Indian police get training on protecting civilians from sexual violence in UN peacekeeping missions

Date: Monday, February 15, 2016

Author: Smita Mitra and Shrijna Dixon

New Delhi, India – With the help of UN Women, the Indian police unit of a paramilitary force to be deployed in the UN peacekeeping mission in Liberia has received training on how to deal with sexual violence and protect women civilians in UN peacekeeping operations.

Stefan Schwarz, a trainer from UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations, explains the role of gender in policing and protection of civilians. Photo: Central Reserve Police Force/Rajesh Kumar

Experts from Integrated Training Services of the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations based in New York conducted the “training of trainers” for 35 officers of the Rapid Action Force in a course held in New Delhi from 11-15 January. All the officers are trainers who will train other officers to be sent on UN peacekeeping missions.

The Rapid Action Force, a unit of the Central Reserve Police Force, specializes in handling crises. It sent the first-ever all-female unit to the mission in Liberia in 2007. India is the world’s largest contributor to UN peacekeeping forces, and as of 2014, 12 per cent of India’s force contribution consisted of police officers.

Protecting women has become more important in UN peacekeeping operations as the systematic use of sexual violence has become increasingly widespread as a weapon of war, and the UN Security Council has authorized peacekeepers to use deadly force if necessary to protect civilians. Women peacekeepers have become critical to peacekeeping, especially to respond to the specific needs and trauma of women survivors. In addition, the Security Council has urged an increase in the participation of women in conflict resolution.

The New Delhi training focused on the protection of civilians, who are the primary targets of sexual violence in international conflicts. The trainers had decades of police work experience in Germany, India, Nigeria and Sweden, and had served in UN peacekeeping missions. The trainees came from a number of states in India, and included three officers who had been on the all-female contingent sent to Liberia.

Trainers and participants at the workshop, along with UN Women Representative Dr. Rebecca Reichmann Tavares and UN Women Programme Assistant Shrijna Dixon. Photo: Central Reserve Police Force CRPF/Rajesh Kumar

The trainers discussed the growing complexities of police duties in UN peacekeeping operations, from humanitarian assistance and monitoring in the 1960s, to the increasing role in law enforcement, training and mentoring, and national reforms and rebuilding.

The trainees said that while gaining a better understanding of sexual violence in international conflicts, they learned lessons that also apply in India, such as in addressing domestic violence and sexual harassment at the workplace. The officers said they did not receive any specific training on gender issues when they were trained to join the Rapid Action Force. They said the UN training helped them overcome their inhibitions in openly discussing issues of sexual abuse and violence, which are sensitive topics in Indian culture.

The Rapid Action Force, the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and UN Women plan to hold such trainings on a regular basis.

  

For more information

Please contact: Rineeta Naik
Communications Analyst, UN Women India
Tel: +91-11-4045 2327
E-mail: rineeta.naik@unwomen.org