NIGER –The Republic of the Niger has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) to train emergency teams on prevention and timely responses to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.
Senegalese urology surgeon Dr Médina NDoye has co-facilitated training on gender-based violence that the World Health Organization organized in Niamey, Niger in ongoing efforts to challenge gender-based issues such as gender bias.
The 10-day workshop held in Niamey saw the attendance and participation of 150 members of surge teams from Niger, Mauritania and Togo including epidemiologists, health specialists, veterinarians, firefighters, police officers and other civil servants from various ministries.
The emergency teams were trained on gender-based violence and how to prevent and report on sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment by the gender-based violence prevention coordinators.
According to WHO, sexual exploitation refers to any actual or attempted abuse of position of vulnerability, differential power or trust for sexual purposes.
The international public health agency highlighted that sexual abuse means the actual or threatened physical intrusion of a sexual nature, whether by force or under unequal or coercive conditions.
Going forward, all SURGE team members signed a Code of Conduct to prevent sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment. Efforts to introduce gender-based violence and PRSEAH at government levels are also ongoing.
The training exercise organized in Niger is part of WHO’s surge project to improve the capacity of all Member States in the African region to better prepare, detect and respond to public health emergencies.
Furthermore, the integrated training on gender-based violence prevention and response to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment is in line with the WHO’s “zero tolerance policy” for sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.
The training workshop will further build on WHO’s ongoing efforts to curb violence against women and girls highlighted within its Global Plan of Action as well as its minimum commitment to provide services to gender-based violence survivors through the Health Cluster.
WHO Africa Regional Coordinator for the Prevention and Response to Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Harassment Francesca Paola Crabu said that working closely with communities is a key component of emergency teams’ interventions which rely on trust between health experts and communities.
“If the relationship of trust between health experts and communities is broken through sexual abuse and exploitation, it causes further harm to already-vulnerable populations and creates barriers. Ultimately, it hinders emergency teams’ ability to aid,” Francesca Paola Crabu further said.
Subsequently, WHO is currently conducting massive sensitization within communities and continuous learning events through the designation of community focal points that are safe and culturally accepted “bridge” between communities and WHO and the humanitarian system.
Women-led organizations, religious leaders and various officials at schools and universities have also been trained to help WHO raise awareness among communities about the six Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s principles on the prevention and response to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment.
“Additionally, every WHO staff who is to be deployed for either an emergency or general work mission now must participate in a training session on preventing and responding to sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment,” WHO reveals.
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