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Muvman Liberasyon Fam demands more care for rape victims

17.01.2004

Muvman Liberasyon Fam (Womens' Liberation Movement) has this week written to the Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs to demand that government ensure that police refer rape victims to the nearest Rape Crisis Unit, and that it popularises the existence of these Rape Crisis Units. Two Rape Crisis Units were set up in two major hospitals after Muvman Liberasyon Fam campaigned for them to be set up in all regional general hospitals. Rape victims are confronted with the trauma of having to face the unsupportive environment of the police station, and long protracted State procedures for registering their complaint after having gone through rape. Muvman Liberasyon Fam is campaigning so that the State cares for rape victims, instead of extending their abuse.
Lalit publishes their letter in full.
The Prime Minister and
Minister of Home Affairs
Treasury Building
Port Louis

15th January, 2004

Dear Sir,

We note with concern, that police are not referring victims of rape to the newly-created Rape Crisis Units at Victoria Hospital in Candos and Jeetoo Hospital in Port Louis. Neither has there been a campaign undertaken by government in hospitals, in Social Centres, in Area and Community Health Centres, in schools, to make public officers and the public at large aware of the existence of these two Rape Crisis Units.

You will recall that these two units were set up last year. We, in the Muvman Liberasyon Fam demanded in September 2002 the setting up of Rape Crisis Centres in all Regional General Hospitals including Rodrigues. There, rape victims get immediate medical treatment, psychological treatment, preventive treatment for STDs including AIDS. At the same time, they are examined by a Police Medical Officer and can also give their statement to a police-woman in a caring, "medical" environment. We specifically made this demand because of the double trauma of rape victims who after having been sexually abused, have to go through another trauma of re-living this abuse through gruelling, protracted procedures, much of this in the unsupportive environment of the police station. This demand gained wide support not only in the women's movement, but also nationally. The government did partially respond to our demand and set up two Rape Crisis Units in two major hospitals after Mrs. Sandra O'Reilly's bold actions provoked national debate on rape which resulted in a huge leap in national awareness about the need for all people to care for and support rape victims. However government is making no effort to popularise these Rape Crisis Units thus perpetuating the double trauma experienced by rape victims. We give just a few examples in the last month of the suffering inflicted by the State on rape victims when they are not referred to Rape Crisis Units:

* A girl of 13 years was raped in G.R.N.W. on the 21st of December, 2003, and was then tied up, naked. A fisherman passing by saw her in distress and assisted her in getting home that night. According to L'Express of 27th of December, 2003, with his assistance, she got home at 19.30 hrs, and was taken by her family to the Pointe au Sable Police Station and only finished giving her statement at 4.30hrs, Monday morning! At midday, she was taken to Casernes Central where a Police Medical Officer examined her, and only then was she taken to hospital for medical treatment. The article states that she was suffering from acute pain.

* Yet another girl of 13 years was raped in Ville Noire on Saturday 3rd of January, 2004. She was gang-raped by 5 men (one of them according to press reports, is a police officer) in the middle of a birthday party she went to in her neighbourhood. She was taken to Nehru hospital in Rose Belle where to our knowledge, there is no Rape Crisis Centre. (L'Express 10th of January, 2004)

* A young woman of 23 years was raped in Trou d'Eau Douce on the 11th of January while she was coming home from work. She said that she had been raped by the driver of the van who usually returns hotel employees home from work in the van itself. She was taken to Flacq hospital for treatment and was examined by a Police Medical Officer two days later, on Tuesday 13th of January afternoon. (Le Mauricien 14th January, 2004)

For how long will the State continue inflicting such suffering on women? This suffering must stop.

We demand the following:
* That you, as Minister of Home Affairs, ensure that the Commissioner of Police directs police officers to inform rape victims of the existence of and services offered at Rape Crisis Units and take them to the nearest one.
* That your government ensure that all SAMU, area and community health staff, hospital staff be made aware of the importance of referring rape victims to the nearest Rape Crisis Unit.
* That more effort be made by the government, including the Ministry of Women's Rights to ensure that the public is made aware of these Rape Crisis Units through Social and Community Centres, Health Centres, police stations, schools.

We assume that the government intends these Rape Crisis Units to actually work.

Yours sincerely,

Veena Dholah
For Muvman Liberasyon Fam

C.C. - The Minister for Women's Rights,
The Minister of Health
The Commissioner of Police