Micronesian police attend sensitising workshop
Police from around the region have gathered in Pohnpei to look at ways to improve how they deal with gender violence and discrimination against women.
Police from around the region have gathered in Pohnpei, in the Federated States of Micronesia, to look at ways to improve how they deal with gender violence and discrimination against women.
The training is being run by Fiji's Women's Crisis Centre with more than 20 officers from the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, the Cook Islands and the Marshall Islands participating.
Koro Vaka'uta reports.
The Co-ordinator for the Women's Crisis Centre is Shamima Ali.
She says the two-week workshop is part of the Pacific Police Development Programme under the Australian Federal Police.
It comes out of concern about police response to crimes of violence against women, girls and children included. These programmes are about sensitising police officers to the issue of violence against women and girls. Looking at gender inequalities, examining religion and culture to work to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.
Ms Ali says the workshop is covering a range of issues including the dynamics of abuse and rape and the root causes of discrimination that can impact everyone, including police.
The whole socialisation process that men and women go through force men into a stage, into as sense of entitlement, that they have rights over women, they can do whatever they want to and there are some social norms that allow for this. Those attitudes are taken into the police force and that is then how they respond.
The acting head of police in Pohnpei, Hermis Edmund, admits the approach of local police needs to change.
We tend to believe that domestic violence or violence amongst couples, it's their problem. We don't understand that when a woman, if she decided to come to the police, she has been experiencing a lot of times being beaten up so from this training we have learnt it is not the first case. It has been going on several times already and we have to deal with that report seriously.
Mr Edmund says once the workshop is complete he is hoping to meet with his staff with the hope of implementing new policy.
Sergeant Junior Silk from the Marshall Islands police is also optimistic of change. Sergeant Silk says police are being equipped with the skills to approach situations with more empathy for all parties.
It will help alot. Counselling is not the only solution for the offender but the re-education of the mind of the offender will help.
While the training workshop has been conducted twice in Suva, it's the first time it's being held in the northern Pacific. Shamima Ali says the material is modified slightly to take into account the matrilineal past of Micronesian culture but in many ways the challenges and issues are very similar.
The similarities are so great, it's like I am sitting in Papua New Guinea. We're talking about women's worth, we are talking about male privileges. There are variations like matrilineal societies, like bride price down south in Melanesia and other things. Slight variations but as far as men/women roles that have been allocated to women and men, we see a uniformity across the Pacific.
Ms Ali says the feedback from participants indicate the hunger for more training.
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