Project Update: Combating Violence Against Women & Girls in the Pacific (ICAAD)

The Sikh community has stood against inequality innumerable times in history, and we must continue today to actively defy bigotry and violence directed at vulnerable communities. The struggle for justice and equality is unyielding, and, thanks to the support of the Dasvandh Network community in 2017, ICAAD is able to fight back against the systemic forces that further discrimination. We would like to highlight our progress on the Combating Violence Against Women & Girls in the Pacific project, and give you insight into goals for this year.

COMBATING VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN & GIRLS IN THE PACIFIC

Highlights of work in 2017:

  1. Writing a Report to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) on behalf of a consortium of NGOs in Fiji. Based on the Report, the CEDAW committee gave an 8 page list of questions to Fiji to respond to in 2018 on a variety of issues from access to justice for women and girls facing gender-based violence (GBV) to education of rural women. This Report will be a tool for driving legal reforms in Fiji for years.
  2. ICAAD continued to make tremendous progress on its rule of law initiatives in the Pacific, traveling to Australia, Vanuatu, Niue, and Fiji this year. This included working directly with judiciaries, universities, women’s rights organizations, law firms, and technologists to advance transparency, accountability, and consistency in gender-based violence (GBV) cases. Working directly with Chief Justices, ICAAD was able to gain access to domestic violence and sexual offence cases that were previously unpublished.
  3.  ICAAD organised the first ever train the trainers workshop to raise awareness on sexual harassment in the workplace, in partnership with The Fiji Women’s Rights Movement (FWRM). Participants were from key civil society and government sectors and expressed a significant shift in their knowledge of harassment, and their ability to train others.

Next steps:

  1.  Release a Sentencing Handbook on gender-based violence (GBV) for legal practitioners, judges, and activists in the Pacific. The Handbook is currently being drafted in conjunction with attorneys in London from international law firm Clifford Chance LLP, and covers a practical perspective to sentencing, analysis of cases, and common gender-biases that arise in cases.
  2. Scale our GBV case-law analysis for the Pacific Island region in partnership with major international law firms, and release TrackGBV, a case law data analysis platform for GBV. We’ve been working with partner Conduent to build TrackGBV and automate some of the analysis so that advocates can spend their time analyzing more substantive issues and see trends in case law as legislative and policy changes are made.
  3. In partnership with DLA Piper, ICAAD is producing a Medico-Legal training program to train medical professionals to better document, collect evidence, and testify in Court, as well as to upskill prosecutors’ understanding of medical testimony so that they can better present their cases. The gap in medico-legal training has been identified by several local stakeholders, including the Fiji Medical Association, as a major obstacle to delivery of justice for victims/survivors of gender based crimes.

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