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Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare

Family Welfare and Protection Unit

In line with one of the UN recommendations that States should set up appropriate mechanisms to implement policies and programmes in favour of families, the Ministry has set up a Family Welfare and Protection Unit since July 2003.

 

Welfare
The objectives of the Family Welfare and Protection Unit are:  
 
·          To implement policies and strategies to promote family welfare; and
·          To adopt relevant strategies and implement actions to address the problem of Gender-Based Violence.
What is Gender-Based Violence (GBV)?
GBV is an umbrella term used to describe any harmful act that is perpetrated against a person’s will and is based on socially ascribed gender differences between males and females. GBV is a gross violation of human rights and a significant public health issue.
 
The UN General Assembly, in adopting the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women defined gender-based violence as:
 
‘any act of violence that results in physical, sexual, or psychological harm or suffering to women; including threats of such acts, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life’ (Population Reference Bureau, 2001 pg. 3).
                                                                                   
Source: UN General Assembly in adopting the 1993 Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
 
What is Intimate Partner Violence?
“Intimate partner violence is actual or threatened physical or sexual violence or psychological or emotional abuse directed towards a spouse, ex-spouse, current or former boyfriend or girlfriend, or current or former dating partner.”
(Source: Saltzman, et. al., 1999)
 
Examples may include:
v  Physical
v  Sexual
v  Psychological
v  Economic
 
Types of Gender-Based Violence
·          Physical Violence
Pushing, hitting, slippery, choking, pulling hair, punching, kicking, grabbing, using a weapon against the partner, beating, throwing the partner down, twisting arms, tripping, biting.
 
·          Sexual Violence
Rape and sexual assault, forcing the partner to have sex with others, or in front of the children, forcing the partner to watch and participate in the making of pornography, putting such images on the internet.
 
·          Psychological Violence
Psychological violence  is a form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behaviour that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder.  Such violence is often associated with situations of power imbalance, such as abusive relationships, bullying, and abuse in the workplace.
 
·          Emotional Violence
Psychological abuse, mind games, making the partner feel responsible/guilty for the violence, constant criticism, name calling, humiliating her/him in front of the children, in the presence of friends.
 
·          Economic Violence
Preventing a partner from getting and keeping a job or accessing education, using her/his money, controlling/denying him/her access to money, running up depts.
 
 
Causes of Gender-Based Violence
​      v  Power and Control
v   Financial insecurity
v   Emancipated attitudes of women
v   Extra-marital affairs
v   In-laws interferences
v    Alcohol and substance Abuse
v   Lack of positive communication
v   Incompatibility of characters
 
Factors that perpetuate Violence
v Cultural
v     Economic
v      Legal
v      Political
v      Policies and Practices
v      Institutional
v       Socio-cultural
 
Consequences of Gender-Based Violence
·          Health effects include: physical injury, death, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, mental health and 
        behavioural problems and sexual dysfunction.
 
·          Psychological effects include: suicidal tendencies, depression, lost of self-esteem, feelings of shame and guilt, alcohol and drug abuse, poor performance in schools and fear and anxiety.
 
·          Economic consequences include: lost of productivity cost of health care and cost of legal and judicial investigation and prosecution.
 
·          Social consequences include: ostracism and stigma, forced marriage to rapist or abductor, imprisonment and loss of self and social esteem.
 
Services

The Family Welfare and Protection Unit operates through a network of six (6) Family Support Bureaux (FSBx) around the island. The following services are available at the FSBx:-

(i) Family Counselling

(ii) Psychological Counselling

(iii) Legal Counselling

(iv) Assistance to adult victims of gender-based violence

 

Legal Framework - Protection from Domestic Violence Act

The Protection from Domestic Violence Act was passed in the National assembly in 1997 for the protection of spouses against domestic violence. It aims at reducing and preventing domestic violence and at ensuring that where such violence occurs there is effective legal protection. Since 1997, the Protection from Domestic Violence Act has been subjected to various amendments namely in 2004, 2007 and 2011 so as to provide for protection to all family members living under the same roof, harsher penalties for non-compliance of orders of the Court and for the rehabilitation of perpetrators through counseling amongst others.

 

National Policy and National Action Plans: 
A National Policy Paper on Family, which encompasses strategies and actions for promoting family welfare, was launched on 15 May 2006.
 
In line with our commitment to reinforce the institution of the family and to end gender-based violence, the following national action plans are currently being implemented:
 
-       the National Action Plan on the Family (2009 - 2015) and
-       the Costed National Action Plan to End Gender-Based Violence (2012 – 2015).
 
 

Programmes and Projects to promote Family Welfare

Men as Partners Project
The Men as Partners Project is a gender sensitive project based on community involvement, which aims at partnership building, and focuses on concerted efforts for the attainment of the highest level of family harmony and happiness.
Components covered under the project are:
§   Educational Sessions;
§   Counselling Sessions;
§   Medical Sessions; and
§   Entertain to Educate
 
Pre-Marital Counselling and Marriage Enrichment Programmes

The objectives of the Programmes are to sensitise engaged and married couples for a more stable married life as well as to prepare them to cope with marital conflicts, hence empowering them to lead a healthy family life. These programmes are conducted both at national and regional level with engaged and married couples

Inter-Generation Relationship Programme

An Inter-Generation Relationship Programme aims at consolidating ties within the family and promotes family values among the three generations, that is, youths/ parents and grandparents.  

