A new global Police Handbook aims to provide guidance and practical knowledge for police middle managers in addressing some of the most difficult challenges that women survivors of violence face when accessing police services around the world was presented to representatives from law enforcement entities in the Arab States.
21 April 2021 - Cairo, Egypt
UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States in partnership with the United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa (ROMENA), launch a new Handbook on Gender-Responsive Police Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence.
The regional launch of the Handbook was organized by UN Women and UNODC Regional Offices and was held online on 21 April. The event saw the participation of representatives of law enforcement entities from across the region, including in particular police middle managers.
The handbook, developed by UN Women in partnership with UNODC, provides practical, peer-to-peer guidance for police middle managers to enable an effective and gender-sensitive response to violence against women and girls. It is based on and complements existing global and country-specific training materials for law enforcement. The handbook will also be made available in French and Arabic in the coming months.
It provides in-depth guidance on areas such as police responses during crises like COVID-19; gender-responsive police investigations (including being more perpetrator-focused); prevention of violence against women and girls; survivor-centered approaches; promoting positive masculinities and emerging issues, like online violence and exploitation.
Quality police and justice response is crucial to keep women and girls safe from violence, including from the re-occurrence of further violence; hold perpetrators accountable, and provide for effective reparations for victims and survivors. The initial contact with service providers must demonstrate to the survivor that the police sector is committed to her health and safety, take her complaint seriously, and want to ensure that she is well supported on her journey through the justice system.
Since its spread in early 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has created a global emergency of multiple dimensions. Beyond the health repercussions of the coronavirus, a “shadow pandemic” of violence against women and girls (VAWG) has emerged across the world, triggered by lockdown and curfew measures put in place by governments to limit the spread of the virus.
Alongside the increase in violence cases and rising calls for help, support services were put under pressure to meet the needs. Law enforcement entities were forced to shift their focus to enforcing quarantines and increasingly severe ‘stay at home’ measures, and many courts have had to close completely, resulting in postponed hearings and a backlog of cases. With so many police resources needed to ensure public health measures are followed, protection orders may not have been enforced.
According to a regional survey on the effects of COVID-19 on violence against women conducted by UN Women, between 23 percent and 38 percent of women who experienced violence sought help. Out of the list of help sources (Family and Friends/Police and Justice / NGOs and Shelters/ Health), respondents reported that women mainly turned to police and justice to seek support in the majority of the surveyed countries.
"When women finally find the courage to report an incident of violence, they must feel comfortable, be heard, treated with dignity and respect. They must know that their complaint is being taken seriously from the moment they reach out,” said Janneke van der Graaff – Kukler, Deputy Regional Director of UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States.
Mirna Bouhabib, UNODC ROMENA Deputy Regional Representative affirmed that “Police are on the frontline of the criminal justice system. […] Therefore, proper initial police contact is extremely important for survivors of violence, and from this standpoint, achieving an effective police response for all women and girls in contact with the criminal justice system is imperative to the protection of their rights and freedoms.”
The Handbook will be rolled out in pilot countries in the Arab States to measure progress and impact with efforts focused on building trust between the police and local communities, improving collaboration with other service providers, and supporting police middle managers to deliver survivor-centered approaches.
This launch was done with the support of the Government of Japan.
See the Handbook here:
For more information, please contact:
Diego De La Rosa - diego.delarosa(at)unwomen.org
Nourhan El-Nagdy - nourhan.elnagdy(at)unwomen.org
Nermine Abdelhamid - nermine.abdelhamid(at)un.org