Gender Equality in Mauritius

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Mauritius
flag_Mauritius.png
Flag of Mauritius
Population (in Mil.) 1.29
Gross Domestic Product (In USD Billions - WB) 11.44
Sex Ratio (m/f) 0.97
Life Expectancy Ratio (f/m) 1.1
Fertility Rate 1.79
Estimated Earned Income (f/m) 0.45
Tertiary Enrolment Ratio (f/m) 24.9
Women in Parliament (in %) 18.8
INDICES
Human Development Index 80/187
Social Institutions and Gender Index /86
Gender Inequality Index 80/186
Gender Equity Index 72/168
Women’s Economic Opportunity Index 37/128
Global Gender Gap Index /68
More information on variables

The Constitution of Mauritius has been amended to include gender in the definition of discrimination. In addition, the government adopted (in 2000) a law against sexual discrimination. All citizens are equal under Mauritian legislation, but the society is very multi-cultural and remains firmly rooted in tradition. Moreover, men dominate the social system.

Approximately 17% of the population of Mauritius is Muslim; family life within this community is governed by Islamic Sharia law, which contradicts the principle of non-discrimination in the areas of adoption, Marriage, Divorce and Inheritance.

Social Institutions

Mauritius obtained its independence from Great Britain in 1968 and became a republic in 1992.[1] The Central Intelligence Agency reports that Mauritius has enjoyed a stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record.[2] However, economic growth has been slowed in recent times due to adverse weather, declining sugar and declining textile and apparel production.[3] The World Bank classifies Mauritius as an upper middle income country.[4] Although Mauritius has introduced quite wide-ranging initiatives to promote equality between women and men, a stark gender gap in economic and political participation continues. The government has recently adopted the Equal Opportunities Act (2011) which emphasises equality of opportunities. Although women in Mauritius fare well in terms of educational attainment, this has not translated into equality in terms of wage equality, income levels or representation in political life.[5] In 1995, the Constitution of Mauritius was amended to include gender in Section 16 which guarantees protection from discrimination.[6] It should be noted that the discrimination clause does not apply to personal status law, including adoption, marriage, divorce, burial and devolution of property on death. [7] In 2011, the Human Development Index for Mauritius was 0.728, placing the country at 77 out of 187 countries.[8] For the Gender Inequality Index Mauritius received a score of 0.353, placing the country at 6346 out of 146 countries with data.[9] In 2011, the World Economic Forum ranked Mauritius 95 out of 135 countries in its 2011 Global Gender Gap Report, with a score of 0.6529 where 0 represents inequality and 1 represents equality.[10]

Discriminatory Family Code

The Civil Code provides that a person in Mauritius can get married at the age of 18 years. However, a female aged 16 years can get married with the consent of her parents, or with the consent of one of the parents exercising parental authority or in the absence of the consent of parents, by the Judge in Chambers if the latter considers that it would be in the interests of the minor to get married.[11]

The United Nations reports, based on 20004 data, that 10 % of girls between 15 and 19 years of age were married, divorced or widowed, compared to 1 % of boys in the same age range. In 1977, 14 % of girls aged between 15 and 19 were married, divorced or widowed which indicates that societal acceptance of early marriage is slowly declining.[12] Polygamy is not recognised in civil law in Mauritius. However, polygamy is recognised in Islamic personal laws which provide that a man can marry more than one woman.[13] The Constitution provides for Muslims to be governed by personal laws should they wish.[14] There is no available data on the prevalence of polygamous marriages in Mauritius. The Mauritian Civil Code provides both spouses with the same rights and obligations in regard to parental authority.[15]However, in practice gendered stereotypes with respect to family roles prevail, where men continue to perform the main breadwinner role and women fulfil the primary carer role.[16] With respect to divorce, the Civil Code provides equal rights for both women and men.[17] In the event of divorce, custody of children under the age of five is generally granted to the mother[18] with a requirement of child support payments.[19] However, it is reported that the rights of Muslim women with respect to divorce are infringed by Islamic personal laws.[20] Women are required to attend the Muslim Family Council to ask for a divorce, whereas men can divorce their wives by ‘talaaq’ or repudiation. If the husband does not attend the panel with the Muslim Family Council or if the panel does not consider the woman’s justifications to be valid, the woman is unable to divorce her husband.[21] New legislation was passed in 2011 enabling divorce by mutual consent although it is unclear whether this applies to marriages under Islamic laws too.

