By Joyce Mukucha
The United Nations (UN) Women Executive Director, Ms Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, has communicated that gender-responsive policing is pivotal to enabling women and girls to have more confidence in law enforcement and to feel they are represented.
Speaking in New York at an event convened by UN Women and global advocacy organization ‘NO MORE,’ she reiterated that there was need to craft effective mechanisms as well as fostering solutions aimed at ensuring that gender imbalance against women and girls in communities is curbed.
Solutions, she emphasised, to ending harmful bias, and increasing diverse representation, when responding to violence against women and girls were crucial.
The event was also graced by regional decision-makers and influencers from within law enforcement and policing, and civil society organizations.
“We need a truly ‘gender-responsive’, survivor-centred police and justice system where law enforcement officers – male and female – are fully trained, supported by management and enjoy the trust of their communities, and particularly that of women and girls in all their diversity.
“Racial bias must be addressed to create real change in police responses to gender-based violence. I remind UN member states of their commitment to use the newly launched Handbook on Gender-Responsive Police Services for Women and Girls Subject to Violence as a tool to implement gender-responsive policing practices throughout their justice systems,” said Ms Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Jane Randel, Co-founder and Board Chair of ‘NO MORE’s’ said “While gender-responsive policing is momentum around the world, the intersecting forms of bias and discrimination within the justice sector seems to stop many women and girls from receiving the needed help.”
Too often, Randel said, when women bravely come forward to report domestic or sexual violence, they do not get an appropriate response from their local police force, especially in marginalized communities and communities of colour.
“We need to come together to fuel cultural change in policing where it’s needed; to insist that policing focuses on the actions of the perpetrator and not solely on the credibility of the victim; and to push for the passage of laws that enable charges to be filed and to stick,” she said.
Professor Caroline Bettinger-Lopez, Professor and Director of the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law, said a plan was underway to release a special collection on ‘VAWNet’ on ‘Gender Bias in Policing’.
It will provide various perspectives and resources for advocates, law enforcement leaders and others who are considering ways to improve law enforcement responses to gender-based violence, particularly in underserved or marginalized communities.
Prof. Bettinger-Lopez said there was need to continue strengthening efforts to improve the law enforcement response in a manner that is more trauma-informed, survivor-centered, and accountable.
It was announced at the event that a new special collection of resources focused on improving law enforcement responses to domestic violence and sexual assault has been compiled, supported by UN Women, as part of the COURAGE in Policing Project.
The project is a brainchild of the National Research Centre on Domestic Violence, the Human Rights Clinic at the University of Miami School of Law and the Casa de Esperanza National Latin Network.
By Joyce Mukucha