Achieving Gender Equity for Sustainable Development through Environmental Adult Education in Mauritius

Report prepared by Christiana Uzoaru Okorie, YUVA Project Writer

Introduction

In Africa and some parts of the world, gender stereotypes inherent in the culture of the people, defines women and men in opposite ways, create limitations to both women and men and legitimise unequal power relation. Gender stereotyping refers to the way in which a society expects women and men to behave and the specific roles women and men are expected to play the society. This cultural phenomenon has resulted in gender inequity in most African societies and contributed to non-attainment of sustainable development. Gender inequity inherent in society is a denial of Human Rights and is of great concern to sustainable development. Continue reading “Achieving Gender Equity for Sustainable Development through Environmental Adult Education in Mauritius”

The Situation of HIV/AIDS in Mauritius

According to estimates, a total number of 329 cases of HIV/AIDS cases were detected in the year 2016 in which 319 cases were Mauritians and 10 cases were foreigners. The yearly positivity rates of HIV recorded seem to be 0.36% for the year 2016, which concludes that the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS in Mauritius is 6671. Statistics clearly indicate that men have the highest prevalence of HIV as out of the 6671 cases 5061 are men and 1610 are women. Since 1987 Mauritius has reported approximately 953 deaths due to HIV. Continue reading “The Situation of HIV/AIDS in Mauritius”

Help Us Eradicate Child Prostitution in Mauritius: YUVA

Mauritius is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Secondary school-age girls and, in fewer numbers, younger girls from all areas of the country, including from Rodrigues Island, are induced into prostitution, often by their peers, family members, or by businessmen offering other forms of employment.

NGOs report girls also are sold into prostitution by family members or forced into the sex trade in exchange for food and shelter. Taxi drivers provide transportation and allegedly introduce girls and clients. Girls and boys whose mothers engage in prostitution reportedly are vulnerable to being forced into prostitution at a young age. Some women addicted to drugs are forced into prostitution. In recent years, small numbers of Mauritian adults have been identified as labor trafficking victims in the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Canada. Malagasy women transit Mauritius en route to employment as domestic workers in the Middle East, where they often are subsequently subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Women from Rodrigues Island are subjected to forced labor in domestic service in Mauritius.

In previous reporting periods, Cambodian fishermen were subjected to forced labor on fishing boats in Mauritius’s territorial waters. Mauritius’ manufacturing and construction sectors employ approximately 30,000 foreign migrant workers from India, China, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Madagascar, some of whom are subjected to forced labor.

The Government of Mauritius does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.

During the reporting period, the government maintained strong efforts to identify and provide protective services to child victims of sex trafficking and continued to conduct extensive public awareness campaigns to prevent child sex trafficking and reduce the demand for commercial sex acts involving children. However, there remained a general lack of understanding among law enforcement of trafficking crimes outside the realm of child sex trafficking, despite increasing evidence that other forms of trafficking exist in Mauritius, including the forced labor of adults. The government failed to identify or provide any protective services to adult victims and did not make any tangible efforts to prevent the trafficking of adults during the reporting period.

Recommendations for Mauritius

Use anti-trafficking legislation to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and convict and punish trafficking offenders, including in cases involving forced labor or adult women exploited in forced prostitution; provide law enforcement officials, magistrates, prosecutors, social workers, and labor inspectors with specific anti-trafficking training so officials can effectively identify victims, investigate cases, and refer victims to appropriate care; increase coordination between law enforcement entities, NGOs, and international organizations on cases involving foreign trafficking victims; establish procedures to guide officials in the proactive identification of victims of trafficking among at-risk populations, including women in prostitution and migrant workers; create an inter-ministerial committee to increase coordination among relevant government entities and facilitate the government’s overall trafficking efforts; develop a national action plan to combat trafficking and allocate sufficient funding to implement the plan; increase the number of labor inspectors responsible for monitoring the employment of migrant workers; and conduct a national awareness campaign on all forms of trafficking.

Prosecution

The Mauritian government decreased anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. The Combating of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2009 prohibits all forms of trafficking of adults and children and prescribes penalties of up to 15 years’ imprisonment for convicted offenders. In addition, the Child Protection Act of 2005 prohibits all forms of child trafficking and prescribes punishment of up to 15 years’ imprisonment; the Judicial Provisions Act of 2008 increased the maximum prescribed punishment for child trafficking offenses to 30 years’ imprisonment. All of the aforementioned penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. During the reporting period, the government reported six investigations related to child sex trafficking, which resulted in the prosecution of five alleged traffickers; all five prosecutions remained pending at the close of the reporting period. This is a decrease from the previous reporting period, when the government initiated seven prosecutions and obtained seven convictions in child sex trafficking cases.

