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SADC develops tools to curb GBV across the Region

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The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has developed tools to curb regional Gender Based Violence (GBV) in the Region.

In a presentation at the virtual Regional Dialogue on GBV in refugee and other humanitarian settings held on 25th November 2021, Ms Jacinta Hofnie, Human Security Officer in the Directorate of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Affairs, said the overall objective of the tools is to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement and other first responders to address Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the SADC Region.

The Dialogue coincided with the launch of the commemoration of 16 Days Activism against GBV whose theme this year is "Orange the World: End Violence against Women Now!"

Ms. Hofnie said the tools also aim to demonstrate operationalisation and implementation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development and the SADC GBV Strategic Plan of Action on GBV.

The tools include SGBV Training Guidelines; Regional Guideline to Develop Standard Operational Procedures (SOPs); while the Regional Strategy on Rehabilitation of GBV perpetrators/offenders and Regional Migration Policy Framework are still being developed.

The SGBV Training Guidelines provide information related to international conventions, responding to victims/survivors of SGBV related crimes and working with stakeholders to enhance partnerships in combating and prosecuting these offences. It covers issues related to the definitions of gender and GBV; international, continental/ regional protocols on SGBV; perception and bias in law enforcement; rights of victims/survivors and victimology; communication and crisis intervention; crime scene management and evidence collection; interviewing survivors of SGBV and interagency and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) cooperation.

The development of the SGBV Training Guideline is in response to the Article 24 of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development on the Training of Service Providers, and the Regional Strategy and Framework of Action for Addressing GBV (2018 – 2030) which highlight the need to address capacity of key programming areas, namely prevention, protection, care and support as well as knowledge management, women, peace and security strategy.

The tools and guidelines have extensive input by Member States and were presented to the SADC Chief of Police Sub-Committee in June 2021 and subsequently approved by Ministers responsible for Gender/Women's Affairs in August 2021.

The guidelines and tools are a standardised training tool for law enforcement personnel, criminal justice practitioners, social workers and aim to ensure quality and consistent training on GBV across SADC Member States as well as ensuring that the rights of survivors and victims are uniformly protected, and provides an overarching framework for Member States on developing detailed/in-depth national level training manuals that will be country and context specific.

The Regional Guideline to Develop GBV Standard Operating Procedures underscore the importance of coordination and partnerships between various actors for different services, including clarity of roles and ensuring efficient and effective management of GBV cases among stakeholders. The SOP Guideline is informed by the Essential Services Package for Women and Girls Subject to Violence (2015) produced by UN Women, United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), World Health Organisation (WHO), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC).

It serves as specific procedures and agreements that outline the roles and responsibilities of each actor in the prevention of and response to GBV, and sets guiding principles and standards for ethical, safe, and coordinated multi-sector service delivery and was approved by Ministers responsible for Gender/Women's Affairs in August 2021. The SOP Guideline provides concrete and pragmatic guidance on what steps to follow in the development and implementation of the SOPs and referral mechanisms; outlines the critical components of coordinated multi-sectoral responses for victims of GBV and describes the essential services to be provided to GBV victims by the health, social services, police and justice sectors.

The guideline also outlines the steps to follow when developing GBV SOPs and referral pathways and discusses key considerations when developing GBV SOPs in conflict and post-conflict situations.

The SADC Secretariat continues to roll out and disseminate the Regional GBV tools to Member States to ensure Member States develop their own context specific national tools.