Mauritius: The Annual Symposium on the link between Gender-based Violence and Religion, which is being held at the Gold Crest Hotel in Quatre-Bornes, was launched this morning by the Minister of Gender Equality and Family Welfare, Mrs Kalpana Koonjoo-Shah.
In her address, Minister Koonjoo-Shah underlined that the Annual Symposium is a pre-requisite of the National Strategy and Action Plan of the High-Level Committee to Eliminate Gender-based Violence in the Republic of Mauritius.
She expressed gratitude to the Council of Religions, from which she emphasised her Ministry has received great support for the realisation of this project and other programmes geared towards family welfare and prevention of gender-based violence.
The Minister underpinned the moral authority of religious leaders and their communities to raise awareness about gender-based violence as well as their moral responsibility to prevent violence, provide support and care, and strive to transform societal or religious norms or practices that perpetuate such violence and vulnerability to gender-based violence.
She remarked that Gender-based Violence is a serious violation of human rights & a life-threatening health and protection issue, which the Government firmly intends to address. The Government is well aware that Gender-based Violence needs to be addressed so as to mitigate the risks for the victims and also make the perpetrator accountable, affirmed the Minister.
Minister Koonjoo-Shah recalled that Mauritius is a signatory to several international and regional human rights instruments, including Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
She announced that her Ministry is working towards further reinforcing the Protection from Domestic Violence Act to review the interpretation of domestic violence and making the perpetrators’ rehabilitation programme mandatory.
Furthermore, Minister Koonjoo-Shah dwelt on the four-pronged approach adopted by her Ministry consisting of intervention, prevention, rehabilitation and re-integration and empowerment.
According to her, empowering the youth in regard to Gender-based Violence is a crucial step to modify the social & cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a perspective to achieve the elimination of prejudices & customary & all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or the superiority of either the sexes or a stereotyped role for men and women.
In her concluding remarks, Mrs Kalpana Koonjoo-Shah appealed to the representatives of the religious groups to assist her Ministry in this endeavour by adopting a bystander approach and acting as a role model in the promotion of gender equality & prevention of gender-based violence.