Why discriminate against the girls? 

Points to Ponder

By Lex

A First Point: Girls are far better than boys – so indicate exam results. Shame on the boys!

The trend continues. When the CPE results were out, I said that our girls are doing far better than our boys. Now that the School Certificate results are out, the trend is maintained. The girls have done far better than the boys. The results disclose that 82.17% of girls have got through successfully whereas the boys have lagged far behind their sisters. Only 73.27% of the boys have passed their School Certificate examination. Everybody knows that, for cultural and historical reasons, boys are given a preferential treatment over their sisters. This is a widely accepted custom and changing the system will take a long time. First of all, the cultural system must be reviewed. But this is not easy to do. Those who head the socio-cultural organisations are, most of them, very conservative in their attitude.

Besides, the attitude of mothers in the country should be taken into consideration to start with. Mothers look after the children of the family, and they usually have a soft spot for the boys as compared to the girls. Yet in spite of several constraints, girls are still doing better than boys in matters of education. Therefore, society must have another look at our culture and how we treat our girls and boys. To start with, boys and girls are children with the same rights, so why are they treated differently by the parents? All parents know that girls put in some extra effort in whatever they undertake and that is why they succeed in their examinations.

Besides the girls themselves seem to concur that their brothers be given a different and better treatment than themselves. This is so because their mothers have always instilled in their minds that boys are the ones who have to carry on the burden of the family later on. This might have been very true in the past when the rightful place of the woman was the kitchen. But this is not so anymore. Girls have proved again and again that that they are better than the boys in practically all spheres with the possible exception of physical games.

The days boys are allowed to and even asked to watch television while girls are busy in the kitchen helping the mother prepare the dinner and later on serve the boys and other menfolk before having their own dinner should come to an end. It is high time for such a change.

Or why not think of a reversal of the roles that have until now been ascribed to girls and boys? We shall then see how the boys will progress in the educational field. Maybe hard work in one field will lead to hard word in other fields as well. Can we get the collaboration of the mothers and also of society in general? I am not sure.

Maybe in the past there was some obscure reason to discriminate between the boys and the girls. Scholarships were reserved so many for the boys and so many for the girls. This should be done away with. Both the boys and the girls are our children, we should consider them only as our children. Let the best be given the scholarships whether they are boys or girls. If most of the scholarships go to the girls, what is the harm? 

Boycott of the PMSD

A Second Point: The Town Council of Beau Bassin-Rose Hill could not hold its first meeting for lack of quorum. The elected members on the Labour Party and of the MSM chose not to attend, and according to me, this was a deliberate boycott. In normal circumstances, this should not have happened. But exceptional circumstances demand exceptional measures. Hence the boycott.

What were those exceptional circumstances? Norbert Froget, the newly-elected Mayor, gave an interview to one of our papers in which he is alleged to have said that the PMSD is against the introduction of the death penalty and that if such a penalty is introduced, the PMSD will leave the government. The Labour Party and the MSM, the other two parties in the government coalition, are for the introduction of the death penalty for certain crimes.

Who has to decide whether we can have the death penalty on our Statute Books? The decision should rest with Members of Parliament. I do not think that the respective political parties will apply the whip. Every member will hopefully be allowed to vote according to his conscience. Will a majority approve such a bill or will those against the bill have a majority? Let us wait and see.

There are two or three matters to be considered before a decision is taken. I am sure that capital punishment will be applied in the case of very serious crimes and that the number of criminals who will be so sentenced will be very small indeed. And then there are the safeguards that already exist in our legal system. Killing somebody with premeditation makes a whole lot of difference in sentencing. Nobody has ever canvassed for applying the death penalty to an accused person who is guilty of having caused death by accident or when the accused did not have the intention to cause the death of his victim. There are many such safeguards and the barristers know about this.

You say that we do not have the right to take the life of any criminal, however heinous and cruel the offence he may have committed. Talk to the criminal and tell me if he had the right to take the life of an innocent person. I am not talking of “an eye for an eye”. We do not want to live among such criminals, and that is all.

Of course there are several methods to put the capital punishment into execution. You have the common hanging by the neck until death ensues. Then you have the firing squad wherein not all the members of the squad have live bullets, so that no member will know who has fired the shot that killed the criminal. And you have the lethal injection, whereby the criminal is, so to say, put to sleep for good.

The most humane method should be used when capital punishment will be applied. I do not think that the authorities are interested in having criminals suffer more than necessary. After all, the State is there to protect society at large and it has a duty to do so. I do not buy into this argument that capital punishment does not have any influence on crime in the country. Take the case of Singapore and compare it with what is happening in Trinidad and Tobago and in South Africa, and you judge for yourself.

To come back to the Town Council of Beau Bassin-Rose Hill: If the PMSD Mayor thinks that he will not take into consideration the views of the Labour Party and MSM councillors, then he is mistaken, especially on such a sensitive matter. The members who boycotted the session are all members of their respective parties and the leaderships of these parties have made it clear that they fully support the introduction of capital punishment.

The Mayor has belatedly said that he never said what was published in the newspaper. He should sort out the matter with that paper if he has some problem with it. Until it is sorted out, the PMSD should bear the brunt of the mayor’s declaration.

Right royal battle 

A Third Point: A right royal battle is in the offing. At the political level I mean, between the MSM and the MMM, or rather between Pravind Jugnauth and Paul Bérenger, the leaders of the respective parties over the building so far used as a medical clinic, the Medpoint.

From what I understand, government wanted to acquire a building to house a hospital meant exclusively for the treatment of the elderly. There was a public tender exercise and I think that three companies responded. The offers were examined and it was decided that the best offer was made by the Medpoint Clinic and therefore it was accepted by the government.

The matter was raised in the press and, quite naturally, it was taken over by the politicians in the opposition. Both the papers and the opposition have been saying that the private clinic had always belonged to the Jugnauth family, and they have mentioned Sir Anerood Jugnauth, though in bated breath and Pravind Jugnauth, the full fledged politician, being the leader of the MSM and what is more serious as they say, the Minister of Finance. So far as I can say, the Medpoint is a private company and the company owes the property. Of course you can go behind the veil of incorporation and the details as to the ownership of the shares of the company and the names of the directors thereof can be ascertained.

For me, the situation is clear. Even though the building and the land on which it stands may have belonged to the Jugnauth family, this does not mean that the State does not have the right to purchase it for a specific purpose if the price is right, the State gets value for money, no influence is exercised by the Jugnauth family in the transaction and all the procedures have been followed without in anyway giving any sort of preference to the owners of the Medpoint Clinic.

Pravind Jugnauth has said that Paul Bérenger will be the first opposition member to answer for the allegations he made against him. And maybe there will be others as well as some papers that will have to answer before our Courts. This is why I said that a right royal battle is in the offing. Let us wait and see.

I am told that the politicians in the opposition, to whichever party they may belong, and some journalists — especially those who do the bidding of the politicians, owe their existence as such to the fact that they get the proverbial bone to chew, whether there is some meat still found on the bone or not, it does not matter. What matters is the bone and they like chewing it!

* Published in print edition on 4 February 2011

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