US Embassy funds campaign on gender based violence in Balochistan

Islamabad: In a collaborative effort to combat the pervasive issue of gender-based violence (GBV), Balochistan Police has been implementing a pioneering awareness and advocacy campaign. The initiative is funded by the U.S. Embassy’s Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) and implemented with the technical support of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). As part of awareness raising activities, Balochistan Police in conjunction with the U.S. Embassy’s Office of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement (INL) and UNODC organized a flagship seminar on Wednesday, 24th of April 2024 at Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University in Quetta that successfully concluded the campaign, said in a UNODC press release issued here Thursday.

The seminar brought together experts from law enforcement, academia, and civil society to speak to a large gathering of young and enthusiastic female students with the purpose to inspire them to champion social change to combat gender-based violence in Balochistan. The event was presided over by the Minister for Education, Government of Balochistan, Ms. Raheela Hameed Durani who emphasized the importance of proactive measures to combat gender-based violence, highlighting the need for universities to play a crucial role in empowering young women.

Other key stakeholders included Deputy Inspector General of Police Balochistan, Mr. Qamar-ul-Hassan, Vice Chancellor SBK, Prof. Dr. Sajida Noreen, Chairperson Provincial Commission on Status of Women, Balochistan, Ms. Fozia Shaheen and SP, Quetta Police and In-Charge Women and Juvenile Faciliation Centre, Ms. Pari Gul Tareen. The main focus was on empowering youth, particularly adolescent girls, by sensitizing them to identify and confront gender stereotypes to address causes of gender-based violence in their daily lives, and motivate them to pursue careers as women police officers in Balochistan. Partnering with the Sardar Bahadur Khan Women’s University and Government Girls Postgraduate College in Quetta, Balochistan Police and UNODC had also conducted two interactive awareness sessions on March 27 and 28, 2024, respectively. These sessions successfully brought together accomplished women police officers, psychologists, academics, and gender experts to engage and encourage female students to come forward and support GBV survivors through empathy and respect.

The objective was to empower young girls through knowledge of cultural and structural prejudices to address the causes of GBV. Dissemination through social media and printed materials further helped to amplify key messages among wider audience. The campaign also highlighted the importance of immediate assistance for survivors of gender-based violence and the services available at the Women and Juvenile Facilitation Centre (WJFC) in Quetta. Ms. Pari Gul Tareen, SP, Quetta, said, “Gender-based violence thrives in silence and ignorance. Our aim is to create awareness and a supportive environment for GBV survivors to ensure reporting of GBV to relevant authorities and the delivery ofnecessary assistance.”

The UNODC reassures its continued commitment towards preventing gender-based violence within communities through awareness raising, establishing reporting mechanisms especially for women and increasing the capacity of first responders. Nonetheless, women’s rights and freedoms are essential to building strong, resilient societies which can only be achieved through a whole-of-society approach. This initiative represents a significant step towards fostering a culture of understanding, respect and empathy towards addressing the issue of gender-based violence in Balochistan.