Understanding, Identification, and Care of Sexual Violence Victims in a Humanitarian Context
“Recently, we conducted a survey among our employees to estimate the level of their knowledge of sexual violence within mixed migration contexts. Based on detailed analysis of the opinions, overall knowledge, and experience, the data showed that there was a need to deliver the training on sexual violence firstly to health staff and other younger staff ages 18–25, followed by support and program staff in all age and gender groups," pointed out Dr. Marko Isajlović, DRC Medical Advisor.
A two-day long training course titled "Understanding, Identification, and Care of Sexual Violence Victims in a Humanitarian Context" was organised shortly after the survey for the DRC and Red Cross Society employees with the overall objective of establishing a common understanding of sexual violence by analyzing root causes, contributing factors, risk factors, and consequences.
"The training course provided a platform to present the scope of sexual violence in the world and in the humanitarian context, to brief on the basic medical care available to victims, and to discuss participants' personal beliefs about sexual violence. Training was primarily interactive in nature, engaging participants to learn practical skills needed for the provision of adequate care, with a special focus on recognising the types of sexual violence and getting familiar with the current referral pathway for sexual violence victims in Bosnia and Herzegovina," says Dr. Isajlović.
A total of 37 participants successfully completed the training, of whom 86% expressed that they would be more than comfortable providing immediate care to sexual violence victims upon completion of the training, and 97% of participants stated that they would recommend the training to their colleagues
Limited knowledge about Gender-Based Violence among migrants
DRC made a step forward when our Protection Teams, operating at the entry points of Bosnia and Herzegovina, conducted a short survey among newly arrived migrants to assess their awareness of gender-based violence, emphasising sexual violence against women, and measures to prevent and sanction this kind of violence. Although their destination is EU countries, where laws are written in accordance with numerous conventions that protect human rights, the respondents, primarily men, were not aware of their existence except for the general information that women in Europe enjoy more rights than in their countries of origin.
"So far, the DRC has provided support to 144 survivors of gender-based violence, of whom 105 were women, girls, or members of the LGBT population. With our partner organisations and state institutions, we have established referral mechanism to recognise and strengthen a timely and adequate response to this kind of violence. The women we talked to were more aware of this issue, and 100% of the interviewed women would report violence if they experienced it or witnessed it. However, most men would not report this type of violence, citing that ‘they are focused on continuing their journey’, ‘that time is short’, ‘that it is not their job’... These attitudes were mainly expressed by men who traveled alone, while men who traveled with a female family member stated that they would definitely report violence," emphasised Mirjana Nešić, a GBV officer.
People who would report violence stated that, besides help with the language barriers, they would need the support of the humanitarian organisations even to be taken seriously by the state institutions. They also expect greater activity from the non-governmental sector in raising the awareness of migrants about gender-based violence against women and the tools of the system to prevent it, as well as solidarity towards victims.