What factors contribute to effective training/education?
In Malaysia, our challenge is getting the police to acknowledge and accept as policy that ongoing training is vital. With the public's realisation that domestic violence is indeed a crime, there was an increase in reports from victims of violence. In 1995 there were 1,477 police reports, however in 1997 there were over 5,000 police reports. The response by most police officers dealing with these reports, both male and female, is typical of the community that holds the belief that the family is too precious a unit. Unkind remarks, suggestions that there will be further violence if she charges her abuser, comments about being a good wife were common.
But in Malaysia, it is not only the police that need training. When one looks at the protocol developed for the Domestic Violence Act (DVA), any person who wants to get an interim protection order (IPO) must make a police report AND get the IPO only through a government welfare officer who will assess the case and provide/encourage marriage counseling. Thus all women must go through the welfare office. She cannot go through a lawyer, police or just file for her own IPO. Women are treated as wards that have to be guided through the system, they are not given real choices.
While there is recognition that domestic violence is a crime, and something should be done about it, the various agencies are not trained or sensitised to the issue.
Over and over again we are reminded that the men and women in uniform are still very much the product of the community at large, and while focused training is invaluable, the community too needs to change its attitude. Another contributing factor is the acceptance that power and control is a way of keeping things in order in a country/state.
Essentially, constant and on-going training is vital, and we in Malaysia have only one foot at the door, we hope that constant monitoring will bring about a policy change that will include gender training for every police and welfare officer.
Ivy Josiah, Women's Aid Organisation, Selangor, Malaysia
Mahila Samakhya, which means women's equality through collectivity, has dealt with the issue of violence in a unique way. The government funds this rural women's education programme but it is an autonomous registered body.
Mahila Samakhya defines education as a process of critical thinking where women analyze their own life situation, prioritize what they feel are their key issues, access the information to deal with he problem and take action based on what they determine is the best course. The entire programme is operationalized on the ground through the formation of women's collectives. The programme works with rural, landless and poor women. The entire process of women coming together to form a group, meeting together, discussing perhaps for the first time what they want to do and actually acting on their needs is in itself a very educational process. The learning from each of these educational experiences leads to newer areas of information and action and empowerment.
With every concrete action that the women's group takes (getting a water hand pump repaired or electric lights for the street, ration cards, etc.) their credibility in the village is built. But then the process of empowerment is not about a series of actions but also includes building awareness about one's life situation - why we are poor, illiterate, what are the factors of oppression, how do they operate, etc. When the women's group has built a certain credibility in the community, when they have gained greater confidence and understand their own viability, it is then that very often the collective is willing to move to deal with more difficult issues such as violence.
Anuradha Rajan, International Centre for Research on
New Delhi, India
In March 1996 the Nadja Center in Bulgaria was established in order to respond to the increasing violence against women and the lack of proper care for victims of such violence. It provides a variety of services, including a telephone help-line, psychological, legal and social counseling, psychotherapy, referral services. During the project implementation phase a needs assessment was undertaken with the following major findings: The National Police Office reported that in Sofia alone, 15 women a year are killed by their husbands. According to the Nadja's Center's own statistics, there was an enormous increase in the number of women who used the center's programmes for the 1997 year compared to the 1996 year. (In 1996 there were 26 helpline consultations; in 1997 there were 960.)
The analysis of this situation inspired us to create more centers for helping victims. The idea of these centers is that there is a safe and secure place where it is possible to talk about the violence in the atmosphere of safety, understanding and empathy. We plan to organize preventive and educational modules for general practitioners, police officers, teachers and others related to the problem of violence. And, of course, we need financial support.
Rossanka Venelinova, MD, Sofia, Bulgaria
Health providers, and specifically those who work within sexual and reproductive health, are strategically placed to protect survivors of gender-based violence. This is because most acts of gender-based violence occur within the context of sexuality and reproduction - a no-go area for most people and yet one which concerns almost every woman
The International Planned Parenthood Federation Western Hemisphere Region has since 1997 undertaken a series of training and sensitization programmes as well as the development of materials in the area of integrating early identification of gender-based violence into the work of their Family Planning Associations (FPAs) in Brazil, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
Some findings from the Venezuela FPA pilot programme noted that FPA staff were initially afraid or uncomfortable with approaching the subject. They were not prepared to deal with the consequences of finding out and subsequently lacked the relevant information, tools and skills for dealing with survivors. Another key factor that the FPA had to address was that of handling the possible risks to survivors for coming out; what will happen to survivors when they go back home? Will this process lead to increasing the risks of subsequent abuse?
