Mauritius Country Overview

Mauritius Country Overview

ECPAT
A report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitaꢀon of children
JUNE, 2019
Internaꢀonal

This publicaꢀon has been produced with the financial assistance of the Swedish Internaꢀonal
Development Cooperaꢀon Agency (Sida), the Hilton
Prize Coaliꢀon, the Oak Foundaꢀon and Irish Aid.
Table of contents
Preface 1
The views expressed herein are solely those of ECPAT Internaꢀonal. The support from these donors does not consꢀtute endorsement of the opinions expressed.
At a Glance 2
Introducꢀonꢁ 5
TheꢁContextꢁofꢁtheꢁSexualꢁExploitaꢀonꢁ This publicaꢀon was wriꢁen by:
Kevin Ryu and Maria Ibañez Beltran ofꢁChildrenꢁinꢁMauriꢀusꢁ 8
Internaꢀonal,ꢁRegionalꢁandꢁNaꢀonalꢁ
CommitmentsꢁandꢁLegislaꢀonꢁonꢁtheꢁ
With assistance from:
Alexander Sonsev, Clara Decamps, James
Alexander Eckford, Mark Kavenagh and Andrea Varrella
SexualꢁExploitaꢀonꢁofꢁChildrenꢁ 13
NaꢀonalꢁResponseꢁtoꢁtheꢁSexualꢁ
ExploitaꢀonꢁofꢁChildrenꢁ 21
Design and layout by:
Manida Naebklang
Child,ꢁVicꢀmꢁandꢁSurvivorꢁParꢀcipaꢀonꢁ 29
RecommendaꢀonsꢁforꢁAcꢀonꢁ 30
This report was also developed in collaboraꢀon with Halley Movement Pan-Mauriꢀus Coaliꢀon, the ECPAT Member in the country.
Acronymsꢁ 32
Extracts from this publicaꢀon may be reproduced only with permission from
ECPAT Internaꢀonal and acknowledgment of the source and ECPAT
Internaꢀonal. A copy of the relevant publicaꢀon using extracted material must be provided to
ECPAT.
Suggested citaꢀon:
ECPAT Internaꢀonal. (2019). ECPAT Country
Overview: Mauriꢀus. Bangkok: ECPAT Internaꢀonal.
© ECPAT Internaꢀonal, 2019
Publishedꢁby:
ECPAT Internaꢀonal
328/1 Phaya Thai Road, Ratchathewi,
Bangkok, 10400 Thailand
Tel: +662 215 3388 | | info@ecpat.org

Preface
Recent years have seen unprecedented progress towards embedding the child’s right to protecꢀon from sexual exploitaꢀon more deeply into the global agenda, no more so than the global mandate to eliminate the sexual exploitaꢀon of children (SEC) enshrined in the Sustainable
Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by world leaders in 2015. ECPAT Country Overviews on SEC provide an effecꢀve tool for advocacy at all levels as well as for monitoring, including on government commitments made in the SDGs to end violence against children in all its different forms by 2030. Council.
ECPAT Country Overviews also suggest concrete priority acꢀons urgently needed to proacꢀvely advance the naꢀonal fight against SEC and enable the monitoring of the implementaꢀon of internaꢀonal instruments on child rights related to sexual exploitaꢀon that have been raꢀfied by the State. Furthermore, the ECPAT Country Overviews provide well-organized informaꢀon and research, which can be used in preparing Alternaꢀve Reports and Addiꢀonal Submissions to the Commiꢁee on the Rights of the Child and the Human Rights
ECPAT Country Overviews are first and foremost, a desk review exercise that gather and present all the exisꢀng publicly available informaꢀon into a comprehensive summary of all forms of SEC in a country. They do not contain any new primary data. They also provide an assessment of achievements and challenges in implemenꢀng counteracꢀons - including the parꢀcipaꢀon of children themselves - to eliminate SEC. inputs.
