ISLAMABAD, Jun 20 (APP):The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) had joined hands with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and UN Women to launch a series of webinars on Gender and Shadow Pandemic as part of a joint Virtual Advocacy Campaign (VAC) on COVID-19 mitigation measures.

The first webinar of the series was curated with support from the stakeholders of the Criminal Justice Institutions through a virtual exchange on “Reporting and Underreporting of Sexual and Gender Based Violence: Gender Responsive Policing” in collaboration with the provincial Police Departments, said a press received here.

Inaugurating the webinar, Jeremy Milsom, Country Representative, UNODC Pakistan emphasized on the ominous nature of the ‘shadow pandemic’ that intensifies gender-based violence and said “UNODC is committed to support, strengthen and implement gender responsive policing reforms to address the magnified nature of Gender Based Violence in Pakistan.”

Ms. Lina Mousa, Country Representative, UNFPA Pakistan remarked “Pre-existing vulnerabilities that subject women and girls to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence are further exacerbated during a pandemic.

In this regard, UNFPA has been actively supporting the government departments and the NDMA, with a specific focus on vulnerable segments of the society such as women, children and people living with disabilities.”

Aisha Mukhtar, Country Representative a.i., UN Women Pakistan highlighted, “Vulnerable populations experience the COVID-19 outbreak differently, which is likely to reinforce their marginalized position in society.

Their experience of discrimination, violence and stigma further limits their access to essential support and services and increases their risk of experiencing violence. Our collective efforts will ensure that no-one is left behind in the response to COVID-19.”

The webinar brought together a diverse mix of eminent speakers and stakeholders, including legal policy, human rights, gender and empowerment experts. Barrister Benazir Jatoi and Gender Expert Nazish Brohi highlighted the trends in the reporting of GBV crimes influenced by the societal power structures, traditional mindsets and challenges of pre-trial reporting on violence against women to seek justice from the criminal justice institutions.

Senior leadership from provincial police departments included Abdul Khalique Shaikh, Additional Inspector General of Police, Sindh; Muhammad Ali Babakhel, Deputy Inspector General of Police; Tariq Abbas Qureshi, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Punjab; Dr. Farhan Zahid, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Balochistan.

Taking stock of the issues surrounding gender responsive policing, it was mutually agreed by all among other recommendations that partnerships with civil society, evidence-based initiatives informed by the relevant data, institutional reforms, awareness raising and sensitization, targeting the public, particularly women educating them on their rights as well as capacity building of the police as front-line responders, including induction of women police at all levels will act as a force multiplier to tackle the unprecedented nature of the pandemic.

This Virtual Advocacy Campaign is curated by the UNODC Country Office, Pakistan as a COVID-response initiative to support the Criminal Justice Institutions in Pakistan.