Violence against Women and Children

In the Southern African region, violence against women is rife. The lack of services for survivors and of effective responses by law enforcement officers makes this issue a human security problem. UNODC has developed the 'Handbook on Effective Police Responses to Violence against Women' to furnish law enforcement officers with information that will enable them to identify key elements in defining violence against women. The Handbook has proved essential in boosting the proportion of cases of violence against women that are reported to the authorities.

Across the region

In light of the success the Handbook has enjoyed in other regions of the world, UNODC Southern Africa has launched a project aimed at tailoring its contents to the needs of the region. To provide further assistance, the regional office is also carrying out training and capacity-building initiatives in six countries of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) in the framework of a project that was initiated in March 2008 and is being implemented in partnership with SADC and the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organisation.

The mandate for the project comes from Economic and Social Council resolution 2006/29, entitled 'Crime prevention and criminal justice responses to violence against women and girls', in which the Council recognized the importance of targeting the special needs of women and girls in the criminal justice system. That resolution, coupled with several General Assembly resolutions, provides the legal basis for UNODC to assist in countering violence against women and providing help to victims.

One-stop centres

The project also builds on work already done by UNODC Southern Africa, such as the establishment of three one-stop centres, one in each of the provinces of Mpumalanga, the Eastern Cape and the Northern Cape, all of which have been handed over to the South African Government. Each centre has provided a range of services (legal, counselling, medical) to the survivors of violence (specifically women and children) and rehabilitation services, including counselling and support groups for men who have been or who are seen to be potential perpetrators of violence in order to break the cycle of domestic violence. UNODC Southern Africa is running additional one-stop centres in Mitchell's Plain (Western Cape), Vryburg (North West), and Sunnyside (Gauteng).