The rate of crime and violence has reached alarming proportions in Mauritius. Our media is replete with reports about murders, rapes, thefts, violence, almost on a daily basis. News on Sunday met Veediasha Bekaroo, a young psychologist who has been practicing her profession since two years now, to learn more about the causes and solutions of these crimes in our country.
Being a psychologist, Veediasha Bekaroo has had all types of patients like amputees, people suffering from depression, anxiety, and chronic stress, among a host of others. One common factor that she has observed among the patients is that they are reluctant to talk freely about their mental condition or they tend to suppress all their feelings, which at times may trigger criminal thoughts, which could eventually lead to committing crimes. When asked, they usually replied: “No one understands my point of view or situation and that’s why it’s better that I don’t voice out my feelings.” The young psychologist points out that people should understand that mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It is a medical condition just like heart diseases or diabetes, which can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, social status, and ethnicity.
“Discrimination towards people with mental affliction still exists, which push them to suffer in silence, reluctant to seek medical help,” she declares. It is high time to break all these stigmas related to mental health problems. That’s one of the reasons why Veediasha Bekaroo has started conducting mental health awareness campaigns in early July 2018 across most NGOs and Social Welfare Centre in different communities. She wants to sensitise people about this condition and how to detect the early warning signs.
According to Veediasha, we are now living in a modern world that is evolving faster than usual, and we should not stay behind in the context of mental health problems. If the right treatment is given as from the early stages, the patients can recover or they can manage and learn to live independently. “Families, if given the right strategies to cope with a mentally afflicted person in their midst, can provide some support, which in turn will boost the morale of the patient,” she declares.
How do some people decide to commit a crime? Do they think about the benefits and the risks? Why do some people commit crimes regardless of the consequences? Why do others never commit a crime in spite of their desperate circumstances? These are questions which researchers start asking when they observe the increasing rate of crime.
As we can see, the rate of criminality is rising at a faster pace. UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime) reported a global average intentional homicide rate of 6.2 per 100,000 populations in 2012. In Mauritius, according to Crime, Justice and Security statistics, offences reported to the police, exclusive of contraventions, increased by around 4% from 45,801 in 2016 to 47,792 in 2017, mainly due to rises in drug offences (+10%) and property offences (+8%). Out of the 2,933 adult convicts admitted to prison in 2017, some 69% were re-offenders who had been imprisoned in the past, regardless of any observation period. “In Mauritius, the reasons for committing a crime include greed, anger, jealousy, revenge or even pride. Some people decide to commit a crime and carefully plan everything in advance to increase gain and decrease risk,” indicates Veediasha. In her opinion, these people are making choices about their behaviour, some even consider a life of crime better than having a regular job, believing that crime brings in greater rewards, admiration and excitement, until they are caught. Others get an adrenaline rush when carefully carrying out a dangerous crime whilst others commit crimes on impulse, out of fear or anger.
The psychologist explains that the desire for material gain (money or expensive belongings) leads to property crimes such as robberies, white collar crimes or auto thefts. The desire for control, revenge or power leads to violent crimes such as murder, assaults and rapes. These violent crimes usually occur on impulse or the spur of the moment when emotions run high. Property crimes are usually planned in advance.
Violence against women and risk factors
Recently in Mauritius, we have been witnessing many cases of domestic violence nearly every week in different communities. According to World Health Organization (WHO), about 1 in 3 (35%) women worldwide has experienced either physical or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence in their lifetime. Factors associated with intimate partner and sexual violence occurs at individual, family, community and wider society levels.
Risk factors for both intimate partner and sexual violence include:
- Lower levels of education
- Witnessing family violence
- Harmful use of alcohol
- Having multiple partners or suspected by their partners of infidelity, among others.
The solutions against violence
Veediasha thinks that women and girls must be encouraged and empowered to voice out their grievances whenever they are victims of sexual or domestic violence. Women must know their worth and value and that they don’t deserve to be abused in their lives. Social stigma related to domestic violence must be reduced and prevented. Awareness campaigns must be conducted across our country to change people’s attitudes towards domestic violence and to give women and girls effective strategies on how to protect themselves in such situations.
8 traits that a criminal possesses
- Anti-social values: It includes criminal rationalization. Individuals possessing this trait often blame others for their negative behavior and do not show any remorse.
- Criminal peers: Individuals with this trait often have peers that are associated with criminal activities. Most are often involved with substance abuse including drugs or alcohol. Peer influence often persuades the individual to engage in criminal behavior.
- Anti-social personality: These traits include atypical behavior conducted prior to the age of fifteen and can include running away, fighting, possessing weapons, lying, stealing, hurting animals or damaging property.
- Dysfunctional family: One of the common traits includes lack of family support both on emotional and financial levels. The individual’s family lacks the ability to problem solving and to communicate effectively. Family members often don’t possess the capability to express emotions in an appropriate manner. More often, the family members are also involved with criminal activities.
- Low self-control: This involves one’s aptitude to control temperament and impulsivity. People that carry this trait often do things that they didn’t plan and will fail to think before acting.
- Substance abuse: The use of drugs or alcohol that significantly affect one’s ability to engage in a successful and productive lifestyle.