Afghan women entering the new family centre.
UNITED NATIONS, New York — A new centre that deals with family violence, children in trouble, and female victims of crime started its operations in Kabul on Sunday, 22 January. The Family Response Unit is the first of its kind in Afghanistan, where violence against women and children is so common that it has become a serious public health problem.
Housed in a fully furnished container office provided by UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, the unit is attached to Kabul’s District 10 police station. The facility consists of a reception area, a bathroom and two interview rooms. The unit’s location allows complainants to access it without having to pass by policemen often present at the station’s entrance, which helps in maintaining victims’ confidentiality. UNFPA has also provided the unit with an emergency mobile phone number available for men, women and children seeking help and advice on family related crimes.
The unit was set up by the Afghan National Police. The Afghan policewomen, who will staff the unit, have received training by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan on methods to address family violence.
The new unit will allow policewomen to react to violence against women, family violence, children in trouble, and kidnappings. They will also be able to interrogate, detain and investigate female suspects; provide support to female victims of crime and ensure the security of women in communities.
“Traditional thinking dictates that most women, children and other vulnerable groups within the family accept physical and emotional violence as a normal part of life,” said David Saunders, UNFPA Representative in Afghanistan, during the opening ceremony. “It is not normal! It is a matter of power and a lack of accountability. This Family Response Unit should become a symbol of hope in the community.”
UNFPA plans to establish more units around Kabul and other provinces once funds become available.
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