The content of the training sessions focussed on barriers that prevented people from touching the subject: the "Pandora's Box syndrome," alternative ways of dealing with barriers, the specific training needs of health care providers, relevant tools and guides as well as developing interview skills and confidence building. An integral part of this process was the use of two international experts who conducted the intensive training for the medical and educational personnel that had direct contact with clinic users.
Early indications from the Venezuela FPA show that this process had increased the motivation and commitment of staff to offer services that target the identification of abuse. The FPA is currently seeking to expand the project and offer counseling, medical, psychological and legal services to all its centres including youth centres.
Naana Otoo-Oyortey, International Planned
My experiences working with abused women both in Hong Kong and Canada tell me clearly that immigrant women need to know their rights in the new country so they will know what options they have when facing male violence. Based on their experiences I have learned the importance of addressing the need for integrating human rights issues into ESL (English as a Second Language) curricula. Many women told me they learned of their rights through a guest speaker in their classes. We can't depend upon the kindness and awareness of the ESL teachers to invite those guests to speak to women about their rights. We should find ways to educate women with those rights, especially women who emigrated from countries where women's human rights are not taken seriously.
The most successful training courses for judges that deal with gender-based violence and human rights violations in the region of Latin America were those that incorporated judges as trainers. However, for these activities to be effective over time, there is a need for follow-up after training. Few countries are keeping the kinds of statistics that might indicate whether the principles dealt with in the training are being applied. While the training courses are useful, there is a complementary need for more lawyers and paralegals to be trained in how to use the new laws that are being promulgated, the inter-American treaty on violence against women (Convention of Belem do Para) in courts, and to develop case law in the field.
Female-staffed police stations as a strategy worked well in most of the countries of Latin America when the officials had been given training and when there was a high level of support for the process. In countries where there was a need to first overcome and ingrained reluctance to trust the system, the stations made inroads and were effective confidence-building measures and worked best where linked with strong support from the national machinery and articulate NGOs.
I agree that for the process to be complete, the entire police force/judicial system must become sensitive to gender issues and recognize that today - in most countries of the region - laws are on the books that require action from the state. The female-staffed police stations were an important step forward and enabled a dual process of putting in place a rapid response to a need while working to achieve change in the larger structure.
Linda Poole, Organization of American States/Organizacion
de Estados Americanos, Washington D.C., USA
We need to take a holistic approach in our training. We must look at the content of the training manuals used to train police officers, because if the training does not help them to have a conceptual understanding of violence against women -i.e. physical, psychological, economic, sexual - then we will be failing in our efforts to eradicate violence against women in our countries.
COVAW-Kenya tried to address these issues by holding talks with healthcare workers in private hospitals in Nairobi. The objectives of the training were to help the healthcare professionals improve their response to victims of abuse and also to discover barriers faced in helping survivors of violence. The nurses told us the relationship between the husband and the doctor was very big barrier in helping the victim. The few doctors who participated said they didn't want to lose their clients by talking about what was happening nor did they want to give evidence in long, drawn-out court cases. We also found out that their understanding of violence against women was limited to physical violence and that they didn't associate their clients' psychosomatic problems with what was going on in their lives.
Participants showed great interest in wanting to know more about violence against women. I believe training people who come in contact with victims is key in helping to deal with violence against women, and I mean proper training, not just one day of training.
Angellina Mwau, New Jersey, USA
The Sisterhood Is Global Institute (SIGI) has developed a model for training trainers who would raise the awareness levels of different groups, whether service providers such as police, doctors and judges, or grassroots women and men activists.
Embedded in our model for training is the notion that all strategies seeking to heighten awareness and generate action must be culture-specific and locally relevant, and must use material, be it research, media, stories, or myths, that is relevant to the community. The model is therefore culture-based, grassroots-oriented and non-hierarchical. It promotes interaction among equals, reciprocity of roles between teacher and learner, and exchange of positions between communicators and audiences.
