Vienna (Austria), 20 May 2021 – Because Gender-Based Violence Against Women (GBVAW) is still happening every day, everywhere, UNODC is implementing several initiatives around the world in the field of crime prevention and criminal justice, through trainings with police, reviewing legislative initiatives, promoting essential services for survivors, or coaching judges to improve criminal justice systems, to name a few.
GBVAW consists of several types of abuse, including physical, sexual, physiological, and economic abuse, consequently harming families and communities on a socio-economic scale.
Women struggle accessing justice whether they are victims, witnesses, alleged offenders or prisoners, a true key challenge because of discriminatory criminal laws and procedures. This is also portrayed in the lack of gender diversity among criminal justice professionals and the presence of gender bias, highlighting the importance of developing methods to strengthening crime prevention and criminal justice responses to violence against women.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic unfortunately witnessed a great surge in gender-based violence, further reducing contact with the police and justice services. Lockdown policies made victims live with their abusers 24/7 without any privacy or means to access police stations. UNODC conducted a Global Review on the impact of COVID-19 on Criminal Justice System Responses to GBVAW, highlighting evidence-based findings and ways forward.
Since 2010 UNODC has taken several measures to eliminate gender-based violence. The office has been supporting criminal justice proceedings that adopt a victim-centered approach, in line with the updated Model Strategies and Practical Measures on the Elimination of Violence against Women in the Field of Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice and other related international standards and norms.
In Guatemala, for example, UNODC increased women´s access to justice by improving the capacities of Guatemalan Police and the Attorney General Office to respond to violence against women, in particular indigenous women, by enhancing reporting channels and the documentation of cases.
In Nepal, UNODC conducted a study on the situation of women in the criminal justice system, enabling practitioners to understand the realities of survivors and use strategic entry points to improve the administration of justice in this area. UNODC conducted training workshops for judges and prosecutors to strengthen their responses to GBVAW. To raise throughout the country, UNODC also developed a public service announcement broadcasted and developed awareness raising materials on GBV, which were disseminated to reach 6,000 people.
In Egypt, UNODC conducted training workshops for judges on handling cases of violence against women (VAW), based on its Handbook for the Judiciary, such as but not limited to, female genital mutilation, child marriage, and the effective implementation of the national legal framework in Egypt. Under the same joint programme, UNODC supported the Egyptian Forensic Medicine Authority (FMA) by providing medical supplies and securing the specialized VAW clinics’ needs especially in response to COVID-19.
Every day, women and girls worldwide are murdered because of their gender. The 30th session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice is gathering Member States to discuss how to ensure peace, justice and strong institutions for all, especially women, children and victims.
A side event on 18 May on: “Enhancing police and justice responses to gender-based violence against women” allowed to share experiences, tools, and good practices on criminal justice responses to GBVAW, particularly in light of COVID-19 and in view of possible future emergencies.