Implementation of a Coordinated Community Response

last updated March 2015

In partnership with UN Women, The Advocates for Human Rights created the following sections for UN Women’s Virtual Knowledge Centre to End Violence against Women and Girls. This section, along with sections addressing other forms of violence against women and girls, may be found under Legislation at www.endvawnow.org.

Implementation of a coordinated community response

Legislation should include the following strategies in order to achieve an effective coordinated community response:

·         Ensure survivor safety as the primary and central concern through an effective police response, emergency orders for protection and access to emergency shelter;

·         Mandate crisis intervention services (hotlines, legal advocacy, medical care, financial and housing assistance);

·     Provide for an effective and coordinated justice system response, including an appropriate and timely police response, appropriate prosecutorial and judicial response, coordination of information among all legal actors and victim advocates, and enforcement of orders for protection;

·         Provide for an appropriate response to abusers, which consistently holds them accountable, including arrest and appropriate sanctions;

·      Provide for follow-up services for complainant/survivors such as counseling, support groups, services for children, abuser treatment services, assistance with employment, housing, health care and child care;

·         Mandate training of personnel in all systems; and

·        Include provisions that mandate coordination and monitoring of interventions such as advisory committees or councils, court watch, data collection and reporting, and accountability systems.

(Goals and Strategies of Interventions, StopVAW)   

CASE STUDY: Engaging traditional leaders in combating domestic violence in Cameroon

Gender-based violence in Cameroon is manifested by sexual violence, harmful practices, and domestic violence. Women in Cameroon experience physical and psychological domestic violence on a regular basis. This violence is the result of a belief in women’s subordinate status, the shame involved in reporting the violence, and the lack of an effective state response to the violence.  In 2007, a Cameroonian NGO, The Centre for Human Rights and Peace Advocacy (CHRAPA), sponsored by The UN Trust Fund in Support of Actions to Eliminate Violence Against Women, UNIFEM, began a multi-level project to address these concerns. The project consisted of:  establishing a program of legal assistance to victims; educating the public and certain target groups such as police, women’s group leaders, and traditional authorities; endeavoring to pass a draft law against gender-based violence; and carrying out a baseline survey in the project area in order to obtain statistics on VAW, including its forms, frequency, and perpetrators.

The project team employed a participatory management system which involved all of the stakeholders in planning their roles to execute the project. This created an informed and vested group of stakeholders who supported the goals of the project. Stakeholder involvement by one group in particular was found to create a positive outcome. A Network of Traditional Authorities, or fons, was formed. These area chiefs determined strategies to end gender-based violence in their area and implemented restitution for victims of gender-based violence. Project managers reported that these traditional authorities, who were once the custodians of violent practices against women, are now calling upon their communities to refrain from these practices. The fons have continued to hold traditional meetings to raise awareness, to monitor achievements, and to deal with cases of abuse. Violence against women is a regular agenda item at these traditional meetings, and CHRAPA keeps the fons up-to-date on issues of violence against women.

See the section of this Module on Implementation of Laws.

 Example: Poland’s “Safer Together” program to implement its National Programme Against Domestic Violence. “Safer Together” calls for improving cooperation between organizations to assist victims and aims to develop a consistent system of procedures to exchange information among all entities involved in counteracting domestic violence.

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Southern Africa and the South Africa Department of Social Development created one-stop service centres for domestic violence victims and their children. These centres integrate government and community services to provide aid to victims and to promote prevention programs, including radio shows, school programs, and work with young male prison inmates. (“Project Counters Domestic Violence in South Africa,” UNODC Update No. 4 (2005))