The government has never reported any prosecutions of cases involving adult victims of sex trafficking. It has never taken any law enforcement action against labor trafficking offenses, including forced labor on fishing boats in Mauritius’ territorial waters and forced labor of migrant workers in the construction and manufacturing industries. Although the Mauritian Police Force included training on trafficking to approximately 200 new police recruits as part of their basic training requirements, with the exception of cases involving child sexual exploitation, there remained a general lack of understanding of trafficking among law enforcement. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking during the reporting period.

Protection

The government sustained strong efforts to protect child sex trafficking victims, but failed to identify or provide adequate protective services to victims of other forms of trafficking. The government identified seven child sex trafficking victims during the reporting period, a slight decrease from the 12 victims identified in 2012. The Minors Brigade systematically referred all cases of identified children in prostitution to the Child Development Unit (CDU) of the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development, and Family Welfare for assistance. CDU officials referred an unknown number of abused and exploited children to two NGOs running multipurpose shelters for care. It also encouraged the placement of trafficking victims in foster homes for long-term shelter. The government provided victims with medical and psychological assistance in public clinics regardless of whether they resided in a shelter, in foster care, or with relatives. Children victimized in prostitution were accompanied to the hospital by a child welfare officer, and police worked in conjunction with these officers to obtain statements from the children. The government encouraged child victims’ assistance in the investigation and prosecution of trafficking crimes.

Identified victims were not reported to have been incarcerated inappropriately, fined, or otherwise penalized solely for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. The government failed to identify or provide any services to adult victims of sex trafficking or labor trafficking. Due to the lack of understanding of human trafficking among law enforcement, some adult victims of forced prostitution and forced labor may have been penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficking. For example, law enforcement officers and prosecutors generally did not investigate whether adult women were involuntarily engaging in prostitution. Additionally, under Mauritian law, migrant workers who strike are considered to be in breach of their employment contracts and can be deported at the will of their employers. Some migrant workers who gathered to protest abuses relating to their employment were deported during the reporting period; these deportations took place without conducting comprehensive investigations or screenings to identify if the individuals were victims of forced labor. The 2009 anti-trafficking law specifically provides legal alternatives, such as temporary residency, to removal to countries in which the trafficking victims would face retribution or hardship.

Prevention

The government sustained strong efforts to prevent the sex trafficking of children and reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, but demonstrated weak efforts to prevent other forms of trafficking. The Police Family Protection Unit and the Minors Brigade continued extensive public awareness campaigns on child abuse and child rights at schools and community centers that included information on the dangers and consequences of engaging in or facilitating child prostitution. The Ministry of Tourism and Leisure also distributed pamphlets warning tourism industry operators of the consequences of engaging in or facilitating child prostitution. However, the government does not have an inter-ministerial coordinating body or a national action plan dedicated to combating all forms of trafficking. The government did not conduct any awareness campaigns relating to other forms of trafficking and did not make any discernible efforts to reduce the demand for forced labor during the reporting period. The Ministry of Labor, Industrial Relations and Employment (MOL) is required to approve all employment contracts before migrant laborers can enter the country. However, reports indicate many migrant laborers enter the country with incomplete contracts or contracts that have not been translated into languages that the workers understand. Additionally, the MOL’s Special Migrant Workers Unit, which is responsible for directly monitoring and protecting all migrants workers and conducting routine inspections of all migrant workers’ employment sites, was staffed by only four inspectors; this number of inspectors is severely inadequate, as there are approximately 37,000 migrant workers currently employed in Mauritius.

YUVA begins a journey in working towards the eradication of human trafficking in Mauritius.

Source information retrieved from Trafficking in Persons Report 2014

cover2

Untitled-1

10 December: Human Rights Day

Human Rights Day is observed every year on 10 December. It commemorates the day on which, in 1948, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organisations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

This year’s Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.

The two Covenants, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, form the International Bill of Human Rights, setting out the civil, political, cultural, economic, and social rights that are the birth right of all human beings.

“Our Rights. Our Freedoms. Always.” aims to promote and raise awareness of the two Covenants on their 50th anniversary. The year-long campaign revolves around the theme of rights and freedoms — freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear — which underpin the International Bill of Human Rights are as relevant today as they were when the Covenants were adopted 50 years ago. For more this year’s theme and the year-long campaign, see the website of the UN Human Rights office.

Follow #HumanRightsDay

Facts and Figures about the two Covenants

The two Covenants are legally binding treaties for the States that are parties.

168 States are party to the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights today.

164 States are party to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights today.

The two Covenants were adopted by the UN General Assembly on 16 December 1966, and entered into force in 1976, after a sufficient number of countries had ratified them.

Each of the Covenants is monitored by a committee of experts, who review the progress of States parties to the treaty. They also hear individual complaints and assess if States need to remedy the situation.

Along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the two Covenants form the International Bill of Human Rights. which sets out the rights that are the birthright of all human beings.

