early Childhood Development (ECD) Section which was set up within the Child Development Unit (CDU) of the Ministry with a view to achieving the goals of the ECD Policy Paper.
The Institutions for Welfare and Protection of Children, Regulations 2000 under the Child Protection Act,
with established norms and standards has been enacted in December 2000 to regulate childcare services including home-based facilities. It is mandatory for all Day Care Centres (DCCs) to be registered with the Ministry.
The lists of registered DCCs around the island are as follows:
An Early Childhood Development Programme Guidelines (0-3 years) has been launched in November 2003. This Handbook gives sound directions on caring services and teaching approaches emphasising on play based learning and child-centred pedagogy.
Training has been given due attention with a view to promoting capacity building of Child Care Personnel to ensure a good development perspective of child growth and individual differences thus facilitating the transition from DCCs to pre-primary schools.
The Child Development Unit caters also for international child abduction cases. Mauritius adhered to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction on 01 October 1993. Officers at the Head Office enforce the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction Act. The main objectives of the Convention are to secure the prompt return of children wrongfully retained in another State and see to it that the rights of custody and of access under the law of one Contracting State are effectively respected in another State. The Child Development Unit is the Central Authority for Mauritius and as such has the following duties:
(i) To provide information on the whereabouts and the social background of the child.
(ii) To apply to Court for the return of the child as well as securing the effective exercise of the right of the child.
It is also to be noted that in this exercise there is need to constantly liaise with the Central Authority of countries involved under the Hague Convention.
(iii) Acceptance of accession of contracting parties by member states necessitate amendments of schedules of the Act and this is a regular feature and demands resources.
A high level Steering Committee to monitor acceptance of contracting States and cases have been set up. Many countries have acceded to the Hague convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction.
|Tardy Declaration of Birth|
The sub-unit works in collaboration with the Civil Status Office and the Attorney at Law to issue birth certificates to undeclared children.
Sharing of responsibilities/Working together
The issue of protection and well-being of children is a matter of concern for all. In fact, child protection is the collective responsibility of the whole government and the community at large. Although the primary responsibility for rearing and supporting children should rest with families and communities, government should be seen as providing support where it is needed, either directly or through the funded non-government sector.
A high powered committee has thus been set under the chairpersonship of the Permanent Secretary and will comprise a schedule officer not below the level of Principal Assistant Secretary from the following Ministries/Departments –
(a) Prime Minister’s Office;
(b) Ministry of Social Integration and Economic Empowerment;
(c) Ministry of Finance and Economic Development;
(d) Ministry of Education and Human Resources;
(e) Ministry of Youth and Sports;
(f) Ministry of Social Security, National Solidarity and Reform Institution;
(g) Ministry of Health and Quality of Life;
(h) Attorney General’s Office;
(i) Ombudsperson for Children’s Office;
(j) Police Department; and
(k) National Children’s Council.
The main objective of this Committee is to look into avenues of collaboration between all parties concerned to ensure rapid intervention in cases involving children. It will also be a forum whereby the roles and responsibilities of each party would be established with a view to give effect to collective action in dealing with such cases. The discussions held at the level of the High Powered Committee has culminated towards the signature of a Memorandum of Understanding between this Ministry and other the Ministries/Department concerned.
National Children’s Council (NCC)
School Child Protection Club (SCPC)
Through the School Child Protection Club (SCPC) children are also sensitised on issues related to teenage pregnancy (and related problems). Children are also exposed to issues pertaining to: relationship bullying, cyber bullying, indiscipline, misconduct, harsh language, aggressive parents towards authority of school, intake of alcohol and smoking, amongst others.
The SCPC is a multi-holistic project which aims to initiating home grown protection clubs for children by children at the level of the School itself. The SCPC is providing a well-structured platform to promote Child Protection to combat violence and indiscipline at school.
Objectives of the SCPC:
- The School Child Protection Clubs seek to provide a well-structured platform.
- To develop the skills and competencies to both curtail and combat violence against children ‘a priori’ within the school premises and also to empower the child on the way to contribute towards the creation of a violence free and child friendly environment conducive for the overall development of the child.
