A three-day workshop aimed at sensitizing personnel of the South Sudan National Police Service and the National Prison Service on sexual and gender-based violence is underway in Torit state.
Activities during the first day included role plays to emphasize the relevance of gender equality for team cohesiveness.
“Every member of the team needs to be clear on the rules in any police operation, regardless of their gender,” said chief inspector Stalin Chacon Alberto of the United Nations Police.
“Success in missions requires the presence of good communication, leadership, discipline and planning,” added Henrry Saul Sermeno Canizalez, another UN police officer.
The forum has a 20 per cent female participation rate and is engaging the public safety, traffic police and immigration units of the law enforcement service.
“Our role cannot be ignored, because we are best placed to deal with complex, sensitive cases involving women,” said officer Afaf Zackaria, a female corrections officer.
“It is clear that we need to work together if we want to achieve anything at all,” asserted Private Martha Odwa, who works for the Criminal Investigation Department.
“Today’s group work and discussions have helped me understand the need for consensus building in a team,” stated Ms. Odwa’s colleague, Sergeant Major Adolfo Oswaha.
Subsequent sessions during the week will delve into topics such as conflict related sexual violence, handling of victims of sexual offences, child protection in armed conflict, case management and court procedures as well as early and forced marriage.
“It is an open secret that most of our officers manage cases poorly. I hope this week’s training will provide the needed technical support to correct this,” said Major Justin Keleopas, the public relations officer for the local police force.
According to him, some officers wrongly assume that their work is to merely record statements of victims, which means that the equally crucial task of preparing cases for courts is sometimes delayed or neglected.
Incidentally, some participants claim culturally induced norms often mean that women are treated as subordinates of male colleagues, which has a negative impact on female officers’ possibilities of becoming properly integrated in the workplace.
“Positions considered ‘important’ and gender-sensitive, like the ones that deal with women and children, were previously held by men,” explained Henrry Canizalez. “This is gradually changing.”
“Female victims of sexual crimes often have to interact with male police officers,” Captain Gabriel Lubate Saverio, director of the special protection unit at the local station, confirmed.
The workshop will conclude on Friday with a first-aid training segment facilitated by the South Sudan Red Cross.