Advancing GBV-Responsive Delivery of Justice for the Survivors of Gender-Based Violence

4 September 2023, Islamabad - A majority of Gender-based Violence (GBV) offences in Pakistan are underreported, and those that are reported frequently go unprosecuted or result in excessive acquittals. Failure to hold perpetrators of GBV accountable sends a false message about a culture that tolerates GBV. 

GBV is however a complex issue with intersections that reinforce gender stereotypes. As a result, GBV crimes committed in the private sphere, such as domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and sexual abuse, are often considered taboo to openly discuss, leading to a negative impact on GBV survivors, family, community, and society as a whole.

Article 25 of the Pakistani constitution ensures that all people are afforded the same legal protections, regardless of their gender, and permits the government to take additional measures to ensure the safety of the vulnerable groups, such as women, girls and children. Therefore, to enable effective support for the victims of GBV, judges, prosecutors, first responders, medico-legal doctors, and lawyers all need to work together.

With the goal of enhancing the GBV knowledge and skills in the effective handling of GBV cases, a bespoke orientation and training programme funded by the US Embassy's Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) and conducted by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) particularly for judiciary in Sindh and Balochistan was implemented in collaboration with the judicial academies in Sindh and Balochistan. The training leveraged existing resources and collaborative partnership for knowledge transfer. The training aimed to enhance the capacity of a cross-section of senior judicial officials from provincial and district courts to enable gender-sensitive justice delivery, ensuring safety and security for the vulnerable.

The training program was designed through a systematic methodology of conducting a Training of Trainers of 17 senior members from the judiciary, which included four experienced female judges from Sindh and Balochistan. A unique aspect of mentorship delivered through the UNODC Master Trainers helped to continuously mentor graduated trainers in the preparation of training materials, delivery of training, including post-training coaching sessions to enhance teaching skills. Out of these graduates, three trainers from Sindh and two from Balochistan further cascaded the training, delivering a comprehensive series of trainings for a cross-section of district and sessions judges, lawyers and legal practitioners.

The training was based on explicit understanding that even when legislative measures are particularly designed to respond to gender-based violence, there are numerous problems associated with lack of knowledge and awareness of GBV that limit adoption and implementation of GBV laws into actionable justice to hold perpetrators accountable.

The modules were interactive and emphasized discussion and the opportunity to reflect on one's own beliefs as it is vital for judges to recognize that they are not using gender stereotypes when applying legal principles. The training covered basic and core subjects, including training methodologies, classroom management, gender sensitization, national GBV laws and their relevance to international laws and standards, types and forms of GBV and what could be the gender norms and principles of GBV responsive judicial conduct to support survivors of GBV irrespective of their gender, including vulnerable groups such as women and girls.

A cumulative number of 60 participants that also included 9 women were trained through a series of targeted sessions supervised by UNODC’s master trainers and delivered by the trained graduates. The participants responded favourably to the trainings and ranked them among the finest they had ever received.

The Chief Guest Mr. Rashid Mahmood, Registrar of the Balochistan High Court and Director General of BJA attended the last day of training for the judiciary of Balochistan from August 22nd to 24th  in Quetta. He expressed gratitude to INL and UNODC for focusing on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) and requested continuation of similar trainings for the judiciary. Given the uptake and ownership, the training to combat GBV will go a long way to improve judicial responses to GBV offenses and enable fair, impartial, and just outcomes for the survivors of GBV.




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