Ministries should create specialized service centres for survivors in cases of violence against women and girls. Well-equipped and competently-staffed centres (see indicators for both descriptors below) will increase reporting of acts of violence, improve safety and conviction rates, and increase timely resolution of cases. Ministries should:
Malaysia – Effective One-Stop-Centres
One-stop service centres established in Malaysia established by the national government, have been recognized as a promising practice in the 2006 Secretary-general’s in-depth study on violence against women and replicated by others all over the world. At the centres, the survivor is seen by a doctor and a counselor in a private room. If she chooses to seek shelter, the doctor or the counselor arrange transport or keep her in the hospital briefly. She may also be referred to social worker. A police unit at the hospital is available for her report and to start investigations.
The Barnahús or Children’s House, Iceland, is a one-stop centre for sexually abused children. It provides a non-threatening atmosphere for victim interviews by specially-trained professionals. The interviews are videotaped for possible use in court, and can be observed by a police, social workers, lawyers, advocates and judges. The Children’s House was created by the Government Agency for Child Protection in Iceland.
Source: Barnahús, last acc. 3-10-11.
Centres should also provide follow-up care including:
South Africa – Thuthuzela Care Centres
South Africa has instituted Thuthuzela Care Centres (TCC), as part of a national anti-rape strategy. The TCC are attached to specialized Sexual Offenses Courts. They provide safety and comfort to survivors, and they have improved conviction rates and timely resolution of cases through efficient collection of evidence and good communication with police and prosecutors. The comprehensive centres provide a quiet place for survivors to be examined, give statements, and receive counselling, medical assistance, and legal assistance, free of charge. Centre staff, on duty 24 hours, includes medical professionals, a social worker, a police officer, a victim assistance officer, and a dedicated case monitor. The victim assistance officer gives the victim information about the examination, procedures, and filing the complaint. The case monitor acts as a liaison between the victim and the court system. A site coordinator oversees coordination of all services so that secondary victimization is avoided. (USAID, 2008) The Thuthuzela centres have also become more child-friendly as levels of child victims have increased. Donors have partnered with the centres to provide specialized equipment which will aid in the prosecution of these cases, including two-way mirrors, posters, drawings, and anatomically-correct dolls.
See a report on establishing a Thuthuzela Care Centre.
See the Thuthuzela Care Centres brochure.
Sources: UNICEF. 2010; Quast. 2008; South Africa Prosecuting Authority. Thuthuzela: Turning Victims into Survivors.
USA – One-Stop Centre for Domestic Violence in Midwest
The Domestic Abuse Service Center (DASC) of Hennepin County, Minnesota, USA, serves people who are victims of actual or threatened violence caused by a family or household member or someone with whom they have had a romantic or sexual relationship. At the DASC, court staff help victims complete the paperwork for an order for protection, submit the order to a judge for review and signing, and take the order to the sheriff’s office to be served on the other party. Other advocacy and service agencies for domestic violence victims are also on site.
USA – New York’s Integrated Domestic Violence Courts
New York State’s Integrated Domestic Violence Courts offer an innovative approach to handling cases involving criminal allegations of domestic violence. They connect each affected family with one judge, who may hear multiple types of cases, including family, criminal, and matrimonial matters. This eliminates confusion in court orders and streamlines the justice process for victims. The courts work with the community and with agencies to provide social services and assistance to victims.
Kosovo – Assistance for Victims
In Kosovo, the Department of Justice (UNMIK) created a Victim’s Advocacy and Assistance Unit in 2002. Its goal was to assist victims as they participated in the justice system and to make the victim’s interests a part of the justice system. Some of the Victim’s Advocates work exclusively with the victims of gender-based crimes. By 2005, they had assisted in 1,408 cases of gender-based violence.
Source: UNFPA. 2005. Gender-Based Violence in Kosovo: A Case Study
Tools for Establishing Government- Affiliated Response Teams and One-Stop Centres:
Developing a Sexual Assault Response Team: A Resource Guide for Kentucky Communities (Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs, 2002). Available in English. This guide, adaptable for use in any community, contains information on:
Delivering Post-rape Care Services: Kenya’s Experience in Developing Integrated Services (Kilonzo et.al., 2008). Available in English. Analyzes service delivery problems in 2003 in Kenya, illustrates development of a post-rape care services algorithm, training programmes and challenges, including cooperation between the health and judicial systems, costing, and summaries of lessons learned.
Tools on Victims’ Rights:
The Home Office, United Kingdom, provides victims of sexual offenses with an informative webpage, including a virtual walkthrough that describes court processes and a video on testifying in court for witnesses.
Le Guide de Droits des Victimes (Republique Francaise Ministère de la Justice, 2007). Available in French. A handbook for women victims of violence and their advocates.
Service Charter for Victims of Crime in South Africa (Gender Directorate, Department of Justice and Constitutional Development, Government of South Africa). Available in English. Rights of victims of crime, complaint information.
For guidance related to specific sectors (such as health), see the detailed modules and search the tools database on this site.