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Key findings
  • While most Mauritians say they did not suffer discrimination or harassment during the previous year, substantial proportions of the population did on the basis of their ethnicity (9%), gender (16%), and religion (17%).
  • Afro-Mauritians (31%) and Muslims (22%) are more likely than average to say they experienced discrimination or harassment based on their ethnicity during the previous 12 months.
  • Similarly, while two-thirds (66%) of Mauritians say their ethnic group is “never” treated unfairly by the government, more than four in 10 Afro-Mauritians (47%) and Muslims (42%) say this happens “sometimes,” “often,” or “always.”
  • Women are more likely than men to suffer gender discrimination or harassment (11% vs. 7%), and religious discrimination or harassment is more likely to affect Christians and Muslims than Hindus.
  • More than nine out of 10 Mauritians express tolerant attitudes toward people of a different ethnicity (94%) or religion (94%), and smaller majorities do the same with regard to immigrants/foreign workers (67%) and people in same-sex relationships (56%). Tolerance for homosexuals increased by 7 percentage points since the 2014 survey, placing Mauritius at the top among 21 African countries surveyed in 2016/2017.

Since its independence in 1968, Mauritius has taken pride in promoting its development based on democracy, good governance, human rights and freedoms, and the rule of law. Its Constitution affirms that all Mauritians should benefit from the right to equal protection and assistance of the law against any form of discrimination.

The country has shown its commitment to the promotion and protection of human rights by being a party to all major international human-rights instruments, including conventions and optional protocols on the rights of women, people with disabilities, and children, including children involved in armed conflict, trafficking, prostitution, and pornography (Varma, 2013). The government’s Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), established in 2012, handled more than 1,000 discrimination complaints between 2012 and 2014, most related to ethnic origin and political opinion (Equal Opportunities Commission, 2014).

On International Women’s Day 2018, Prime Minister Pravind Jugnauth praised progress on women’s empowerment in the public sector but highlighted the need for the private sector to be more sensitive to gender equality, adopt a more proactive approach, and eliminate barriers and discrimination against women (Republic of Mauritius, 2018).

According to the latest Afrobarometer survey, most Mauritians do not experience ethnic, religious, or gender discrimination and harassment, but some still do – especially AfroMauritians, Muslims, and women.

Most Mauritians express tolerance for people of a different ethnicity, religion, or nationality. A majority – less strong but growing – also express tolerance for people of a different sexual orientation, adding popular strength to recent calls by government and religious officials to respect the rights of members of the LGBT community to conduct legally authorized marches (France24, 2018).

Thomas Isbell

Post-doctoral research fellow and research assistant at Afrobarometer

Sadhiska Bhoojedhur

Sadhiska Bhoojedhur is a senior data analyst for Island Living, Mauritius.