Mauritian women have equal rights as men in regard to inheritance.[22] Widows and widowers inherit the property of the deceased spouse, whatever the circumstances and the matrimonial regime, even if the deceased did not leave a written will. There are no legal or customary restrictions that favour male heirs over females.[23]

Restricted Physical Integrity

Section 249 of the Criminal Code of Mauritius criminalises the offence of rape.[24] The US Department of State reports that the penalty for rape is 20 years' imprisonment, with a fine not exceeding 200,000 rupees (833 USD).[25] There is no specific prohibition of marital rape in the current law, although the Government has presented a Sexual Offences Bill in 2007 which criminalises marital rape. As of 2010, the bill had not been passed into law.[26]

In 1997, the Protection from Domestic Violence Act was introduced which provides for protection orders, occupancy orders and tenancy orders and offers a wide definition of domestic violence to include physical, emotional, sexual violence and even threatened violence.[27] Anyone found guilty of violating a protection order may be fined up to 25,000 rupees (833 USD) or imprisoned for up to two years.[28] In 2004, amendments were for the law to cover cases of domestic violence committed by any person living under the same roof, increase the penalty and provide for counselling.[29] Sexual harassment is also prohibited in Mauritius under the Sex Discrimination Act 2002.[30]

There is limited recent prevalence data on violence against women in Mauritius. However, police reports of rapes have risen in recent years, from 38 in 2005 to 77 in 2007.[31] The US Department of State reports that rape is widespread and under-reported due to cultural pressure and fear of retaliation.[32] Domestic violence is also reported to be increasing. According to the Family Support Bureau and Protections Orders of the Ministry of Women's Rights there were 2246 official cases reported in 2008 compared to 1036 in 2005.[33]

There is no evidence to suggest that female genital mutilation is a common practice in Mauritius.[34]

Having control over the timing and spacing of children is an important aspect of women’s physical integrity. In Mauritius, abortion is permitted for therapeutic reasons to save the woman’s life. It is not permitted in the event of rape or incest, due to foetal impairment, on request or on social or economic grounds.[35] Despite the law, women continue to seek abortions through illegal channels, often jeopardising their health. Statistics from the Ministry of Health and Quality of life show that on average 2,400 women are hospitalised each year for treatment of post-abortion complications.[36] The World Economic Forum reported in 2010 that 76 % of married women use contraception.[37]

Son Bias

Gender disaggregated data on rates of infant mortality and early childhood nutrition are not available for Mauritius. Mauritius has achieved gender parity in primary, secondary and tertiary enrolments which indicates that there is no preferential treatment of sons in access to education.[38] The Central Intelligence Agency reports that in 2012 Mauritius has a male/female sex ratio for the total population of 0.97.[39] There is no evidence to suggest that Mauritius is a country of concern with respect to missing women.

Restricted Resources and Entitlements

Women can hold titles to land on the same basis as men. Indeed, women have equal rights to buy, own and sell land. They may also inherit land from their parents or other relatives, just like men.[40] There is no data available on the proportion of land owned by women.

With respect to ownership of property other than land, women are treated equally with men under the law with respect to their legal rights to conclude contracts and administer property without the interference or consent of a male partner. However, specific provisions may apply dependent on the type of matrimonial regime, although the impact then, is equally applied to men and women.[41] The Mauritian Civil Code had been amended in 1981 to allow a woman to choose, upon marriage, whether she preferred a separate property or community property regime. If she chooses a separate property regime she retains and manages all her own wealth and earnings.[42] Marriages under the community of property regime are governed by specific measures, but these concern men more than women and mutual consent is necessary only for certain operations.[43]

There are no indications that Mauritian women face discrimination in regards to access to bank loans, but in a marriage under the community of property regime, either spouse must have their partner’s consent to obtain a loan.[44] In the past, women had been required to provide collateral even for loans as small as 50,000 rupees. That had been a major problem for poor women who rented their homes and did not own land. As a result of government negotiations with banks, women can now obtain loans of up to 300,000 rupees without collateral.[45]

Restricted Civil Liberties

Women are accorded the same legal rights of freedom of movement and choice of residence as men. Marriage does not limit women’s right to choose her residence although the conjugal roof is where both husband and wife are domiciled and in most cases, is decided by the male partner.[46] The US Department of State reports that the government in Mauritius generally respects press freedom. However, there are some reported cases of intimidation of journalist for criticising government.[47] Despite this press freedom, discriminatory attitudes are evident in the representation of women’s issues in the media. A 2010 study which monitored the media in Mauritius found that if unknown sources are excluded, women constitute just 19% of the news sources in the media monitored for the study.[48] With respect to women’s participation in political life, the World Economic Forum reports that women make up only 17 % of Lesotho’s parliamentarians and only 10 % of Ministerial positions.[49] The most recent elections were held in 2007.[50] The forthcoming Local Government Act to be proclaimed in 2011/2012 makes provision for any group presenting more than 2 candidates in an electoral ward during Municipal and Village Council elections to ensure that the candidates are not all of the same sex.[51]

Women in Mauritius are entitled to the right to work, and this includes the right to choose a profession, job security, equal pay, benefits, vocational training, maternity leave and child-care.[52] The right to equality and non-discrimination on the basis of gender in the field of employment is set out in the Sex Discrimination Act 2002.[53]Mauritius provides a paid maternity leave entitlement of 12 weeks leave at 100 % of wages.[54]

