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D 3 avril 2022     H 05:00     A LALIT     C 0 messages

LALIT received a copy from the Muvman Liberasyon Fam of its new Women’s Common Platform in the context of International Women’s Day, 8 March.

Here is a copy of both the covering letter from MLF, and also their proposed Common Platform. LALIT will be considering adopting parts of the program, or the program as a whole as part of our ongoing Program for Women’s Emancipation and Liberation.

The from the MLF Secretary, Rajni Lallah, reads :

It is the third International Women’s Day that we have been living under the Coronavirus pandemic. And it was just before that, in 2019, during the build up to the general elections, that the MLF appealed in a Common Platform to all political parties to include in their programs fundamental change for women. The mainstream parties – winners and losers — did not really address the issue. But we, in the women’s movement, persist.

This year the MLF is updating the Common Platform for Women’s Emancipation that we adopted together with women outside MLF at the time. Instead of, as government parties do, turning to repression to “fix” social problems, or, as the opposition parties do, fighting over who will be Prime Minister, we call on all political parties to use the lessons of the pandemic and its lockdowns that, taken together, exacerbated existing social problems, so as, looking forward, to make progress for women and for society as a whole.

We at the same time welcome the raising of the marriage age to the age of majority, a demand for which we have fought for over 40 years. The setting up of a Children’s Court, and raising to 14 of the age of criminal liability is also welcomed. We welcome the official voyage to the Chagos to begin establish sovereignty over the whole of Mauritius’ territory, after a long struggle often led by Chagossian women and our members.

We ask your party to consider adopting a formal stance in your Programs on 11 big interlinked issues :

1. On “The Land Question” and Women

2. On Food Security and Food Sovereignty – A Women’s Issue

3. On Housing for every Woman ! Prevent Domestic Violence !

4. On Employment assured for All Women

5. On Peace, a Women’s Cause – For the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases !

6. No to Repression – it only Brings more Problems for Women

7. On Women’s Health, People’s Health and Public Health

8. On Education for Freedom instead of Education by Repression ! More Social Space for our Children

9. On Living with a Disability : Women, Children and Men

10. Women are not Objects to be Gawked at, or Objects to be Abused

11. On Technology — for the General Good

As you see, we are not interested in a program that is a long list of minor points, like a “shopping list”. We reject such lists of disparate items like “Our party will lower the fines for speeding, our party will give free sanitary towels, our party will increase punishment for rape or domestic violence, our party will increase pensions without indexing them to CPI”. Nor are we interested in statements so vague that they are useless, like “Our party believes in values”. We call for you to take position first on the big issues that ensure women’s emancipation from patriarchy – like the eleven issues we have listed. Then, under these headings, there can, in turn, be lists of items that follow logically from your party’s philosophical stand against the social inequality that patriarchy continues to promote.

Yours sincerely,

for the MLF


1. The Land Question and Women

Given that land is the basis for agriculture, industry, job-creation, production, food security and housing for all, it is something that cannot be controlled privately in the interests of personal profit, and given that until recently, it was indeed rightfully illegal for sugar estate bosses to use their land as real estate, whether to parcel it, to sell it off in bits, to build villas on it, and given that it was rightfully illegal for non-Mauritians to buy land in the country,

Given that the World Bank study recently published has shown that the sugar cane industry has no future and is swallowing up public funds,

Given that the pandemic has shown the dangers of being isolated from the rest of the world if, for any reason, shipping and flights have to be interrupted,

Given that women traditionally care for the land and its produce, and were the motor of the agricultural revolution,

that your Party undertakes in its program

– to ensure that agricultural land is not sold off as real estate,

– to ensure that non-viable sugar and cane production is gradually phased out, and replaced by large scale food production, by which we mean production of edible oil, and all kinds of food, for export and for use in Mauritius.

– to ensure that the land of the country is used in order to create employment for women and for all, to ensure food security, a women’s issue, and to ensure land for housing – while preserving forest spaces and their species.

2. Food Security and Food Sovereignty – A Women’s Issue

Given that women have historically been the main food providers and food producers,

Given that revolutions such as the Paris Commune of 1871 and the Russian revolution of 1917 have famously been triggered by women-led revolts demanding “bread” for survival, as well as “food” and “peace”.

