Tackling domestic violence put at the top of the agenda

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Christine Jaworsky, Director Avon Foundation for Women, left, with Cindy Dyer, Vice President Human Rights Team, Vital Voices and Noelle Collins Belfast Women’s Aid

Domestic violence was put firmly at the top of the local agenda recently when Northern Ireland’s most influential leaders from the legal, prosecution, law enforcement and frontline support sectors gathered for the first ever Justice Institute on Gender-Based Violence to be held in the UK.

Funded by the Avon Foundation for Women, the Justice Institute on Gender-Based Violence is an innovative and interactive training programme that provides participants with the tools needed to better identify, investigate and prosecute gender-based violent crimes.

The event which took place in The Merchant Hotel from February 27 to March 1 was run by the Washington DC-based Vital Voices Global Partnership and the US Department of State and was led by a range of international and local experts who shared their expert knowledge with over 50 delegates from the PSNI, the Public Prosecution Office, criminal and civil justice workers, lawyers, and frontline workers.

The three-day long event agenda included –

  • How to more effectively investigate and prosecute gender-based violence
  • Best practice using a process-oriented approach to achieve the best possible results when investigating and prosecuting domestic violence cases
  • How to evaluate, investigate, litigate, and dispose of cases locally
  • How to consider the impact of each of their decisions on the victim’s safety and well-being

In bringing the Belfast event to fruition, the Vital Voices Global Partnership was supported on the ground by the Belfast Area Domestic and Sexual Violence Partnership which comprises of the agencies, organisations and groups working locally in improving services and support for victims of domestic violence and abuse.

Commenting at the conclusion of the Justice Institute event Christine Jaworsky, Director, Avon Foundation for Women, said: Belfast was identified as uniquely well-suited to benefit from a Justice Institute not only due to its unique history of conflict and the impact of this on intimate partner violence but also due to its network of dedicated advocates working tirelessly to support survivors of violence.

It’s very clear after three days of discussions that the local teams have a strong desire and will to affect real change for women in the Belfast area, and Northern Ireland in general.”

Noelle Collins, Belfast Domestic and Sexual Violence Partnership said: “The Institute was absolutely brilliant and the feedback from the participants was extremely good. This new way of interactive training was really innovative and refreshing. One male Social Worker who I spoke to said it was the best training event he had ever attended in terms of giving him an insight into domestic violence and sexual abuse.

“The joined up working together proved invaluable, and the commitments made will make a real difference to the future of women experiencing domestic violence in the future. The Belfast Domestic and Sexual Violence Partnership are truly indebted to Vital Voices and the Avon Foundation for choosing Belfast as their location.

Cindy Dyer, Vice President Human Rights Team, Vital Voices said: “The Justice Institute in Belfast allowed service providers, police, and prosecutors the opportunity to work together to create a stronger safety net for victims of gender based violence, while also increasing accountability for offenders.  The importance of this collaboration was highlighted by one participant who stated, “This was the best training I’ve ever been to.  I work with perpetrators and never get to hear the victim perspective, so I learned so much, especially about the manipulation that perpetrators use against their victims.”

Since 2014 18 Justice Institute events have now taken place in 11 countries with high rates of domestic violence, including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, India, Mexico, Nepal, the Philippines, Romania, South Africa and now, Northern Ireland.

• VIEW’s latest issue which looks at Domestic Abuse is available to read at http://viewdigital.org/2018/03/08/latest-issue-of-view-insight-into-domestic-abuse/

• To receive regular issues of VIEW and e-zine about our training courses, sign up at http://viewdigital.org/sign-get-view/


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