- To conduct in a coherent and systematic approach activities on Child Rights/Child Protection.
- To address issues against bullying gang violence and discipline.
The ‘Atelier Partage Parents’ in a nutshell portends to offer adequate and appropriate information regarding child development in general and also prevention from all forms of child violence. Parents will also be apprised of the support services available to respond to the various needs of parents during their different periods of parenting, ranging from pre-birthing to late adolescence through early childhood.
The ‘Atelier Partage Parents’ are held in Social Welfare centres and Community Centres island wide. The main topics discussed are health, nutrition, rights and responsibilities of children, child violence and parenting and challenges of parenting at the different developmental stages of children from pre-birth to 18 years.
Objectives of the Atelier Partage Parents:
To enhance the relationship between parents and children in general;
To remove and reduce intergenerational gaps that leads to conflicts between parents and children;
To improve the parenting skills of parents particularly those faring in deprived areas, and are in disadvantaged circumstances;
To empower parents with the capacity to manage and develop coping mechanism with regards to their family problems.
21 children’s Clubs are run islandwide mostly in socially difficult areas. Children 3 years to under 18 years old are members of children’s Clubs.
1. To promote educational activities about norms and values in society.
2. Enhance creative capacity of children by motivating them to participate in creativity workshops.
3. To give them an opportunity to increase their self-esteem.
4. To encourage children to practice outdoor games.
5. To encourage social integration.
6. To carry out welfare and developmental activities so as to prevent child abuse and commercial sexual exploitation of children. (CSEC)
From January 2018 to June 2018, 9911 children have participated in the Children’s Club.
A Creativity Centre for children has been set up at Mahebourg. The aim of the project is to have a Creativity Centre similar to the “Bal Bhawan” of India, to serve as a focal point for creativity, recreation and leisure activities for children. This project received the support of the Government of India through the technical assistance of experts. Along with that the following international events are being celebrated:
Day of the African Child (DAC)
The African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Children’s Charter/Charter) was adopted by the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on 11 July 1990 and entered into force on 29 November 1999. The Charter establishes the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child (African Committee/Committee), consisting of 11 members of high moral standing, integrity, impartiality and competence in matters of the rights and welfare of the child.
In 1991, the Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the then OAU instituted the Day of the African Child (DAC) for the first time in memory of the 16th June 1976 student uprising in Soweto, South Africa who marched in protest against the poor quality of education were massacred by the then apartheid regime in place in South Africa.
Since then, the OAU and its successor, the AU, have used the DAC to remember these children, to celebrate children in Africa as well as to inspire a sober reflection and action towards addressing the plethora of challenges that children in Africa face on a daily basis. The African Committee selects the theme for the DAC every year.
Universal Children's Day (UCD)
UCD is a regular feature and is celebrated on a yearly basis on the 20th November.
On 14 November 1954, the United Nations (UN) General Assembly recommended that all countries should establish a Universal Children’s Day (UCD), to be observed as a day of fraternity and understanding between children all over the world. This day promotes the ideals and welfare of children.
Capacity Building Programmes
The Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare provides regular Capacity Building/Training Programme for professionals and other stakeholders working with and for children mainly, on
- the Early Childhood Development Programme;
- the Commercial Sexual Exploitation;
- the Community Child Protection Programme;
- the different techniques of enquiry and investigation;
- stress managements;
- dealing with difficult clients,
- first aid amongst others and the component on Convention cut across all the Themes elaborated within the training held up till now.. Overall a total number of 5000 persons have been trained in these fields.
Preventive /IEC/Community Development /Development
The Ministry in collaboration with the National Children`s Council organises a series of activities such as Sports Day ,Colonie des Vacances ,outreach and developmental activities to foster the wefare and participation of children .International/Regional /Days /Events / Campaigns based on the promotion of the rights of the child are celebrated annually , to sensitise adults about children`s rights and their own duties towards them.
Emergency Contact Numbers: 113
2nd Floor, New Municipal Complex,
Morcellment VRS, Souillac
1st Floor, SILWF Building,
Edith Cavell Street,
2nd Floor, Customer Service Centre,
St-Ursule Road, Central Flacq
Grould Floor, NPF Building,