Africa: Security Agencies Tackle Gender Violence

African security organs have launched a continental campaign to end violence against women and girls. Supported by the United Nations (UN), the campaign seeks to boost the role of the African security personnel including the army, police and prison guards in the fight against all forms of violence, including sexual violence and physical attacks, against women and girls.

Law enforcement officers from 34 African countries recently concluded a five-day training course on the response to end violence against women and girls which was held at the Rwanda National Police headquarters in Kigali from July 8 to 12.

The training dubbed ‘Command Post Exercise-Africa UNiTE’ 2013, sought to equip the officers with both theoretical and practical knowledge on how to handle cases of violence against women and girls as the main victims of gender based violence.

The training, which was built on Rwanda’s vast experience in handling cases of gender based violence, aimed at providing gender sensitive training to law enforcement personnel, and share best practices.

It was also touched on the development of Standard Operating Practices (SOPs) in ending violence against women and girls and helped to enhance awareness of the different dimensions of violence against women and girls in different environments.

Rwanda hosted the event following the visit of the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon– an ardent campaigner to end violence against women and girls, in May this year.

While in Kigali, Ban Ki-moon laid a foundation stone at the site where Africa’s Security Organs Center for Coordination and Action to end Violence Against Women and Girls (AFSOCCA-VAWG) formerly Kigali International Conference Declaration (KICD) to end violence against women and girls will be constructed at the Rwanda National Police Headquarters.

The center which will coordinate and monitor implementation of the Kigali declaration to end violence against women and girls came as a response to the call for action by Ban Ki-moon who launched the global campaign to end violence against women and girls in 2008.

The same campaign triggered the formation of a 14-point Kigali Declaration which was made at the end of the high-level conference on the role of security organs in ending violence against women and girls held in Kigali in 2010.

“Security issue”

Rwandan president Paul Kagame who flagged off the “Command Post Exercise” said that women and girls continue to be victims of violence most of which is gender-based.

“It is good to see that Africa’s security organs are at the frontline of this battle for indeed it is also a security issue of great concern that needs to be confronted seriously and in a coordinated manner,” Kagame said.

Reacting on statistics of violence against women, Kagame said, “it is simply unacceptable that one in every three women around the world has been beaten, sexually assaulted, or abused in another form and that four women are murdered each day worldwide by a male partner.”

He said efforts on all fronts including governments, legislature and advocacy groups needed to be intensified to address and eradicate violence against women and girls. The assistant UN Secretary General in charge of Safety and Security, Mbaraga Gasarabwe, noted that violence against women and girls is a threat to democracy, peace and security as well as an obstacle to sustainable development.

“Violence against women and girls constitutes the most civil expression of gender based discrimination… ..and [it is] an appalling of human rights violation,” Gasarabwe said.

Men and boys are abused too:

Gasarwabwe said men and boys were also subjected to abuse and there was an increasing rate of suicide among them. She said the UN is launching a campaign on violence against men and boys to help curb the shameful acts.

“When we talk about violence against women and girls, we can’t forget that there are men and boys who are abused. In African culture and other cultures, a man who is abused is ashamed not only for the family but also for the society and we have actually observed that there is a high rate of suicide for they don’t want to live anymore,” Gasarabwe said.

Rwanda hailed:

Rwanda’s efforts to combat gender based violence were commended. Rwanda has not only taken the lead in fighting gender inequalities but also protecting women from ruthless and unnecessary abuse of any nature.

In Rwanda, Kagame said, “ending violence against women and girls is not only a moral duty and a legal obligation but also a definition of who we are as a nation.”

Security forces including police and army have taken up the role of ensuring that gender based violence is uprooted and those who are subjected to it get quick care. The Inspector General of Police Emmanuel Gasana says that gender based violence is a scourge which needs to be ended “very soon”.

Police and army have gender desks which respond to the gender based violence. Police also has a special hospital which provides care and treatment to the victims of gender based violence and it also helps in providing proof of crime so that the perpetrators can be pinned in courts.

The various interventions in combating gender based crimes have resulted into reduction of these crimes. In 2012 alone, cases of gender based violence in Rwanda reduced by 3.9% to 3,444 from 3,585 cases in 2011.

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