Thirty police officers from Apia and national outposts participated in a “Sensitivity Training Workshop” hosted by U.N. Women on Friday.
The workshop was coordinated to provide officers outside of the Domestic Violence Unit with a comprehensive introduction to the causes, affects, and forms of intimate partner and domestic violence that exist in Samoa.
Under the steering of Commissioner Keil, the Ministry of Police is working towards a greater sense of awareness of this issue.
“The Police are committed to making Samoa safer and addressing Gender Based Violence in order to do so. All officers can only perform their duties better if they have a broader understanding of the causes of domestic violence and thus can serve the people of Samoa as well as uphold the law.” said Police Commissioner, Fuiavailili Egon Keil.
The Police Commissioner reminded the officers present that legislation now supports people speaking out, and the Domestic Violence Unit is exclusively there to support them. All Police, from every division, should take the protection of women and children in the community seriously and treat it as a priority.
The D.V.U. should be any victim’s first point of call, then they can be given direction on the prosecution and support services available to them.
“This intervention was held to provide Community engagement officers with the means to understand the root cause of domestic violence, the types of violence that exist, and why relationships continue even when violence is present” explained U.N.
Women representative Suisala Mele Maualaivao “We are grateful to the Attorney General’s office for providing a brief on all the current laws that address gender based violence as well as to the Domestic Violence Unit for sharing their knowledge and experience.”
U.N. Women hopes to host more of these type of sensitivity trainings to not only help officers better comprehend the dynamics of violence but hopefully to encourage more sympathetic treatment for survivors.
Dominique Maidment, Prevention Specialist for U.N. Women explained “Samoa has made great strides in recent years in providing services to women who are experiencing violence, mitigating the life-threatening effects of violence against women.
However, implementing high-quality, evidence-based interventions to stop violence before it starts is critical to achieving real progress for women and girls.” Preventing violence against women before it starts is a rapidly evolving field, both globally and in Samoa.
U.N. Women hosted a Primary prevention to end violence against Women and Children workshop earlier in the week, which used the principles of the public health approach in order to prevent violence.
This is a relatively new approach in terms of an applied method with only a few successful examples available in the short time it has existed. Samoa may be the next success story if Prevention is adopted here on a large scale.
In order to ensure that prevention interventions in Samoa are grounded in the current evidence and that interventions can eventually contribute to the growing global evidence-base, actors and stakeholders in Samoa need training specific to the prevention of violence against women and girls.