Given that the Coronavirus crisis has exposed the sorry lack of food security and food sovereignty particularly on the island of Mauritius because of an economy that relies on production of unviable sugar and cane production meaning that basic food that we need to survive needs to be imported ;

Given the continued vertiginous Rupee depreciation resulting in food price rises ;

Given that on the island of Mauritius, thousands of jobs for women have been destroyed in the cane industry without employment being created in food production on a large-scale to replace and create new sustainable jobs for women ;

Given that on the Island of Rodrigues, and in the countryside of the Island of Mauritius, there is a wealth of knowledge and experience in agriculture and food preservation that can be used, together with scientific knowledge, to forge a new food production industry on a large-scale ;

Given that vast expanses of the 2.6 million square kilometres of ocean territory of the Republic of Mauritius, including around the Chagos Archipelago, are not being used to develop a sustainable Mauritian fishing industry,

That your party

 undertakes to recognise that it is the State’s responsibility to ensure food security and food sovereignty by

 extending price control to all basic foodstuff that keeps people healthy ;

 ensuring that wages and pensions are indexed to the Consumer Price Index ;

 ensuring that land is progressively freed from sugar and cane production on the one hand, and land speculation on the other to be used for food production ;

 channelling subsidies, tax breaks and facilities to food production – based on traditional knowledge and science – instead of promoting sugar cane and real estate sectors.

3. Housing for every woman ! Prevent Domestic Violence !

Given that :

 women suffer domestic violence in part because we have nowhere to go if we need to leave a violent partner, and given that violent partners know this, and that this situation was aggravated and thus highlighted during the two lockdowns ;

 in the past, the Central Housing Authority rented affordable “lakaz vev” to single mothers until the agency was closed down in 1992, after which women have suffered untold misery from the lack of housing as a right,

 women suffer from having to live in “lakaz zeritye” where the house is in the name of a deceased forbearer, who has left the house to any number of grown-up children, often now with children or even grandchildren of their own, cannot afford to move out, or refuse to move out lest they lose “their inheritance”, and that this housing problem engenders endemic domestic violence, and a significant number of brutal injuries and murders every year,

 hundreds of women still live in toxic asbestos housing that the State sold to them or their forbearer :

 sugar estate land, Mauritius’ main agricultural land, is being sold off to millionaires for luxury villas and gated-housing complexes often around golf courses for rich men to play on, and that this ruination of the land benefits from immense Government subsidies,

 that the State has recently announced a new survey on domestic violence but that the State has never published the Thea Mendelsohn report on Domestic Violence on which the Domestic Violence Act was originally based and which equally contained key recommendations for other institutional changes so that women are in a better position to move out of the domestic violence cycle ;that therefore your Party

– undertakes to recognise that it is the State’s responsibility for all single women as well as all families to be assured housing they can afford, including, importantly, a rental option, and including all those living in asbestos housing and that you will ensure a transition from the present system to one more like the ex-CHA, using land wasted on real estate speculation for housing and social amenities for all ;

 undertakes to prevent domestic violence by formally recognising that

 while shelters for battered women are necessary, without providing affordable permanent housing for women, they will not address the need for women to get peaceful homes to live in for the long-term ;

 that it is important to release the Thea Mendelsohn Report, so we can get to know what is in it, and then debate its contents.

4. Employment Assured for Every Woman

Given that, in order to be independent and to be able to pay for housing, food and other necessities, and in order to be in a better position to resist and ultimately, move out of the domestic violence cycle, women need jobs that are permanent and pay that is enough to live on,

Given that the country’s agricultural land must be used for creating a big industry for preserving and processing food,

Given that the Covid pandemic has shown us that many jobs, like those in SMEs and in tourism, are fragile,

Given that it is vital to decrease dependence on fossil fuels that pollute the earth, waters and air so much that they now threaten species collapse and climate change,

Given that the most recent UN IPCC Report warns of the need for immediate action,

that your Party thus

– agrees that it is the State’s responsibility for all women (and all men too) to have permanent jobs, or if not, a guaranteed Social Security income as of right and not with patronizing social contracts or means tests,

– agrees that the land of the country be used for job creation,

– accepts that the State must be responsible, in the final analysis, for job creation in production,

– will ensure that food production includes value added food preserving and processing for export so there are jobs for women in research, factories, marketing and transportation, and so that foreign exchange is ensured,

– that work from home, that has now post-epidemic, itself become “endemic” be regulated, with a view in the long term to being outlawed.

 agrees to job creation in genuinely renewable energy on a large scale,

 agrees to create government jobs in restoration of eco-systems – in forest areas, in wetlands and also lagoon rehabilitation.

