UNDP wants women/girls in ZOSOs protected from sexual abuseSaturday, April 10, 2021
KINGSTON, Jamaica — The United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) local body says there is a need to protect females from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (SEA) and Sexual Harassment (SH) by the security forces in the crime-fighting Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs).
Senior Research Consultant and spokesman for the UN agency, Carol Watson Williams, says that research has shown there is need to protect women and girls from possible abuse in the ZOSOs.
“Since our concern falls within the area of Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), we will first speak to the issue of SEA/SH by security forces, and the importance of protecting women and girls in the Zones from any such possible abuse,” she told last Wednesday's meeting of the Law Reform (Zones of Special Operations) (special security and Community Development Measures) Act at Gordon House.
“We know from research done by Dr Herbert Gayle, and the Violence Prevention Alliance, that young women in high crime communities have said (that) while they feel safer with police presence in their neighbourhood they are disturbed by the high level of sexual harassment by the police,” she stated.
“By 'sexual exploitation and abuse' we are referring to crimes like rape, but also violations of any ban on sexual relationships that include 'abuse of position of vulnerability' which, we believe, will apply to residents in the ZOSOs,” she told the committee.
She added that “poverty, conflict, and chaos all make women, boys and girls profoundly vulnerable to sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment by security forces”.
“We, therefore, recommend changes to the sections of the Act which sets out the qualifications of the Joint Command. Under that section, in addition to their training as members of the JDF and JCF, the Joint Command is expected to have training in human rights, use of force, and community development initiatives,” she argued.
She recommended an amendment to require the Joint Command and Joint Forces have training in the prevention and mitigation of sexual exploitation and abuse and sexual harassment. And, additionally, to mandate this training by an approved provider as part of preparation for deployment in the Zones.
In addition she said that each Zone has a written accountability and reporting system, which should include data on any reports of sexual exploitation, abuse or harassment by the Joint Force.
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