During the process, draꢂs are shared with ECPAT members, relevant local organisaꢀons, and experts working on the ground who review the content and supplement the informaꢀon with other local sources and analysis. ECPAT Internaꢀonal greatly relies on the contribuꢀons of all those involved in producing these reports and would like to express its profound appreciaꢀon for their invaluable ECPAT Country Overview: A report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitaꢀon of children in Mauriꢀus
1

At a Glance
The Republic of Mauriꢀus (hereinaꢂer
Pornography (OPSC); however, no report has been submiꢁed for the OPSC review so far. At the regional level, Mauriꢀus has raꢀfied the African
Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, although it has not submiꢁed any naꢀonal periodic report to the African Commiꢁee on the Rights and Welfare of the Child so far.
‘Mauriꢀus’) is a small island in the Indian Ocean with a populaꢀon of 1,262,000 out of which approximately 23% are children. There are several potenꢀal contribuꢀng factors that can lead to the sexual exploitaꢀon of children (SEC) in Mauriꢀus including social norms, poverty and unemployment, sexual taboos and limited sexual educaꢀon as well as dropping out of school early.
Furthermore, it is important to note the existence of especially vulnerable groups to SEC, such as children living in the street, children not registered at birth and children from Creole cultural There is a lack of clarity, comprehension, and uniformity in Mauriꢀus’ naꢀonal legislaꢀon in relaꢀon to all forms of child sexual exploitaꢀon. background. The main laws penalising SEC- related offences are the Child Protecꢀon Act and the Criminal
Code, but these insufficiently address SEC in many ways and do not always meet the standards set by internaꢀonal convenꢀons. Naꢀonal laws also do not establish extraterritorial jurisdicꢀon over all SEC- related offences but only over trafficking under certain circumstances. The approval of the Children’s Bill (bringing all legislaꢀon concerning children under the same text), is more urgent than ever in order to solve loopholes and ensure effecꢀve protecꢀon of children.
In terms of exploitaꢀon in prosꢀtuꢀon, although the number of reported cases and vicꢀms as well as convicꢀons decreased in the last years, the issue persists. The increase in Internet access and mobile cell phones subscripꢀons leads to
Mauriꢀan children becoming more and more vulnerable to online child sexual exploitaꢀon.
With regard to child trafficking, data from the police force does not differenꢀate trafficking for sexual purposes from other forms of trafficking and therefore the scale of the problem remains unclear. Addiꢀonally, being one of the top tourism desꢀnaꢀons in the region, children in Mauriꢀus may be vulnerable to sexual exploitaꢀon in travel and tourism. Cases of child, early and forced marriages have been reported in the country due to loopholes in the legislaꢀon and liꢁle acꢀon by the government in this regard. It is important to note that one recurrent problem is the lack of comprehensive and centralized data collecꢀon systems at the naꢀonal level to esꢀmate the scale of sexual exploitaꢀon of children and its manifestaꢀons and monitor progress made to they need. combat the phenomenon.
At the naꢀonal level, the government does not have a main body specifically coordinaꢀng policies and measures against the sexual exploitaꢀon of children. Instead, several governmental bodies deal with children’s rights, such as the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family
Welfare, the Naꢀonal Children’s Council, and the Office of the Ombudsperson for Children. This parꢀꢀon of authority can lead to challenges in terms of coordinaꢀon and communicaꢀon and may result in children not receiving the protecꢀon Although Mauriꢀus is making notable efforts to tackle the issue of SEC, it appears that the phenomenon is sꢀll prevalent and more prevenꢀve measures and awareness raising is needed. The Crime Prevenꢀon Unit, and the ‘Brigade des
With regard to internaꢀonal commitments,
Mauriꢀus is a party to the Convenꢀon on the Rights of the Child and its Opꢀonal Protocol on the Sale of Children, Child Prosꢀtuꢀon and Child
ECPAT Country Overview: A report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitaꢀon of children in Mauriꢀus
2Mineurs’, carry out various acꢀviꢀes related to SEC prevenꢀon such as public awareness campaigns in schools and community centres on dangers and consequences of ‘child sex trafficking’. Other government bodies working on prevenꢀon include the Naꢀonal Cybercrime Prevenꢀon Commiꢁee, the Police Family Protecꢀon Unit as well as civil society organisaꢀons and the private sector.