For more information, please see:

Fact sheet on Civil and Political Rights PDF document

Frequently Asked Questions on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights PDF document

Capacity Building workshop on Human Trafficking in Mauritius

On Thursday 5th of November 2015, the ‘Dis-Moi’ (Droit Humains Océan Indien) has stepped up its efforts to combat human trafficking, an issue that has greatly been affecting our island.

Specifically, ‘Dis-Moi’, in collaboration with Justice & Equity and a number of development partners has strived to strengthen its ability to combat human trafficking. For this purpose ‘Dis-Moi’ is commencing to implement the island project “Strengthening Criminal Justice Responses to Human Trafficking in Mauritius” which shall be for a duration of one year-pilot project, based on financial support from various Ministries amidst the Mauritius Police Force and the Media Trust of Mauritius.

The project aims at (1) developing an anti-human trafficking law; (2) undertaking capacity- building of legal and law enforcement officials, and victim service providers; (3) increasing cooperation of various professionals and NGOs on human trafficking; (4) raising awareness on human trafficking; and (5) improving the capacity for victim referrals and access to legal assistance.

The workshop held was aimed at educating and raising awareness among legal and law enforcement officials and those who provide assistance to victims. Twenty-Eight participants including attorneys, lawyers, local police, local prosecutors, members of various Ministries, members of Media Trust, Members of Human Rights, Women’s Union, members of NGOs and Syndicalists of the CTSP attended the one day workshop.

Opening remarks were made by Deputy Mayor of Port Louis, Mr. Loic Dick, President of Media Trust Mr. Linsay Riviere, Syndicalist of the CTSP Mrs. Jane Ragoo, Deputy Chairman of the Human Rights Commission Mr. Hervé Lassemillante and Director of ‘Dis-Moi’, Mr. Lindley Couronne. The speakers warned about the dangers of human trafficking in Mauritius, their expectations for the workshop and what they wish for participants to gain from this workshop.

Each session of the workshop was led by trainers who are officials from International experts on Human Rights & Justice (National & International presentation on Human Traffic), Legal representatives amidst Me. Indranee Boolell-Bhoyrul (Legal aspects and existing laws in Mauritius), President of the CEDEM Mrs. Rita Venkatasawmy (Child Prostitution in Mauritius), Professors from the University of Mauritius amidst Dr. Ganess Dirpal & Dr. (Ms.) Anjali Bungaleea (Immigrants in Mauritius – Bangladeshi), and National Police who have been selected as part of the Core Trainers Group.

During workshop, the participants’ analyzed local case studies and assessed whether each case was human trafficking. In aiming to increase the awareness and participation, the trainers departed from the typical teaching style by actively engaging with the participants, soliciting their views on issues and asking for answers.

Closing remarks were made by Mr. Lindley Couronne, Director of ‘Dis-Moi’. The speakers expressed their appreciation towards all participating parties and their hope that selected voluntary members of the public will apply the information learned through the workshop to prevent incidents of human trafficking while also assisting victims of human trafficking in Mauritius based on a pilot project for duration of one year.

Report of workshop submitted to the MSIEE on: Friday 6th of November 2015.

1 October: International Day of Older Persons

On 14 December 1990, the United Nations General Assembly (by resolution 45/106) designated 1 October the International Day of Older Persons.

This was preceded by initiatives such as the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing – which was adopted by the 1982 World Assembly on Ageing – and endorsed later that year by the UN General Assembly.

In 1991, the General Assembly (by resolution 46/91) adopted the United Nations Principles for Older Persons.

In 2002, the Second World Assembly on Ageing adopted the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, to respond to the opportunities and challenges of population ageing in the 21st century and to promote the development of a society for all ages.

The theme of the 2015 commemoration is “Sustainability and Age Inclusiveness in the Urban Environment”.

Living up to the Secretary-General’s guiding principle of “Leaving No-One Behind” necessitates the understanding that demography matters for sustainable development and that population dynamics will shape the key developmental challenges that the world in confronting in the 21st century. If our ambition is to “Build the Future We Want”, we must address the population over 60 which is expected to reach 1.4 billion by 2030.

Background

The composition of the world population has changed dramatically in recent decades. Between 1950 and 2010 life expectancy worldwide rose from 46 to 68 years, and it is projected to increase to 81 by the end of the century. It should be noted that at present women outnumber men by an estimated 66 million among those aged 60 years or over. Among those aged 80 years or over, women are nearly twice as numerous as men, and among centenarians women are between four and five times as numerous as men. For the first time in human history, in 2050, there will be more persons over 60 than children in the world.