5. Peace, a Women’s Cause - For the Abolition of Foreign Military Bases !

Given that women, in daily life throughout history, have been and still are, responsible for keeping the peace without recourse to repression,

Given that the ICJ and ITLOS have statuted that Chagos must be de-colonized, and that the Pelindaba Treaty outlaws nuclear arms in Africa, and Diego Garcia is in Chagos, Chagos is now clearly part of Mauritius, and Mauritius is in Africa,

and welcoming the recent scientific visit to the Chagos,

and given that the UN calls for an end to Israeli colonization of Palestine, as it does for an end to the colonization of Chagos,

Given that the USA and its allies, while withdrawing in disgrace from Afghanistan, are continuing preparing for war via their over 700 military bases world-wide, in particular encircling Russia and China,

that your Party, inter alia,

– calls for a date at which the USA-UK military base on Diego Garcia be closed down and cleaned up,

– calls on Israel and the USA to stop the occupation of Palestine.

– calls on the USA and its allies to back off from surrounding and “containing” other countries, while expanding its military hold on the world, and for the abolition of all foreign military bases.

6. No to Repression – it only Brings more Problems for Women

Given that

 problems women suffer are often aggravated by State repression,

that your Party

– undertakes to decriminalize abortion i.e. no woman ever in future be charged for undergoing an abortion,

– undertakes that Social Security will pay child support and never again resort to forcing men to look after their children by locking them up, as this provokes more male violence,

– promises not to increase prison sentences for rape, as this, inter alia, causes rapists to murder the only witness i.e. the victim ; it is not longer prison terms that will prevent rape.,

– undertakes to decriminalize homosexuality between consenting men of age, and recognize marriage between consenting adults,

– undertakes to set up a Commission of Enquiry into the death of Kaya and others found dead in custody, as a move to stop police violence , to recognise the uprising that followed Kaya’s death as being a popular revolt against police violence and to address the root causes of this revolt ;

— decriminalize recreational drugs, medicinal drugs, and treat drug-dependence as a health issue.

7. Women’s Health, People’s Health and Public Health

Given that health care is important and that is often, in practice, the woman’s responsibility,

Given that many aspects of women’s health are neglected in a male-dominated society,

Given that the Covid pandemic has shown up the importance of public health and the systemic under-funding of services like contact-tracing, health education including explaining to people how vaccines work when a whole people understands them and adopts them and that it is not merely a matter of “individual” freedom,

Given that the Covid pandemic has also shown us the importance of a free and universal health care service,

that your Party will -

– assure best practices as of right in hospitals and dispensaries, in respect to :

 contraception services, with staff trained to be sensitive to young girls being sexually active.

 better maternity health services

 abortion services in hospitals.

 best practices for diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer and uterine cancer, and for vaccination against cervical cancer.

 assure that everyone knows that, after rape and sexual assault, victims can go direct to the five main hospitals on Mauritius Island and one in Rodrigues, and do not need to go to the police station anymore ;

 ensure that public health is funded and developed, as the main means of preventing and controlling the spread of infectious diseases,

 ensure health care remains universal, free and accessible and that as the Coronavirus crisis has taught us all, that there is a need for continued recruitment and training of hospital staff at all levels so that the public health and healthcare system works efficiently and that hospital staff are not overworked so they can provide high-level health care services.

 that patents on medicines, including on vaccines (like Covid vaccines) be waived, so that all countries can produce them.

