The Commonwealth Secretary-General has welcomed new legislation in Seychelles that will help curb violence against women and girls.
President Danny Faure signed the Domestic Violence Act after it was unanimously passed by lawmakers, outlining tougher action against domestic abuse, better protection for victims and penalties for perpetrators as well as rehabilitation.
The Act will play a critical role in reducing the number of annual reported cases, which have tripled since the year 2000. More than 5,400 cases were registered at Family Tribunal between 2009 and 2019.
Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “The unanimous passing of the new Domestic Violence bill by the National Assembly of Seychelles, which has now been made law, must be recognised and commended. It sends a powerful message that violence against women and girls is wholly unacceptable and detrimental to society. The timing could not be more critical with the increase in reported incidents of domestic violence across the globe under COVID-19 lockdown measures.
“This milestone is the culmination of dedicated work by the Government and I am pleased the Commonwealth Secretariat was able to provide relevant support along this journey.”
Seychelles’ Minister of Family Affairs, Mitcy Larue, who presented the bill to the National Assembly stated: “As a country, we have the obligation to safeguard all sectors of our society. It is our wish that with this proposed legislation, we bring a new culture and a new way of living and being.
“[We hope to] consolidate the services that already exist, bring into being new ones, as well as reinforce education at all levels of the family and ensure we train our professionals and technicians to be able to implement the different facets of this new law.”
Since 2017, the Secretariat has pioneered ground-breaking research to estimate the direct and indirect costs of violence against women and girls (VAWG). The methodology was applied to the Seychelles, revealing that overall costs to the economy was about 4.6 per cent of GDP in 2016 – one per cent higher than the country’s annual budget for education.
The Commonwealth Secretariat also worked with the Ministry of Family Affairs to review national policy and legal frameworks for gender-based violence, and train local experts. It supported the Attorney General’s Office in its work to finalise the draft Domestic Violence bill that was finally tabled in parliament.
More projects are in the pipeline that aim to bring an end to violence against women and girls, as well as a positive economic impact to the country.
Photo credit: Seychelles State House