Using this model we developed a manual entitled "Safe and Secure: Eliminating Violence Against Women and Girls in Muslim Societies." The manual is formulated to train advocates and trainers to end violence against women and girls by helping grassroots populations learn about universal human rights concepts and major international human rights documents which address violence against women and girls. It relates the struggle to eliminate gender-based violence to the process of empowering women by assisting women to: identify sources of violence in the family, community, society, state; communicate their information about and understanding of violence to others; and influence governments to formulate and implement policies which eliminate violence.
We have received encouraging reports from the field. SIGI's workshop coordinator in Lebanon, Afifa Dirani Arsanios, reported that "the fact that the silence is broken and that the dialogue or discussion of violence is open is by itself an achievement."
Rakhee Goyal, Sisterhood Is Global Institute, Maryland, USA
Some factors we have experienced in providing training programmes to adolescents regarding domestic violence, sexual assault and date rape in a high school setting:
> Do not overload the group with handouts. Put a set of the handouts/information in the school library for access. The most useful handout is a small, wallet-size card with the names and numbers of local agencies offering assistance.
> Visual aids such as short videos with brief discussions afterwards appear to be the preferred medium for attention maintenance.
> Playing and then discussing the lyrics of songs that they know is also a useful tool, and there are quite a few internationally known songs, particularly about domestic violence.
> Ensure that you have very clearly agreed upon policies/guidelines regarding what action if any to take about disclosures in or after the sessions with young people, particularly if there are different agencies facilitating the sessions.
Jillian Meyers-Brittain, Australia
The Women's Support Project works on all areas of male violence, especially domestic violence, rape and sexual assault, child sexual abuse and incest. We work to make links between different forms of male violence to raise awareness of the extent and effects of male violence, and for better services for abused women.
In Scotland, special police units receive training in dealing with victims of male violence. Most of our training is aimed at changing attitudes and increasing officers' understanding of and response to abused women. The job of training police officers has become much easier since the government highlighted domestic violence as a priority. Police here have an initiative on domestic violence which advocates arrest whenever possible. This has been very successful and represents a major change in police handling of domestic violence.
Jan Macleod, Women's Support Project, Scotland, U.K.
As a former Gender in Development UN DP staff member in the Republic of Moldova, I feel that one of our strongest programmes was our awareness training on domestic violence. We worked in two main areas: the first training model was created for government officials and policy makers, the second was designed for college students, both male and female. The content of these two training workshops was very different, however both were successful and have continued for approximately four years.
The training implemented for ministry officials and members of Parliament was televised nationally and covered by every major media outlet in Moldova. The first was created as a "dialogue" in which ministry officials could share their perspectives on the issue of family violence with international organizations and NGOs. Because the topic of violence against women was "taboo," we decided it would be best to create a forum that was not too far out of a typical conference in Moldova. It resulted in no concrete action but it publicized the issue throughout the country and started an exchange.
The second workshop was more progressive and aimed at creating action on the part of policy makers. The president of Parliament (now president of the country) attended with several ministers along with key spokespeople from human rights NGOs. After each being given a policy-oriented task, each working group presented their ideas. The large group together devised a series of steps that both the ministry of justice and NGOs could take to address to issue of violence. Less than two weeks later the Ministry of Justice began revising the laws and policies regarding violence against women. The women's NGO forum, with the help of UNDP Gender in Development Programme has continued to advise in the process.
The training workshops aimed at sensitizing young people involved values clarification, gender roles, dating violence, sexual harassment and rape. We trained a small group of Moldovan women to lead the trainings, and trained teams of high school girls from eight villages to train the other young men and women. Within one year more than 200 young men and women received the training.
Although these two training workshops are not without problems, they have had an impact on both the policies and awareness of Moldovans. The most crucial component was the ability to empower Moldovan women and girls from the villages to implement the training themselves. They came up with the suggestions and adaptations that made the workshops more relevant to them and their peers and provided a sustainable element to the training.
Elisa Levy, New York, USA
Historically male clergy have tended to minimize or even deny the existence of domestic violence. The president of a well-known Protestant seminary told the entire gathered student body and many alumnae that in 25 or more years of parish work, he had never encountered a single family dealing with violence. Men tend not to demonstrate receptivity, with the result that the problem remains hidden.
Women who have confided in their male priests and pastors have sometimes been blamed, or been given cruel and damaging advice to stay with their husbands and try not to make them angry. Shelters are often seen by male clergy as radical