Carol Watson Williams, Social Research Consultant with the UNDP
Amid recent cases of gender-based violence, there is a call for steps to be taken to prevent violence against women and children in the Zones of Special Operations (ZOSOs), particularly by members of the security forces.
Carol Watson Williams, Social Research Consultant with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), made the recommendation Wednesday afternoon to a parliamentary committee reviewing the ZOSO legislation.
She cited research showing that women in high-crime communities have expressed concern about sexual harassment by the security forces.
The sexual exploitation of the women, she said, included crimes like rape but also "the abuse of a position of vulnerability."
"Poverty, conflict and chaos all make women, boys and girls profoundly vulnerable to sexual abuse, exploitation and harassment by the security forces," she pointed out.
Mrs Watson Williams has recommended that members of the joint command receive training in prevention of sexual exploitation and harassment and that this training be made a requirement for their deployment in the ZOSOs.
The UNDP representative also expressed concern there is not enough focus on family violence in the ZOSOs.
Mrs Watson Williams argued that with data showing that "the children of 44 per cent of women who have been abused have witnessed this assault on their mothers, sometimes repeatedly, it is critical that we acknowledge the complex link between violence against women and girls, especially in the family, and the reproduction of violent criminals in our toughest communities."
The UNDP wants the joint forces to designate a person on gender-based violence and that the Social Intervention Committee include representatives from the Bureau of Gender Affairs and other similar entities.