References

  1. United Nations General Assembly (2008) Human Rights Council, Working Group on Universal Periodic Review, National Report Submitted in accordance with paragraph 15 (a) of the annex to Human Rights Council Resolution 5/1: Mauritius, A/HRC/WG.6/4/MUS/1, Geneva, p.2
  2. Central Intelligence Agency (2010) The World Fact Book: Mauritius, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mp.html, accessed 1 December 2010.
  3. Central Intelligence Agency (2010) The World Fact Book: Mauritius, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/mp.html, accessed 1 December 2010.
  4. World Bank (n.d.) Online data: Mauritius, available at http://data.worldbank.org/country/mauritius, accessed at 20 November 2010.
  5. World Economic Forum (2010) Global Gender Gap Report 2010, Available at http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/report2010.pdf, accessed 20 October 2010.p.214
  6. Section 16, Constitution of Mauritius
  7. CEDAW (2006a), Concluding Observations : Mauritius, CEDAW/C//MAR/CO/5, New York.p.2
  8. United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf, accessed 29 February 2012.p.128
  9. United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf, accessed 29 February 2012.p.140
  10. World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Gender Gap Report 2011, available at http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GenderGap_Report_2011.pdf, accessed 2 March 2012. p.11
  11. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010.
  12. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2008) World Marriage Data 2008, available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/WMD2008/Main.html, accessed 10 October 2010.
  13. CEDAW (2006c), Summary Record of the 746th Meeting, CEDAW/C/SR.746, New York.para.43
  14. CEDAW (2006c), Summary Record of the 746th Meeting, CEDAW/C/SR.746, New York.para.41
  15. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York. p.75
  16. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York. p.75
  17. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.25
  18. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.26
  19. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.25
  20. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.9
  21. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.25
  22. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York. p.79
  23. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York. p.79
  24. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.15
  25. US State Department (2010) 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Mauritius, Available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135966.htm, accessed 3 December 2010.
  26. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.15
  27. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.14
  28. US State Department (2010) 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Mauritius, Available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135966.htm, accessed 3 December 2010.
  29. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.14
  30. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.16
  31. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.53
  32. US State Department (2010) 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Mauritius, Available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135966.htm, accessed 3 December 2010.
  33. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.55
  34. Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.), Legislation and Other National Provisions: Mauritius, Parliamentary Campaign “Stop Violence Against Women”: Female Genital Mutilation, IPU, Geneva, www.ipu.org/wmn-e/fgm-prov.htm, accessed 11 December 2010.
  35. United Nations Population Division (2007) World Abortion Policies 2007, Available at http://www.un.org/esa/population/publications/2007_Abortion_Policies_Chart/2007_WallChart.pdf, accessed 13 October 2010
  36. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York.p.65
  37. World Economic Forum (2010) Global Gender Gap Report 2010, Available at http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/report2010.pdf, accessed 20 October 2010.p.214
  38. World Economic Forum (2010) Global Gender Gap Report 2010, Available at http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/report2010.pdf, accessed 20 October 2010.p.214
  39. Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Fact Book: Sex Ratio, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2018.html, accessed 9 March 2012.
  40. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York.p.70
  41. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York. p.73
  42. CEDAW (2006c), Summary Record of the 746th Meeting, CEDAW/C/SR.746, New York.para.7
  43. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York.p.78
  44. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York.p.68
  45. CEDAW (2006c), Summary Record of the 746th Meeting, CEDAW/C/SR.746, New York.para.12
  46. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York.p.76
  47. US State Department (2010) 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Mauritius, Available at http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/af/135966.htm, accessed 3 December 2010.
  48. Gender Links (2010) Southern African Development Community Gender Protocol 2010 Report: Mauritius, available at http://www.genderlinks.org.za/article/sadc-gender-protocol-2010-mauritius-2010-11-26, accessed 11 December 2010. p.75
  49. World Economic Forum (2010) Global Gender Gap Report 2010, Available at http://www.weforum.org/pdf/gendergap/report2010.pdf, accessed 20 October 2010.p.214
  50. Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.), Legislation and Other National Provisions: Mauritius, Parliamentary Campaign “Stop Violence Against Women”: Female Genital Mutilation, IPU, Geneva, www.ipu.org/wmn-e/fgm-prov.htm, accessed 11 December 2010.
  51. The Local Government (Amendment) Bill (2010) available at http://www.gov.mu/portal/goc/assemblysite/file/bill1810.pdf, accessed 19 March 2012
  52. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York. p.55
  53. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York.p.55
  54. CEDAW (2005), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Mauritius, Combined Third, Fourth and Fifth Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/MAR/3-5, New York. p.59


The Women, Business and the Law

Where are laws equal for men and women?  

The Women, Business and the Law report presents indicators based on laws and regulations affecting women's prospects as entrepreneurs and employees. Several of these indicators draw on the Gender Law Library, a collection of over 2,000 legal provisions impacting women's economic status. This report does not seek to judge or rank countries, but to provide information to inform discussions about women’s economic rights. Women, Business and the Law provides data covering 6 areas: accessing institutions,using property, getting a job, providing incentives to work, building credit, and going to court.Read more about the methodology.

For detailed information on Mauritius, please visit the Women, Business and
the Law Mauritius
page.

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