Myanmar strengthens responses to address gender based violence

Nay Pyi Taw (Myanmar), 22 March 2017
- Representatives from the Myanmar Police Force (MPF) and UNODC convened for a workshop in Nay Pyi Taw to address necessary areas of reform in the MPF's response to gender based violence - a core tenet of which is the development of Standard Operating Procedures to make responses addressing Gender Based Violence (GBV) more effective.

The workshop marked an important step forward in the Government of Myanmar and the MPF's commitment to tackling the serious issue of GBV in Myanmar, and produced a firm foundation from which to move forward so that UNODC, working together with UNFPA and the MPF, can support the police in Myanmar to develop effective and efficient response guidelines for cases of GBV. Concluding with the commitment to further work on a strategy in the near future, the workshop was met with great optimism from all participants, and represented a decisive first step towards combating GBV in Myanmar.

"Violence against women is one of the most widespread violations of human rights," stated UNODC Myanmar's Country Manager, Mr. Troels Vester. 'UNODC congratulates the MPF for committing to do something about this issue, and thanks the police for taking it seriously."

The MPF Chief of Staff expressed in his opening remarks the MPF's commitment to reform their policies in line with democratic standards, and Mr. Vester recognised that participating in the workshop was the 'first step' towards doing this.

UNODC's National Workshop was designed to introduce the MPF to various response and investigative techniques for responding to cases of GBV. In collaboration with the UNFPA under the joint Women and Girls First Initiative, UNODC will provide support to the MPF to develop guidelines and standard operating procedures for such situations, and eventually draft a standardised response guide for all members of the MPF.

Violence against women is an issue of large proportions in Myanmar, which requires redress from both the police and government. There is strong evidence to suggest that GBV is a serious problem, though cases are underreported as victims/survivors do not envision justice through the formal justice system.

As part of UNODC Country Programme for Myanmar 2014-2017, in 2017 UNODC will be supporting the MPF in numerous ways, including development of standard operating procedures, the upgrading of entry requirements to promote greater entry of women officers into the MPF, establishing a core training group to train the police to respond to GBV, including responding to GBV into the training curricula for police recruits, the training of frontline officers in conflict-affected regions, and a training of trainers programme to provide the MPF with the tools to educate the police to tackle Myanmar's persistent GBV issues.

The workshop acknowledged that in order to prepare an effective strategy to counter GBV, the shortcomings of the current system must be identified. Selected members of the MPF spent a constructive afternoon in the workshop brainstorming the key issues faced in the current response system. Main issues highlighted were a lack of resources, language barriers in rural areas between police officers and members of ethnic groups, difficulties in transport leading to underreporting, a lack of women in police stations, and significant delays in the investigative and justice processes leading to lack of confidence in the system.

Support to the MPF - First National Workshop on Responses to GBV gathered together representatives from the MPF from all over Myanmar, many of whom were female officers, as well as representatives from UNODC's Myanmar country office, UNFPA Myanmar, and UNICEF.

Click here to learn more about UNODC's Country Programme in Myanmar.