New centre to fight family violence opens in Afghanistan with UN help

A new family centre that will help Afghan police counter the growing violence against women and children opened its operations in Kabul this week with the help of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).The agency has given the Afghan National Police a fully furnished container office to run the Family Response Unit. The first of its kind in this war-torn nation, the unit is attached to Kabul’s District 10 police station and lets Afghan society’s most vulnerable citizens receive the confidentiality they need when reporting crimes.With a reception area, a bathroom and two interview rooms, the unit is staffed by Afghan policewomen and situated so complainants can enter without having to pass by the policemen usually present at the station’s entrance.The Afghan policewomen – who will deal with violence against women, family violence, children in trouble and kidnappings – received training from the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA).“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 unit’s opening ceremony on Sunday. “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.” The agency provided the unit with an emergency mobile phone number for all people seeking help on family-related crimes. It plans to set up more units when funds become available.

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