UNODC train master trainers on effective police responses to Violence against Women in the Southern Africa Region


29 November 2010 - Gender-based violence is a worldwide problem, though the scourge is particularly difficult to eradicate in Africa, where an unhealthy mix of tradition, inequality and even ignorance conspires against women. In order to remember and raise awareness on the plight of the victims of this violence, the UN General Assembly designated 25 November the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. In the years since its formation, the international day has been a critical time for Governments, international organisations and NGOs to organise activities designed to raise public awareness of violence against women as well as to seek solutions to eradicate persistent discrimination against women.


In commemorating this day, and as part of its mandate to strengthen the rule of law through more accessible and effective criminal justice systems, UNODC is implementing a regional project aimed at developing effective law enforcement responses to violence against women in Southern Africa. This 3 year project financed by the Austrian Development Agency is being rolled-out with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Southern African Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation (SARPCCO) and has been developed around the new UNODC Handbook on Effective Police Responses to Violence against Women and its Training Curriculum . The project seeks to improve capacity of law enforcement and national criminal justice systems in Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe as well as in the rest of the SADC region, and will be one of the first UNODC projects to utilise the Handbook and its Training Curriculum.


Says Johan Kruger, UNODC Project Manager for regional projects on Trafficking in Persons and Violence against Women: "Although each of the SADC Member States has certain shortcomings specific to each country, there are a number of common challenges to effective policing of violence against women in the SADC region - the lack of comprehensive and specialised training being one of the most important".


The project held a Regional Workshop in Pretoria, South Africa, from 29 November to 4 December with the goal of pilot testing and contextualizing the Handbook and the Training Curriculum to the regional needs, as well as training 18 master trainers (law enforcement officials) from the selected six SADC countries.

During the first three days, the participants went through all of the various activities, case studies and best practices which are described in the Handbook and the Training Curriculum. In the next two days, the participants were given a specific topic and an opportunity to prepare a 20 minutes training session using different training techniques, in order to put theory into practice. Participants also discussed adult learning principles, different training techniques and training aids and group dynamics. On the last day of the workshop the participants developed a plan of action to implement the training program in their respective countries.


Ms. Mia Spolander, a criminal justice expert from UNODC Headquarters, who has been closely involved with the development of the UNODC training tools, said: "The Handbook and the training curriculum were very well received by the participants of the workshop. The feedback shows that there is a huge need for this type of training and capacity-building. The participants did a fantastic job by adding their individual expertise and experience into the global training material and turning it into material that is suitable for their country-specific training needs."


In the course of 2011, the project will move towards a national level, during which the master trainers together with UNODC will train national law enforcement officials in each of the six countries. UNODC will also be implementing awareness-raising programs on effective police responses to violence against women and children in each of the police training colleges and will be developing a practical pocket book for police officers to use when dealing with these crimes.