By Amy Lieberman
Friday, October 22, 2010
Wallstrom, the U.N.'s point person on sexual violence in conflict, returned last week from the scene of a mass rape attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo. She is determined to launch a new type of sexual-violence training for peacekeepers.
UNITED NATIONS (WOMENSENEWS)--Margot Wallstrom, the U.N. special representative on sexual violence in conflict, returned last week from the scene of a recent mass rape attack in the Democratic Republic of Congo sounding resolved to change the way U.N. peacekeepers are trained.
Following the attacks, U.N. authorities have faulted peacekeepers for not investigating warning signs, such as village roadways that perpetrators had blocked off to entrap the victims and prevent peacekeepers from reaching them.
To avoid repeating such errors, Wallstrom said in a recent interview that next year the U.N. will start providing something called scenario-based training on sexual violence for U.N. peacekeepers.
The practice, now being developed, is designed to prepare thousands of peacekeepers in police units for the increasing use of sexual violence as a tactic of war. The peacekeepers will participate in full-fledged role playing, responding to actors playing the part of victims of sexual or gender-based violence.
They may also be taught how to intervene in dangerous situations, how to talk to victims and make them feel safe and to know where the nearest medical clinic is, says Lee Woodyear, a U.N. Department of Peacekeeping spokesperson.
Peacekeepers presently undergo this kind of re-intervention training for handling hostages and mines.
"We are working on this now and using a consultant to see what are the best kinds of practices and how they can be applie