8th Annual Colloquium of the ICPC “The safety of Women”

This was an extremely successful event. Well attended with over 250 delegates from all over the globe, the Colloquium featured presentations of very high standards that summarized projects and policies to do with advances in this critical area.
Central to the South American presentations was the concept of “machismo” where males assume that the repression and exploitation of women is part of being a “real” man.
Jose Alfredo Botello Montes, Secretary of State in Queretero in his opening address pointed to significant changes with regard to the status of women in Mexico that have led to a gradual change to legal and other approaches to create a rule of law that offers real protection to the most vulnerable in Mexican society.
Mexico has a population of 103 million, with women outnumbering men by approximately 2 million. 50% of women are under the age of 25 years. 40% of divorces are initiated by women, with the Mexican divorce rate being around 20%. 50% of women surveyed report being assaulted by their spouse, while 50% of female homicides occur in domestic relationships.
ICPC Director General Valerie Sagant in her key note address spoke of women's safety as “a shared global concern” and described violence against women a violation of basic human rights. She clearly pointed out that in some parts of the world violence against women involves 66% of the female population and that this includes phenomena such as human trafficking as well as domestic violence. There is a need, Valerie argued, to further analyse male domination models as the vulnerability of women is almost always linked to a lack of social status. A lack of education opportunities illustrates how women are often repressed by male dominated societies. Aboriginal women around the globe are therefore particularly vulnerable.

Valerie outlined 4 objectives of the Colloquium:
1.    To make violence against women visible
2.    Make violence against women easier to identify an describe (e.g. ask Police to keep more effective statistics)
3.    Avoid the “some evil men” syndrome Men and boys need to redefine their roles in relationships.
4.    Reinforce a collective approach in communities to dealing with violence.

Professor Caroline Moser of the University of Manchester's School of Environment and Development argues that women's safety should be mainstreamed at the policy level by Governments at all levels as the ultimate goal of the women's safety is to establish gender equality. She spoke of the phenomenon of “policy evaporation” where there is no implementation after resources are expended in the development of government policy and “policy invisibilation” where no resources are put into the evaluation of programmes to establish and maintain effective practice. She also expressed the view that in particular Latin American countries rarely enforce innovative anti-violence legislation.
I was pleased to be invited to act as raporteur for a session entitled “Building effective partnerships for women's safety”. An indication of the breadth of the Colloquium input, the session featured presentations from Lilianna Rainero, a feminist activist from Latin America, Mercedes Amples, a Deputy Police Commissioner from Nicaragua, Cookie Edwards, a social activist from South Africa and Elizabetha Bozhkova from Russia. All four argued that partnerships:
•    build influence and effective change,
•    that partnerships increase the capacity for change,
•    that they open doors to awareness raising,
•    overcome political indifference
•    encourage local communities to participate
•    build trust
•    create and maintain enthusiasm

All agreed that Police and Local Government are critical to progress as is civil society the media, and the education system.
Other topics addressed by participants included:
•    “Understanding the realities of violence against women”
•    “Creating safe and inclusive communities for women”
•    “Women's leadership, the role of women in crime prevention”
•    “The role of cities and local government in women's safety”
•    “Key developments and Principal challenges at the International level”
All papers are available on the ICPC website in English, French and Spanish as is the Colloquium companion volume “Women's Safety a shared Global concern: Compendium of practices and policies”

This Colloquium was an extraordinary event in bringing together the very best practitioners and theorists from around the world and demonstrates the ICPC's increasing capacity to lead world opinion and practice in this and other critical crime prevention and community safety debates.

Andrew Paterson
Executive Board Member ICPC
Public Officer/Secretary ACPC
February 2008

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