Strengthening Values for Family Life Programme
The Ministry in collaboration with the Indian Ocean Centre for Education in Human Values is implementing a national programme on Strengthening Values for Family Life which aims at:
 
a)    nation-wide transformation of attitudes and mindset for responsible citizenship through inculcation of values for family life;
b)    serving as an essential requisite for married and engaged couples to lead a successful married life;
c)     building positive parenting and family bonding;
d)    serving as the foundation for implementation of family life education;
e)    contributing to positive individual development, caring communities, and a healthy nation; and
f)     empowering youth and adults with coping skills, effective communication and effective decision-making skills.
 
 
 

Programmes and Projects to address GBV

National Platform to End GBV

A National Platform to End Gender-Based Violence has been set up in Mauritius since October 2011 to ensure national coordination to end GBV.

 

Toolkit to End GBV

A Toolkit to End GBV was launched in October 2012 to facilitate capacity building of stakeholders dealing with gender-based violence cases.

 

Victim Empowerment and Abuser Rehabilitation Policy (VEARP)

The policy is devised in line with Strategic Objective II/ Specific Objective 8 of the National Action Plan to Combat Domestic Violence launched in 2007.

 

The Objectives of the VEARP are to:
​             (a)   Promote and make available VEARP services to stakeholders engaged in the fight against domestic violence to assist both abusers and victims.
(b)   Set up guidelines to both the public and private sector in the establishment of workshop initiatives to fight domestic violence, and
(c)   Provide the minimum standard required in the provision of VEARP services by all stakeholders.
 
Zero Tolerance Clubs (ZTCs) Against Domestic Violence

ZTCs comprise representatives of various Community-Based Organizations with a view to involving the community to combat domestic violence. Monthly activities are organized by the Ministry in collaboration with ZTCs members to create more awareness among the public on our services and issues pertaining to Gender-Based Violence.

 

Protocol of assistance to victims of Sexual Assault
A Protocol of Assistance to Victims of Sexual Assault is operational between the MGECDFW, the Ministry of Health and QL and the Police Department since March 2006. The purpose of the Protocol is to ensure prompt and timely assistance to victims of sexual assault.
 
With the application of the Protocol, victims may now call either at the Police Station (to give gist of case) of the region where the incident took place or directly to any of the 5 regional hospitals.  Victims who report case at the Police station are conveyed by the Police to the nearest regional hospital.  In line with the provisions of the Protocol, the Ministry provide psychological assistance and legal counseling to the victims.
 
Families in Distress Scheme

The Families in Distress Scheme provides for:

      • One-off assistance to the tune of Rs 3000 to the parents / legal guardians for funeral expenses in the case of accidental death of a child
      • One-off assistance to the tune of Rs 9000 to widows who have lost their husband in dramatic circumstances (e.g - murder, electrocution, drowning, shipwreck, riots etc)
      • One-off assistance to the tune of Rs 9000 to widowers who have lost their spouses in dramatic circumstances (e.g – murder, electrocution, drowning, shipwreck, riots etc) provided that the deceased wife was contributing financially to the family income.

 

 

Special events celebrated/commemorated by the Family Welfare and Protection Unit

        • International Day of Families
Following the proclamation by the United Nations General Assembly Resolution in 1993, the 15th of May is observed as the International Day of Families.  This day depicts the significance of families as elemental units of humanity and provides a chance for Governments, organizations and individuals to encourage knowledge of the strengths and wants of families.  It intends at promoting impartiality, bringing forth fuller sharing of household responsibilities and service opportunities. 
        • International Day Against Violence Against Women (IDAVAW)

By resolution 54/134 of 17 December 1999, the United Nations General Assembly designated 25 November as the International Day Against Violence Against Women, and invited governments, international organisations and NGOs to organize activities designed to raise public awareness of the problem on that day.

 

Family Support Bureaux

The Unit operates from the Ministry's Head Quarters and has a network of 6 Regional Offices known as Family Support Bureaux (FSBx). A hot line 119 is operational on a 24 hour basis to cater for family related problems and another Hot Line 139 which is dedicated to domestic violence is also operational. Officers can be contacted at the FSBx on the following addresses and telephone numbers:

 

Family Support Bureaux
Address
Unit/Hot Line/Telephone Number
Port Louis
2nd Floor, SILWF Building,
Edith Cavell Street, Port Louis
Family Welfare and Protection Unit
213 0001
213 0002
Family Counseling Service
213 0737
Flacq
Flacq Women Centre
Royal Road
Flacq

(near Auguste Volaire Stadium)
Family Welfare and Protection Unit
413 6467
Family Counselling Service
413 2322
Rose Belle
Mohun Building, Mongelard Lane, Rose-Belle
Family Welfare and Protection Unit
627 2829
Family Counselling Service
627 8089
Goodlands
NPF Building
2nd Floor, Goodlands
Family Welfare and Protection Unit
283 3000
Family Counselling Service
283 7240
Bambous
Royal Road
Bambous
Family Welfare and Protection Unit
452 1200
Family Counselling Service
452 5081
Phoenix
National Women Development Centre
Phoenix
Family Welfare and Protection Unit
698 3609
Family Counselling Service
697 9940

 

 

In addition to our six regional FSBx, eight Police Family Protection Units (PFPU) manned by Women Police Constables are operational in the following regions to deal with cases of domestic violence:

 

POLICE FAMILY PROTECTION UNITS
CONTACT NUMBERS
Head Office ( Sterling House)
Port Louis
210 2116
Abercrombie
217 3379
Piton
264 9133
Moka
433 2289
Rose Belle
627 2840
Rose Hill
466 2212
Vacoas
696 4058/ 59
Flacq
413 2935