Po­lice trained in re­spond­ing to gen­der­based vi­o­lence

The Myanmar Times - - News - THU THU AUNG thuthuaung@mm­times.com

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.

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