Almost 700 million people are now over the age of 60. By 2050, 2 billion people, over 20 per cent of the world’s population, will be 60 or older. The increase in the number of older people will be the greatest and the most rapid in the developing world, with Asia as the region with the largest number of older persons, and Africa facing the largest proportionate growth. With this in mind, enhanced attention to the particular needs and challenges faced by many older people is clearly required. Just as important, however, is the essential contribution the majority of older men and women can continue to make to the functioning of society if adequate guarantees are in place. Human rights lie at the core of all efforts in this regard.

The introduction of new policies and programmes

During the last decade, population ageing has led to the introduction of new policies and programmes, in which the social sector has taken centre stage, as shown by the majority of contributions to the present report. Many Governments in developed and developing economies have designed or piloted innovative policies in the health, social security or welfare systems. In addition, several policy framework documents, including national plans of action on ageing have been enacted. Specific age-related legislative measures in areas as varied as building codes, licensing and monitoring of care centres and vocational training have also begun to emerge. All levels of government, from local to national, have taken a share in this responsibility, and have either created new institutions or renewed existing ones to seek ways of gradually responding to the challenges faced by older persons.

Understanding the roles of older persons in family and society

Government institutions have chosen diverse approaches in setting priorities. These choices highlight different perceptions of the role that older people play in the family and in society at large. In some cases, measures aim to capture the rapidly evolving dynamics of communities and societies, inviting a second look at current perceptions about older persons and work, elder-care mechanisms, intergenerational support systems and financial constraints. Some Governments have designed policies founded on the principle of active ageing and autonomy, aimed at facilitating the continuation of independent lives at home, with services and facilities that cater for various types of needs. Others emphasize family ties and support for the family unit as the primary source of care for older persons. In all cases, a network of private actors, including various volunteer organizations and community-based centres, are essential to the smooth functioning of the entire system.

Of special resonance is the situation of older women who face inequalities as a result of their gender-based roles in society. Gender relations structure the entire life cycle, influencing access to resources and opportunities, with an impact that is both ongoing and cumulative. The different circumstances that shape the lives of women and men in old age are the outcome of a lifetime of experience. Good health, economic security, adequate housing, an enabling environment, access to land or other productive resources, these are the fundamentals of ageing with dignity, yet achieving them depends on decisions and choices only partly determined by each individual. The impact of gender inequalities in education and employment becomes most pronounced in old age. As a result, older women are more likely than older men to be poor. Furthermore, older women often take on greater responsibilities for family care while managing inflexible working conditions, mandatory retirement ages and inadequate pensions and other social security benefits, which leave them, and those in their care, extremely vulnerable. Without doubt, ageing, its human rights challenges and its feminization constitute an unprecedented shift in the social fabric of all societies, with far-reaching consequences.

Addressing the situation

The international community started to highlight the situation of older persons in the Vienna International Plan of Action on Ageing, adopted at the World Assembly on Ageing in 1982. The 1991 United Nations Principles for Older Persons, the 1992 Global Targets on Ageing for the Year 2001 and the 1992 Proclamation on Ageing further advanced international understanding of essential requirements for the well-being of older persons.

The Political Declaration and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Ageing, 2002, adopted at the Second World Assembly on Ageing, and endorsed by the General Assembly in its resolution 57/167, reinvigorated the political consensus on an agenda on ageing, emphasizing development and international cooperation and assistance in this area. Since its adoption, the Madrid International Plan has guided the drafting of policies and programmes at the national level, inspired the development of national and regional plans and provided an international framework for dialogue.

The Madrid International Plan of Action

In the Political Declaration adopted in Madrid, Member States reaffirmed their commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights, and called for the elimination of age discrimination, neglect, abuse and violence. More specifically, the Madrid International Plan contained guidance on the right to work, the right to health, participation and equality of opportunity throughout life, stressing the importance of the participation of older persons in decision-making processes at all levels.

The priorities set out in the Madrid International Plan of Action include a wide range of issues: equal employment opportunities for all older persons; programmes that enable all workers to acquire social protection and social security, including, where applicable, pensions, disability insurance and health benefits; and sufficient minimum income for all older persons, with particular attention to socially and economically disadvantaged groups. The importance of continuous education, vocational guidance and placement services are also stressed, including for the purpose of maintaining a maximum functional capacity and enhancing public recognition of the productivity and the contributions of older persons. Health is also a key feature of the Madrid Plan of Action. The provisions encompass notions of prevention, equal access to health care, active participation, the impact of HIV/AIDS in respect to older persons and the full functionality of supportive and care-giving environments.

Basic Human Rights

There are numerous obligations vis-à-vis older persons implicit in most core human rights treaties despite the lack of specific provisions focusing on them. Such instruments apply to older persons in the same way as to all other people, providing protection for essential human rights, including the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, freedom from torture, inhuman or degrading treatment and equality before the law as well as for an adequate standard of living without discrimination on any grounds.

Article source: United Nations