Creating a coordinated community response program
There are several types of coordinated community response to violence against women:
- Community partnering – less formal, grassroots model where a collaborative oversight body helps to coordinate activities;
- Community intervention – focused on training and capacity building for organizations working to serve women, hold offenders accountable, and prevent violence;
- Community organizing – focused on raising awareness and encouraging action community-wide; and
- InterAgency Approach – focused on ensuring coordination between parts of the justice system and other service providers, operating off of a common plan of action.
(See: Domestic Violence: Legislation and its Implementation, 40-45, UNIFEM (2009))
- The Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse presents additional information about the set-up and functioning of an array of programs across the US. Regardless of the format, members in coordinated community response programs should develop:
- a shared philosophical framework on violence against women;
- an understanding of each others’ roles; and
- a plan to improve the response of different institutions and agencies to violence against women.
- Mapping the experiences of women who have been victims of violence is a key piece of developing a coordinated response. Documenting the experiences of women when they ask for help from police or others, try to access services, get legal help, find physical and mental health care, etc., is the first step in identifying partners that should be included in a coordinated community response network and will help prioritize gaps in implementation. [Link to the Monitoring Chapter of this asset] Mapping the experience of advocates trying to help women escape from and recover from violence can also provide important insights. Mapping is often undertaken in the form of case studies of individual women, or consolidated needs assessment reports. The report What a Waste: The Case for an Integrated Violence Against Women Strategy, produced by the Women’s National Commission, presents examples of individual case studies from the UK that were used in the process of mapping for an integrated response. The Advocates for Human Rights’ report on implementation of laws against Domestic Violence in Bulgaria is an example of how court records and human rights fact-finding interviews can be used to map implementation.
Promising Practice: Safety Audits to Track Systems Response
Safety Auditing is a tool developed by US-based Praxis International in the domestic violence context to help determine whether women’s safety is actually being promoted by the policies and procedures designed for that purpose. A safety audit is conducted by a multidisciplinary team drawn from the institutions/systems being audited that examines whether work routines and ways of doing business strengthen or impede safety for victims. The audit team reviews all aspects of an interagency response to violence and looks for gaps that may create safety risks for victims. The Audit is focused on understanding how 1) a victim becomes a legal ‘case’; 2) responses to that case are organized and coordinated within and across intervening agencies; and 3) complexity of risk and safety varies for each individual victim. The audit team conducts interviews, observational research, and reviews the paper trail created as systems respond to victims. Analysis then focuses on how risks for women result from the systems that are in place and how those risks can be eliminated. This process provides critical feedback into the community response to cases of violence against women. The Praxis Safety and Accountability Audit Guide provides extensive information about the Audit method and its process of gathering and analyzing data. The Guide’s templates, illustrations and worksheets outline the Safety Audit’s philosophical underpinnings, clarify the data collection steps and methodologies, and provide a knowledge base for the team’s work.
- Partners in a CCR program can come from all relevant sectors, both public and private. Although each community is different, key sectors to consider include:
- Advocacy organizations
- Employers and unions
- Faith groups and traditional leaders
- Government departments or ministries
- Health care providers
- Law enforcement
- Legal system – judges, prosecutors, court staff, etc.
- Men’s groups
- Social service providers
- Youth groups
- In a pilot project for a domestic violence community response program in Queensland, Australia, for example, partners included the Brisbane City Council, Department of Families, Department of Justice and Attorney General, Department of Corrective Services, Police Service, Office of Women’s Policy, Family Court of Australia, Domestic Violence Resource Centre, Combined Women’s Refuge Group, Women’s Legal Service, Lord Mayors Women’s Liaison Group, and the Immigrant Women’s Support Service. See: Coordinated Community Response to Domestic Violence (CCR) Wynnum Pilot Project. In Eritrea, a national coordinating task force on FGM included representatives from the Ministry of Health, National Union of Eritrean Women, National Union of Eritrean Youth and Students, Ministry of information, and local heads of government social service. See: Campaign Against Female Genital Mutilation, UN Secretary-General’s database on violence against women.
CASE STUDY – Andhra Pradesh, India
In India, the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act requires each state to institute a protection officer system to assist victims of domestic violence. Implementation of this provision has been particularly effective in the state of Andhra Pradesh, based on a strong inter-agency coordination program initiated by the police. The police, legal aid groups, protection officers, and other civil society service providers have developed clear guidelines and agreements for interagency coordination. Accordingly, when a case of domestic violence is reported to the police, the woman generally is referred to a protection officer who then gives appropriate referrals to service agencies. Legal aid lawyers provide free legal services for victims who need that assistance. A related factor in the success of the Andhra Pradesh system is that the state government allocates more funds than any other Indian state to implementation of the domestic violence law. See: Press Release, Centre for Social Research (2009); Domestic Violence: Legislation and its Implementation, 44-45, UNIFEM (2009).