Domestic Violence: A Daily Terror in Most Mauritian Families
- 1. History.
- 2. Modernization.
- 3. Measures to end domestic violence.
- Appendix. An introduction to Mauritius.
This statement of the magistrate in a local court was quoted in L'Express, the only morning daily in Mauritius on Friday, 28th April 1995. The statement refers to a miserable wife who was alone with her children, constantly subjected to violence by her husband. Very often the husband returned home at night totally drunk and behaved violently to his family. The terrified wife often had to take shelter in the nearby sugar-cane field to hide herself and her children from the violent husband.
The incident mentioned above occurred at night, when the wife, after a hard day's work, was boiling water to bathe her tired feet and the drunk husband entered the kitchen with a knife and threatened her: "Mo pou coupe toi azaordi [I will stab you today]." The panic-stricken wife threw the boiling water at her husband who was advancing towards her with the knife in his hand. The husband eventually died of his injuries and the wife was prosecuted by the police for manslaughter.
This kind of violent scene is very common in most families in Mauritius. The violence can be of different forms: physical and verbal, rape, stabbing, burning with cigarettes, with hot oil, or hot water. In some extreme cases the wife has been burnt to death by fire, and this is then described as accidental fire or suicide.
It is to be noted that domestic violence is confined not only to families on low incomes. Strangely, domestic violence is a regular feature in better-off families where both couples are well educated, and may be professionals or have a high social status. In fact, the wives in the high-class families are embarrassed to protest openly against violence by their husbands, who have a good position in society. They keep the whole matter to themselves. Often the bruises on their bodies reveal the truth. These battered women prefer to maintain their social status rather than go to the courts and ask for a divorce on grounds of violence. For this reason, reliable statistics of domestic violence are not available.
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