August 05, 2021

Mauritius: Parliament Speaker Skin-Shames MP

The speaker of parliament in Mauritius has come under fire after he shamed an MP for his skin disorder.

During a parliamentary session on Tuesday, 3 August, speaker Sooroojdev Phokeer and Rajesh Bhagwan were engaged in a heated exchange, during which the latter allegedly criticised the former for his poor handling of past sessions.

In response, Phokeer shouted “Look at your face!” at Bhagwan 11 times in a row.

The MP suffers from vitiligo, a disorder that causes the skin to lose its pigment cells, resulting in pale blotches.

Phokeer’s comments were caught on footage, which prompted a wave of criticism online, including a tweet from Vitiligo Support UK: “Disgraceful! … we look at our faces every day with pride, respect & love [sic] … Vitiligo is not a definition of our character.”

Speaking to a local media outlet afterwards, Bhagwan condemned the speaker’s attack: “It is shameful on the part of a poor individual who has no credibility and morality, and who has dared to comment on a person’s health.”

His colleagues have apparently sent a letter of complaint regarding Phokeer’s “reprehensible behaviour” to President Pritvirajsing Roopun, as well as to the National Human Rights Commission. They have yet to respond to it.

Image Credit: Source