This year, on a Thursday evening in February, Dorine Phokeerdass was murdered in plain sight in Vacoas, Mauritius. Ms. Phokeerdass had left an abusive and violent relationship; and as she walked down the street with her new partner – her ex-husband killed her. She was a mother of 11. A few months earlier on 7 September 2019, seven women were victims and survivors of domestic violence. They were assaulted, strangled and menaced by intimate partners and in-laws.
Gender-based violence knows no boundaries
Gender-based violence (GBV) knows no boundaries. It cuts across class, religion and ethnicity, affecting an estimated one in three women in the course of her lifetime. It is a pervasive phenomenon in developing and developed countries alike. Violence against women manifests in multiple behaviours including rape, sexual coercion, incest, honour killings, female genital mutilation, acid burnings, stalking and trafficking. Perpetrators of violence against women can be intimate partners, family members, members of the community or strangers.
In 2018, UNDP in Mauritius partnered with the Parliamentary Gender Caucus Mauritius National Assembly to commission a study entitled on The Sociological Profiling of Perpetrators of Domestic Violence in Mauritius . The study findings include that a root cause of domestic violence is the unequal gendered power dynamics in within communities in Mauritius. The study also noted that violence cuts across all socio-economic levels and ethnic groups and communities in Mauritius, ranging from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse to psychological violence.
Based on the eighth periodic report submitted by Mauritius in the same year, the Concluding observations of the Committee on the Elimination of Violence Against Women (CEDAW) raised concerns about the gender stereotypes that perpetuate violence against women, and the prevalence of reported cases of gender-based violence, made mostly by women. The Committee called upon the State Party to strengthen the institutional and legal responses to victims and perpetrators.