As conflict continues to escalate in both the Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, neighbouring countries are increasingly having to find new and improved strategies for dealing with the influx of refugees.
In Uganda since 2008 the American Refugee Committee has been working with partners and refugee communities to specifically address the risk of gender-based-violence in refugee settlements.
The committee and the US Bureau of Population Refugee and Migration (BPRM) have implement a number of measures such as:
- Training health workers on clinical management of rape survivors (CMRS),
- Training partners at Kyangwali refugee settlement camp on caring for survivors of gender-based violence,
- Comprehensive supplies of drugs to treat HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted infections, and
- Train Refugee Welfare Committee and Community Activists on response and prevention of gender-based violence in the settlement;
- Train officials from the Office of the Prime Minister, police, and health workers on gender-based violence, gender-sensitive mediation skills, and referral pathways;
- Develop the Standard Operating Procedures in collaboration with other partners to guide the implementing partners in gender-based violence intervention (the Procedures have been agreed upon and signed by all partners and is in operation); and
- Staff an ongoing 24-Hour GBV Hotline, which serves as a direct information point to survivors who need support from ARC psychosocial support officers.
It’s interesting to observe how, when your mind is fixed on a certain theme you seem to see it everywhere. I’m sure there’s some sociological or psychological term for it but I never paid that much attention in my social science classes until it got to the final year when I specialized in film and television studies.
Anyway, that preamble is slightly by the by. Half way through my masters in violence, conflict and development (VCD) my fellow students and I often joke that we’re in a VCD paradigm. Yet two weeks into my stay in Grenada, the island my parents hail from and which is generally remarked upon for its peacefulness I was astounded to hear of numerous “choppings” (hands being cut off with a machete during disputes).
When by the third week three women had been murdered in the space of eight days in so-called “crimes of passion” it became apparent that the violence the island was witnessing was beyond a chance happening (the previous year the murder rate was 11.5, what the .5 accounts for I’m not quite sure).
Yes, there is rising unemployment that would give weight to the arguments put forward by the likes of RB Freeman (I’m not a fan) but surely that can’t be the full picture? As the intro to my lecture on Unemployment, Labour Markets and Violence suggests: “Arguments that unemployment is a cause of violence and of large-scale armed conflict are common. Evidence that this is so is less clear.”
When talking to an local member of parliament and a senior media professional on the island about the spate of killings they were keen to file the issue away as an abnormality, in fact even the Prime Minister has labelled the killings as “un-Grenadian”. But there is a danger that in failing to assess the root causes of these crimes the opportunity to prevent other families from experiencing such a horrific loss. Which is why I was so pleased, just a few days later to see an advert placed by the Department for Social Development calling for a consultant to carry out research in the factors that may shape understanding of GBV on the island:
The Consultant will plan and conduct a baseline assessment that measures public knowledge of rights and responsibilities about gender-based violence and cultural beliefs, myths and practices that support gender-based violence. The findings of Baseline Study would be used to provide direction and insight into the way in which public sensitization campaigns should be tailored, measure the impact of the project following the implementation of all project activities and assess progress made towards the prevention and eradication of gender based violence in Grenada.
No prizes for correctly guessing that I’ve applied for the job but whether or not I get it is not really the point. This is a very valid piece of research that has the potential to provide a wealth of much need information. I look forward to reading it as it will add much to our limited understanding of this all-too prevalent form of violence in the Grenadian context. Let’s just hope that the NDC government lasts long enough for the project to be completed!