Live News

[Blog] In the context of the International Women's Day: The problem of gender inequality

There is no doubt that the root cause of gender inequality is the pervasive ideology of patriarchy and the concatenative system of social relationships which establish the predominance of men over women. This process starts right from the moment a child is born. A male child becomes a matter of pride for the family. Its birth is celebrated as a boon and a blessing, as it implies the continuation of the lineage and the perpetuation of the group's values and traditions. All this gives rise to a differential treatment depending on whether the baby is a boy or a girl. In the case of the former, the reaction of the medical personnel itself is different and the mother herself, having internalized the inordinate importance given by society to the birth of a male child, exudes a sense of pride.


As pointed out by Simone de Beauvoir in her classic book, The Second Sex, the mother treats the infantile male organ of the child “with remarkable complacency” and instils “pride in his manhood.” As a result, the male child is “persuaded that much is demanded of boys because they are superior….”.

The differential treatment continues in the process of socialization. Girls are taught to adopt patterns of behaviour and attitudes which are socially defined as feminine and boys are made to learn to behave in ways that are socially defined as masculine, which is often akin to aggressiveness, overbearingness, hiding of emotions and denial of signs of weaknesses. To paraphrase Simone de  

Beauvoir, we can say, “one is not born with toxic masculinity; one acquires toxic masculinity”.

Any deviance from the norms is sanctioned by informal agencies of social control. Childhood games, too,  play a role in shaping differential identity. In the past, in Mauritius, girls used to play soft games like "zouzou menaz", "la marelle" or "kook kasiet" whereas boys turned to competitive games of marbles, "boule kaskot", football, etc. With information technology, however, there is now a levelling in terms of games, but it is not necessarily so as far as household chores are concerned. It is usually the girls who are called to help with domestic tasks, while boys are free to roam around and hobnob with friends. Not long ago, they used to be assigned the roles of chaperones to sisters, thus spying on the latter's circle of relationships.

This male supremacism is reinforced by traditional beliefs and values which are imparted since childhood, and many of them legitimize the subordinate role of women. According to certain beliefs, “a woman must be always obedient to her husband, however undeserving of respect” (U.S Jha & P. Pujari, 1998). The Joganah brothers of former Group Latanier express it moanfully in "Krapo Kriyer" as follows : "mo mama li esklav papa...”. As Kate Millet puts it “patriarchy has God on its side”. This machoist ideology, unfortunately, permeates society at all levels. 

It is not a surprise that there is a spillover in different spheres (education, work, politics, social life, etc.) That ideology is so entrenched that in periods of military conflicts, rape of women becomes a weapon of war. They fall prey to male chauvinism and aggressiveness.

However, it is the private sphere which bears mostly the brunt of patriarchy. This is due to the power inequalities between men and women. As a result, this has led to what sociologist Dworkin has called "the sexual colonization of women's bodies” that makes men think that it is their “natural right to have physical possession of women…”. It is not a surprise,  therefore, that sometimes a simple request to the men to use condoms or inability or unwillingness to have sex on particular occasions or refusal to give in to unorthodox or uncomfortable practices results quite often in blows, wounds and sexual violence. This can take the form of marital rape which, unfortunately,  has not yet been criminalised in Mauritius just as no amendments have been brought to the legislation which provides for lenient punishment in cases of crimes of passion. One can also mention here the discriminatory indictment of sex workers for so-called male solicitation, when in reality the solicitation is induced by male demand.

Finally,  the very intimate act itself is male-dominated as pointed out by Catherine MacKinnon: “Sexual intercourse is imposed on women in a coercive and unequal way, creating a continuum of victimization where women have few positive sexual experiences.”

A transformational change is needed at the level of mindset as well as at societal and institutional levels. 

Azize Bankur


Notre service WhatsApp. Vous êtes témoins d`un événement d`actualité ou d`une scène insolite? Envoyez-nous vos photos ou vidéos sur le 5 259 82 00 !