To combat gender based violence, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) passed the 2011 Family Law which criminalizes domestic violence. The law provided for the creation of the Department of Combating Violence Against Women and Families (DCVAW), which to respond to incidents of domestic violence. However, DCVAW does not have units in all towns and villages so in most cases, the 104 emergency police officers are the first to respond to such incidents, including cases involving gender-based violence (GBV). While DCVAW officers get training on responding to GBV, police officers outside DCVAW generally do not receive formal training on how to properly handle the sensitivities and vulnerabilities which GBV survivors face. To ensure that officers who respond to these cases have the skills to respond appropriately SEED launched a pilot training to provide introductory GBV training for regular police officers to improve their understanding of GBV, capacity to respond to incidents, and make referrals as appropriate.
To initiate the training program, SEED received the support of the Chief of Police of Sulaimani, Aso Shex Taha Abdulkarim. The police chief acknowledged the challenges, including the increase in technology-based sexual harassment and abuse, and agreed to the training program.
In March, SEED launched the GBV training sessions for police officers in Sulaimani and concluded them in June. SEED provided a one-day training to 100 police officers, split into groups of 20, from Sulaimani’s 104 Emergency Police Unit. The training introduced GBV concepts and guiding principles, referral mechanisms, and improves the officers’ ability to recognize signs of domestic violence and human trafficking and facilitate referrals to appropriate actors, such as DCVAW and its Anti-Trafficking in Persons (TIP) police.
The police were very enthusiastic and asked many questions. The interaction and discussions made the training particularly engaging for SEED and the participants. Most of the officers had not attended any GBV training before.
The feedback from the police officers was overwhelmingly positive. Many said they found the training interesting, useful, and saw the training’s relevance to their work.
“Before the training, I thought the information would be good, but by the end of the training I learned more than I expected and I felt my knowledge and understanding improve; I didn’t realize how useful this training would be,” said one officer.
“This training will support our daily work, we now have more experience on how to respond to domestic violence and GBV. Every police officer should attend training like this,” summarized a participant.
These training sessions have been provided under a program supported by the United States Government.