The Outreach Programme for Victims of Domestic Violence was launched by the Police Family Protection Unit (PFPU) under the aegis of the Mauritius Police Force in collaboration with UNDP Mauritius on 3 October 2020. The main objective of the programme is to encourage early reporting of domestic violence cases and to ensure that victims receive quick and adequate support from relevant institutions. The programme, which aims at making the reporting process more accessible by providing a mobile service to survivors within the community, also comprises of easily accessible services to enable survivors to file complaints and to receive legal information and psychological support from professionals. Additionally, through the strengthened collaboration of all its stakeholders, the outreach programme will also consist of a platform to sensitize vulnerable persons at risk and perpetrators of domestic violence.
Setting the necessary mechanisms to promote and protect citizens against all types of violence
In his opening remarks, the Deputy Chief Commissioner of Police explained that the Mauritius Police Force is determined to put in place the necessary mechanisms to promote and protect citizens against all types of violence. While Honorable Mohammud Zahid Nazurally, MP, Deputy Speaker and Deputy Chairperson of the Parliamentary Gender Caucus, thanked the police and UNDP for the timely support being extended to the survivors of domestic violence / gender-based violence, through the implementation of the said programme. He affirmed that the fight against domestic violence requires not only strict laws and efficient assistance programmes, but "also a real change in the culture and mindset of the population".
The multi-dimensional effects of domestic violence cost the State about Rs 2 billion per year
The National Gender Expert for UNDP Mauritius, Dr. Anjalee Dabee, laid emphasis on the increasing number of reported domestic violence cases in Mauritius, especially during the Covid-19 lockdown. She stated the multi-dimensional effects of domestic violence cost the State about Rs 2 billion per year for tangible expenses linked to intimate partner violence. A study carried out by UNDP in 2017 reveals that this figure represents 0.6% of GDP; and includes expenses incurred by victims for seeking help from social services, the cost of health care assistance, the loss of productivity regarding household chores, and absenteeism at work. The gender expert explained that "above all, domestic violence is a violation of Human Rights and the State’s commitment towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW)."
Mrs. Goorbin, Woman Police Inspector, informed that 4243 domestic violence cases were reported in 2019 across the 10 offices of the PFPU. She clarified that this figure was not necessarily representative of reality as only 1 in 7 cases are reported, which implies that most victims – including children and elderly persons- still suffer in silence.
Marking the months of October and November as Domestic Violence Awareness Months
The launching ceremony of the Outreach Programme for Victims of Domestic Violence, which was held at the Moka District Council in Quartier Militaire, also included a parade led by the Police Band, the presentation of the Police Family Protection Unit (PFPU) Emblem, sensitization pamphlets, and a theatrical depiction around the themes of domestic violence, issuance of Protection Orders, and the benefits of early reporting for safer communities. A game of “Values” was also launched to sensitize families and children on moral values.
The PFPU is marking the months of October and November as Domestic Violence Awareness Months as part of a movement of activism to end domestic violence in Mauritius. Sessions of the outreach programme are scheduled across the island on a weekly basis for the rest of October, culminating on the 25 November 2020, the International Day to End Violence Against Women.