There are several government bodies working together to ensure the protecꢀon of child vicꢀms of SEC. Despite efforts made in this regard, there is also a scarcity of resources in the country in terms of recovery and reintegraꢀon services for child vicꢀms of SEC. The government has set up rehabilitaꢀon centres and shelters for child vicꢀms but an adequate and sufficient provision of services is not always ensured. Furthermore, there is a lack of provision in terms of access to compensaꢀon for child vicꢀms of sexual exploitaꢀon. Forums or plaꢃorms for vicꢀms and survivors are scarce, and despite the existence of two bodies at the naꢀonal level for children’s parꢀcipaꢀon, actual involvement of children in government planning or civic life is considerably limited.
Despite the availability of mechanisms aiming to provide access to jusꢀce for child vicꢀms, several problems have been idenꢀfied in relaꢀon to legal aid and assistance as well as the need to ensure a child-friendly environment and protecꢀon of vicꢀms’ privacy during legal proceedings.
ECPAT Country Overview: A report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitaꢀon of children in Mauriꢀus
3INTERNET ACCESS
POPULATION
SOURCE: ITU Staꢀsꢀcs 2018: Mauriꢀus
SꢀꢁꢂCEꢃ ꢁꢄICEꢅ State of the ꢆorldꢇꢈ Children ꢂeport 2ꢉ1ꢊ
Cꢉꢃꢊꢋꢆꢂꢄ ꢌꢄꢋꢂꢆ ꢍꢎ ꢏꢂꢀꢆꢈ
Hꢀꢁꢂ ꢃꢄꢅꢂꢆꢄꢂꢅ ꢀꢇꢇꢂꢈꢈ
23%
2016
55.6%
POVERTY RATE
MOBILE PHONE USERS
SOURCE: ITU Staꢀsꢀcs 2018: Mauriꢀus
SOURCE: Poverty Equity Data Portal: World Bank
Living under the na�onal poverty line
151.2%
7.9%
1.25 m
2012
151.2 mobile phone subscrip�ons per 100 inhabitants
CHILDREN’S RIGHTS UNDER THE LAW
Girls Boys
Age of consent for sex 16 16
Minimum age for marriage 18* 18*
Legal working age 16 16
Compulsory age of schooling 16 16
*ꢁꢁ Excepꢀonsꢁinꢁtheꢁlawꢁallowꢁforꢁmarriagesꢁunderꢁ18ꢁunderꢁcertainꢁcondiꢀons.
ECPAT Country Overview: A report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitaꢀon of children in Mauriꢀus
4

Introducꢀon
COUNTRY OVERVIEW AND SPECIFIC
VULNERABILITIES LEADING TO THE SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN
ꢀAꢁꢂITIꢁꢃ
ꢀ1,262,000
CꢃꢄLD PꢁPꢅLꢆTꢄꢁꢇ
Mauriꢀus is a small island naꢀon in the Indian
Ocean. Considered part of the African conꢀnent, it is situated 800km off the east coast of Madagascar and it is comprised of the main island of Mauriꢀus and three other smaller island dependencies:
Rodrigues, Agalega and St. Brandon.1 The country has a populaꢀon of over 1,262,000 inhabitants and children represent approximately 23% of the populaꢀon.2 An interesꢀng fact about Mauriꢀus in terms of its demographics is that it has the lowest ferꢀlity rate in Africa as of 2017.3 According to media reports ciꢀng governmental staꢀsꢀcs, the decline in the ferꢀlity rate can be aꢁributed to an increasing employment rate of women and a receding mean marriage age.4
CHILDREN
23ꢀ
ꢁthers ꢂꢂꢀ
Historically, Mauriꢀus was colonised by the Netherlands, France and the United Kingdom
(UK), but regained its independence from the UK in 1968. Aꢂer independence, a parliamentary republican government was insꢀtuted.5 Mauriꢀus’ ethnic makeup is a product of two centuries of colonisaꢀon from Europe and labour migraꢀon from Asia and conꢀnental Africa, with Indo-
Mauriꢀans making up nearly two thirds of the total populaꢀon, followed by Creoles, Sino-
Mauriꢀans and Franco-Mauriꢀans.6 Concerning religion, because of Indian influence, Hinduism is most prevalent with 48.5%, followed by Roman
Catholicism, Islam, and other forms of Chrisꢀanity.7
While the official language of the Naꢀonal
Assembly is English, less than 1% of the populaꢀon speaks it. Approximately 86.5% of the populaꢀon speaks Creole, followed by Bhojpuri 5.3%, and French 4.1%.8
Mauriꢀus has achieved a spectacular economic transformaꢀon over the last 40 years.9 Mauriꢀus
1Mauriꢀus Aꢁracꢀons (n.d.), Geography of Mauriꢀus.
