Police trained in responding to genderbased violence
POLICE officers must learn to recognise gender-based violence as the first step in dealing with it, international trainers say. The 50 officers, male and female, who attended the training seminar in Lashio, Shan State, on September 22 and 23 heard that it was time for a change of attitude, as well as behaviour.
Lionel Laforgue, a gender-based violence specialist with the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), which organised the seminar, said, “It’s essential that police officers understand that violence against women is both unacceptable and illegal.”
Gender-based violence involves both emotional physical abuse, and can affect the whole family, not just the victim. Participants were told of the difference between gender and sex, and the definition of genderbased violence and discussed how to prevent it, said U Thein Kyi, a CEC member of the Myanmar AntiNarcotics Association and a former director general of police involved in the training.
“Even though I’m familiar with gender-based violence cases, I’ve never thought of the consequences that survivors face,” one male police officer said.
Similar seminars for the police have also been held in Pyin Oo Lwin, Myitkyina and Sittwe.
A female officer, Ma Myint Myint Aye, who took part in the seminar in Myitkyina, Kachin State, said, “We arrested a suspected drug dealer. I went along because the suspect was a woman. During the search, we seized some illegal stimulant tablets. I also discovered some scars on her body. The suspect said her husband, also a drug addict, beat her whenever he needed drugs. I sympathised with this woman and helped her during the interrogation.”
The workshops focus on the law as well as on gender equality and the social norms that stand in the way of equality.
Of the 50 officers who attended the Lashio seminar, 12 were female. At the Myitkyina seminar, there were five women among the 52 participants.
“Women used to bear the problem of the family because of cultural norms and traditions. Genderbased violence cannot be solved by suffering in silence. It needs to be addressed through proactive measures,” said U Thein Kyi from the Anti-Narcotics Association.
Cultural norms and traditions need to be challenged so that survivors feel safe to report episodes of genderbased violence, and a special legal justice system and supporting procedures such as confidential rooms are required, say field workers.
About 1000 trainee officers have already received gender-based violence awareness training at police academy, and the subject will be added to the curriculum, said U Thein Kyi.
Building on the National Strategic Plan for the Advancement of Women 2013-2022, the UNFPA said it would increase the access of women and girls to a comprehensive, rights-based and integrated package of gender-based services.