Woman and Child Protection Unit renamed

05 Apr 2015 17:50pm
WINDHOEK, 05 APR (NAMPA) – The Namibian Police Force (NamPol)’s Women and Child Protection Unit (WCPU) has been renamed the Gender-Based Violence Investigation Unit (GBVIU).
NamPol Inspector Slogan Matheus said in a media statement issued on Sunday the name change was effected from 01 April 2015, and was prompted by complaints, especially from males, about the discriminatory name of the unit since it was established in 1993 in Windhoek.
Fifteen other units have since been established throughout the country, and are mostly located within the premises of local State hospitals.
Matheus said men felt discriminated against in terms of assistance or services rendered by the unit because of its name.
The name change also comes after recommendations of the Second National Conference on Gender-Based Violence (GBV) held from 02 to 04 July 2014 to “rename the Women and Child Protection Unit using a gender-neutral name to encourage all people including men to report GBV, and follow up by changing attitudes of service providers towards men who are victims of abuse”.
“This was a daily challenge that the personnel of the unit had to face and explain in the execution of their duties. It was not just a mere complaint but of such severity that it became discussion points at various workshops, conferences, training sessions and other gatherings where laws and implementations are on the agenda,” he said.
The name was seen as negatively affecting NamPol’s efforts to combat and prevent all forms of abuse, and could also discourage men to go to the units and lay charges of abuse.
Matheus was further quoted in the statement as saying the fact remains that women and children make out the larger percentage in terms of being victims of abuse, but still men also fall prey to abuse within a domestic relationship as well as in the society at large.
The GBVIU will provide all services to the public including issues of sexual offences, juvenile justice and child protection, domestic violence; provide integrated services to victims, counselling, physical health services, legal advocacy, child protection, investigate GBV crimes, referrals and safe shelters.
The Unit is a specialized unit mandated to prevent, detect, deal with and investigate all crimes committed against all victims of abuse in the framework of the Rape Act no. 8/2000, and Domestic Violence Act no. 4/2003 aimed at providing a conducive atmosphere for victims of domestic abuse and to make those in need of services feel free and comfortable to visit the unit and tell their stories.
Before the inception of the WCPU, women and children who had fallen prey to physical, emotional and sexual abuse generally had to report instances of abuse to their local police stations.
“There, they had to describe their ordeal in detail to sometimes less sympathetic Charge office members, and in most cases Charge offices were usually overcrowded and the environment was just not conducive to reports of this nature,” he said.
The interviewing of traumatized children specially requires ample time to enable the police officer to compile a complete and comprehensive report on the crime that was committed.
The lack of privacy, sympathetic ears, and overall lack of victim friendly and conducive environment for traumatized survivors of abuse contributed to the fact that some women and children becoming reluctant to report cases of abuse to the police, Matheus stated.