2UNICEF (2017), The State of the World’s Children 2017: Children in a Digital World, UNICEF Publicaꢀons, 175.
3World Bank Data (2017), Ferꢀlity Rate – Mauriꢀus.
4Indian Ocean Times (n.d.), Mauriꢀus:ꢁtheꢁferꢀlityꢁrateꢁdecreasedꢁinꢁ20ꢁyearsꢁonꢁtheꢁisland.
5BBC News (2019), MauritiusꢁCountryꢁProfileꢁ–ꢁTimeline.
6Index Mundi (2018), MauritiusꢁDemographicsꢁProfileꢁ2018.
7Ibid.
8Ibid.
9World Bank Data (2017), GDPꢁperꢁCapitaꢁ-ꢁMauritiusꢁ1976-2017.
ECPAT Country Overview: A report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitaꢀon of children in Mauriꢀus
5ranked 65th, out of 179 countries in the Human
Development Index in 2018 just aꢂer Turkey and ahead of Panama and Serbia; this score gives
Mauriꢀus the status of high human development.10
The gross domesꢀc product per capita at purchasing power parity reached $22,356 in
201711 being one of the highest in Sub-Saharan
Africa.12 A key sector of Mauriꢀus’ economy is the tourism industry,13 which may increase children’s vulnerability to sexual exploitaꢀon in travel and tourism, as explained in the dedicated secꢀon no available informaꢀon of the progress made to address these concerns over the last few years and more research on current risk factors and the vulnerability of certain groups is needed.
A survey conducted by SAFIRE in 2012 revealed that 6,780 children and young adults aged between 5 and 19 were living on the streets.18
The Commiꢁee on the Rights of the Child also expressed concern in 2015 over the government’s lack of appropriate measures to address the below. magnitude of this problem.19 At the ꢀme of wriꢀng, there is no informaꢀon available on the number of Mauriꢀan children currently living on the streets or whether any progress has been made in this regard. If this is sꢀll the case, the fact that a significant number of children may be consistent.15 living and/or working on the streets is of serious concern because, as global research shows, they can easily become targets of all forms of sexual According to the Child Protecꢀon Act, a child is
“any unmarried person under the age of 18”.14
There are several other naꢀonal legislaꢀons defining a child or a juvenile, which are not wholly The Special Rapporteur on the sale of children and sexual exploitaꢀon pointed out, in her visit to exploitaꢀon.20
Mauriꢀus in 2011, several noꢀceable issues that influence children’s rights and development and could potenꢀally lead to their sexual exploitaꢀon.
Those included social norms, poverty and unemployment, sexual taboos and limited sexual educaꢀon as well as high school dropout rates.16
Furthermore, children living and/or working in the streets and children not registered at birth were described as being among the most vulnerable to child sexual exploitaꢀon.17 However, there is
The Creole community is especially impacted by poverty21 and it has been reported that children of Creole cultural background are oꢂen discriminated by the police,22 which could also result in reluctance of Creole vicꢀms to report incidents to law enforcement. Lastly, lack of birth registraꢀon exposes affected children to a magnitude of rights violaꢀons; such as being denied access to healthcare and educaꢀon as well as vulnerability