8. On Education for Freedom instead of Education by Repression ! More Social Space for our Children

Given that

 violence in children is not their fault, and not necessarily the fault of their parents or teachers, but is a societal phenomenon that needs to be addressed at root cause,

 that during the lockdowns, children have paid a high price, and we can expect more violence after their having to be kept in for health reasons,

– that children suffer when parents are without stable employment and income,

– that children suffer when their parents do not have stable, good housing, or when they live in toxic asbestos housing,

— that suppression of the mother tongue in schools by the State, in turn, causes a certain suppression of the mother tongue by parents, and that this suppression is known to harm children,

– that with the development of the Metro, there have not been concomitant sidewalks and bicycle lanes necessary, and not enough park-and-ride facilities, and that in general streets – where children used to play freely – have been invaded by heavy traffic,

– that technology has outstripped our and our children’s understandings of its uses and dangers,

— and that the inventors and propagators of cell phone and other on-line technology for children, often prevent their own children from using such devices until they are 18 years old precisely because they know the dangers for their cognitive development and emotional well-being,

your Party thus

– recognizes that, in this context, all parents need a regular income and reasonable housing they can afford so that children can develop, and that the State must ensure this employment and housing as part of its care for children,

— undertakes to organize crèches at a local level supported by Government, so that women can work and participate in society

– undertakes to begin the process of ensuring that all children have a safe pathway to walk to school by themselves i.e. wide enough sidewalks on all roads, with mothers/teachers to assist at crossings, so that children are free,

– undertakes to ensure that subjects are taught in the mother-tongue, so children understand them and learn to think about the subject naturally instead of learning off-by-heart, and so as to ensure mother-tongue based multi-lingual education, and will organize consciousness-raising on this amongst parents,

– will ensure that children have grounds at every street corner to play on,

 undertakes to support a system of voluntary State-run boarding schools and/or State-run voluntary service for teens for a few months a year, at which teens are taught life-skills and learn to be independent of their respective families in preparation for adulthood, and that this be seen as a support system for mothers and grand-mothers who are often burdened by this responsibility ;

– will introduce proper sex education in schools, so that children can both protect themselves from predators and prepare for a healthy sex life later on in life,

– undertakes to ensure that education includes subjects that help children to think, to analyse and to develop critical and creative capacities freely – subjects like evolutionary biology and proper analysis of society in terms of history of the different classes and of the history of those societal values that care for all people and our environment – and that after school hours, there will be sports, games, chess, bridge, art, theatre, music, exercises, meditation, dance groups, under supervision in all school premises, during which socialization also takes place,

– undertakes to help children, teachers and parents understand and use machines, technology and the internet in the interests of society, and not be used and abused by these technologies.

9. On Living with a Disability : Women, Children and Men

Given that many women live with disabilities, and/or are responsible for the care of those in their household who live with disabilities,

that your Party

– will ensure full rights to everyone – to work, to housing, to food security, and to access to transport and to all public facilities

— organize for both formal schooling as well as sports and other activities for children with disabilities,

— technical training for individual development and for job opportunities.

10. Women are not Objects to be Gawked at, or Objects to be Abused

Given the stereotyping of women, and also of men,

Given the on-going harassment of women at work, in the streets, within family circles and circles of friends, even in trade unions and associations,

Giving the continued blaming of women for seeking divorce, blaming of women who are victims of violence or harassment for their suffering, and even blaming women who are victims of powerful men at work,

Given the progress made by the world-wide #MeToo movement

that your Party

– will do all in its power to treat men and women equally, within your Party and in all policies you adopt,

– will expose and sanction men in your Party or Alliance when they act as predators, bullies or sexual blackmailers, by means such as denunciation, suspension and expulsion,

– will call for a Code of Ethics whereby, as in many other countries, any employer or employee of a firm must make a full declaration of any romantic or love liaison with someone who is his or her junior at work or in any other hierarchical structure.

11. On Technology — for the General Good


that most cyber-executives, who, as we mentioned above, know the dangers, refuse to give their own children the electronic gadgets that the profit-making Companies they work for sell to us all, and that many even send their children to expensive schools where computers and devices are banned,

and that the social media Companies have created dangers they could and should have predicted, in order to make more money from more “clicks” thus more advertisements, and from selling both our “attention span” and data about us,

that your Party

– undertakes to encourage cyber freedom in the context of an internet free from the profit motive, where all profit-making is banned, as it was originally when the internet was first begun,

– and in the meantime that those who own and run social media networks are liable as publishers and not treated just like a postal service without responsibility for the content on their networks.

February 2022