10 United Naꢀons Development Programme (2018), Human Development Indices and Indicators: 2018 Staꢀsꢀcal Update, 23.
11 World Bank Data (2017), GDPꢁperꢁcapitaꢁ–ꢁMauritius.
12 World Bank Data (2017), GDPꢁperꢁcapita,ꢁRegionalꢁComparison.
13 World Bank Data (2017), MauritiusꢁOverview.
14 Child Protection Act (1994), Arꢀcle 2.
15 In the Interpretaꢀon and General Clauses Act, a minor is defined as any unmarried person under the age of 18. The Civil Code defines a minor as an individual of either sex who is not yet 18 years of age. The Juveniles Offenders Act defines a juvenile as a person under the age of 18. A ‘young person’ means a person who has reached the age of 14 and is under the age of 18. The Probaꢀon of Offenders Act defines a minor as a person under the age of 18. A child means a person under the age of 18 according to the Ombudsperson for Children Act. Under the Employment Rights Act, a child is a person under the age of 16. Under the Immigraꢀon Act, a dependent child is under the age of 24. The Family Allowance Act defines a child as any unmarried person under the age of 14. Under the Social Aid Act, a child means an unmarried person who is under the age of 20.
16 Human Rights Council (2011), ReportꢁofꢁtheꢁSpecialꢁRapporteurꢁonꢁtheꢁsaleꢁofꢁchildrenꢁandꢁsexualꢁexploitationꢁonꢁherꢁvisitꢁtoꢁ
Mauritius, 9 November 2011, A/HRC/19/63/Add.1, para. 19.
17 Ibid.
18 Safire (2012), StudyꢁonꢁStreetꢁChildrenꢁinꢁMauritius, 40. See also: Mauritius:ꢁTheꢁalarmingꢁsituationꢁofꢁstreetꢁchildrenꢁworriesꢁsocialꢁ
workersꢁandꢁassociationsꢁofꢁtheꢁisland (9 August 2013), IndianꢁOceanꢁTimes.
19 Commiꢁee on the Rights of the Child (2015), ConcludingꢁObservationsꢁonꢁtheꢁReportꢁsubmittedꢁbyꢁtheꢁRepublicꢁofꢁMauritiusꢁunderꢁ
Articleꢁ44ꢁofꢁtheꢁConvention,ꢁparas 67-68.
20 ECPAT Internaꢀonal (2016), Power,ꢁImpunityꢁandꢁAnonimity:ꢁUnderstandingꢁtheꢁForcesꢁDrivingꢁtheꢁDemandꢁforꢁSexualꢁExploitationꢁ
of Children, 42. For a case study analysing the vulnerability of children in street situaꢀon, see also: Hecht, M. et al., (2015), AꢁDeskꢁ
StudyꢁonꢁtheꢁSexualꢁExploitationꢁofꢁChildrenꢁinꢁTravelꢁandꢁTourismꢁinꢁtheꢁMiddleꢁEastꢁandꢁNorthꢁAfricanꢁRegion:ꢁAꢁContributionꢁforꢁ theꢁGlobalꢁStudyꢁonꢁtheꢁSexualꢁExploitationꢁofꢁChildrenꢁinꢁTravelꢁandꢁTourismꢁconductedꢁbyꢁECPATꢁInternational. (Bangkok: ECPAT
Internaꢀonal, 2015).
21 Humanium (n.d.), ChildrenꢁofꢁMauritius,ꢁrealisingꢁchildren’sꢁrightsꢁinꢁMauritius, ; See also, Mauriꢀus (16 September 2013), Indian
OceanꢁTimes.
22 Convenꢀon on the Rights of the Child (2014) AlternativeꢁReportꢁforꢁMauritius, 13.
ECPAT Country Overview: A report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitaꢀon of children in Mauriꢀus
6to exploitaꢀve child labour, early child marriage and trafficking – all factors that can lead to sexual The absence of a centralised data gathering system at the naꢀonal level that can provide exploitaꢀon.23 comprehensive staꢀsꢀcs on the different forms of SEC means that the true extent and severity of the problem is unknown. Without this crucial first step, it would be an insurmountable task to not only idenꢀfy, but also to lessen the risk factors that lead to SEC in the first place.
It is hard to get an overall picture of the scope of child sexual exploitaꢀon in the country.
Data is scarce and staꢀsꢀcs from the police department focus only on a few crimes related to child sexual exploitaꢀon.24 Data collected by
Helpline Mauriꢀus, iniꢀated and operated by
Halley Movement, the ECPAT Member in the country, although only reflecꢀng the number of cases reported through their helpline, may serve as an indicator of the extent of the problem in the country. The helpline receives complaints nearly every day, with more than 900 complaints recorded from 2017 to 2018 reporꢀng different types of abuse affecꢀng children. Since 2018, around 100 cases of cyberbullying, most of which refer to sexual bullying have been recorded.25 task.
The Mauriꢀan Government reported in 2018 that the Ministry of Gender Equality has hired a consultant to work on the design of a holisꢀc system that will capture updated staꢀsꢀcs on cases of violence against children (as well as gender based violence cases) at a naꢀonal level. This iniꢀaꢀve aims to strengthen naꢀonal capacity to collect, analyse and disseminate official staꢀsꢀcs and guide policymaking.26 However, no informaꢀon has been found regarding the compleꢀon of this ꢀEꢁꢂꢁIꢃE
ꢄAꢅꢆITIꢅꢇ
ꢆEꢈEIꢉEꢇ
ꢈꢊꢄꢂꢁAIꢃTꢇ
ꢃEAꢆꢁꢋ EꢉEꢆꢋ
ꢌAꢋ
ꢀꢁꢁ ꢈꢊꢄꢂꢁAIꢃTꢇ ꢆEꢈꢊꢆꢌEꢌ
ꢍꢆꢊꢄ ꢎꢏꢐꢑ Tꢊ ꢎꢏꢐꢒꢓ ꢇIꢃꢈE
ꢎꢏꢐꢒ Aꢆꢊꢅꢃꢌ ꢂꢁꢁ CASES OF CYBERBULLYINGꢔ ꢄꢊꢇT ꢊꢍ
ꢕꢀIꢈꢀ ꢆEꢍEꢆ Tꢊ ꢇEꢖꢅAꢁ
ꢗꢅꢁꢁꢋIꢃꢘꢔ ꢀAꢉE ꢗEEꢃ
ꢆEꢈꢊꢆꢌEꢌꢓ
23 Cody, C. (2009), Countꢁeveryꢁchild:ꢁTheꢁrightꢁtoꢁbirthꢁregistration, Woking, Plan Ltd. Publicaꢀon producꢀon and design by Plan’s
Global Publicaꢀons Team, Woking, UK, 21-23. See also: UNICEF (2016, 25 Oct), Childꢁprotectionꢁfromꢁviolence,ꢁexploitationꢁandꢁ
abuse:ꢁBirthꢁregistration.
24 Staꢀsꢀcs Mauriꢀus (2018), DigestꢁofꢁCrime,ꢁJusticeꢁandꢁSecurityꢁ-ꢁStatisticsꢁ2017.
25 HalleyꢁMovement (May 2019), Personal Communicaꢀon.
26 Commiꢁee on the Eliminaꢀon of Discriminaꢀon Against Women (2018), EighthꢁperiodicꢁreportꢁsubmittedꢁbyꢁMauritiusꢁunderꢁ
articleꢁ18ꢁofꢁtheꢁConventionꢁpursuantꢁtoꢁtheꢁsimplifiedꢁreportingꢁprocedure, para. 8.
ECPAT Country Overview: A report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitaꢀon of children in Mauriꢀus
7The Context of the Sexual
Exploitaꢀon of Children in
Mauriꢀus are needed to prevent children from being forced into prosꢀtuꢀon.
EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN IN
PROSTITUTION27
Root causes for exploitaꢀon of children in prosꢀtuꢀon remain mostly unexplored. According to a recent study that analyses the relaꢀonship between teenage motherhood and prosꢀtuꢀon in Mauriꢀus, although children do not openly parꢀcipate in the prosꢀtuꢀon sector because the law forbids it, they intervene indirectly through intermediaries and facilitators such as taxi drivers and staff in hotels, bars and nightclubs.34 The study further argues that teenage pregnancies are one of the main risk factors leading to engagement of children in prosꢀtuꢀon.35 Underage mothers oꢂen face a lack of support by family members and even experience situaꢀons of violence at the family household. This, together with decreasing work opportuniꢀes, makes them leave home and seek informal employment that does not require them to leave their children alone for long hours.
As a result, prosꢀtuꢀon oꢂen seems like the only viable alternaꢀve.36 These findings are significant if we take into account that teenage pregnancy is prevalent in Mauriꢀus. A survey conducted by the Mauriꢀan Ministry of Health in 2014, found