UNHCR Malta organised an interactive, three-day training course on the topic of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), examining the scope of the problem in Malta and the international and national legal frameworks. The training was delivered by Asel Ormonova (UNHCR Ukraine) and Noelia Diaz (UNHCR Switzerland).
Issue/challenge and goal/assumption
SGBV encompasses a wide range of issues, including domestic and sexual violence, female genital mutilation, arranged and forced marriage, as well as violence against men. In Malta, these issues are experienced both by locals and by the resident migrant population. Long-standing cultural issues contribute to the problem.
In 2015, the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (A!enzija Appo!!) recorded around 1,000 cases of domestic violence. There are significant problems with collecting data in Malta related to SGBV, which makes it difficult to quantify the extent of the issue. There are also issues with awareness of some SGBV topics and services provided for victims. Prosecution of perpetrators is widely recognised as a problem, especially when it comes to human trafficking, and protection of victims is also considered insufficient.
For migrants in Malta, there are specific issues which can be contributing factors to SGBV or barriers to reporting or asking for help. These include a lack of information on the provision of basic services, language barriers and lack of interpretation services, a stigma on reporting, and fear of the police and deportation.
The aim of this training course was to examine the existing international and national legal framework for protection of victims and the prevention and prosecution of SGBV, as well as to assess the gaps in this regard.
How does it work
The course aimed to provide participants with knowledge of different approaches when working with victims of SGBV. It also encouraged participants to critique the referral mechanisms in place and discuss how to improve such systems in order to better support and protect victims of SGBV.
The training included a range of presentations from Maltese stakeholders and service providers, such as a lawyer with the Women’s Rights Foundation and social workers from the government Foundation for Social Welfare Services and UNHCR Malta. Moreover, the training involved various interactive activities, such as discussion of case studies, brainstorming, quizzes, and group work on developing ideas and strategies to improve how Malta deals with SGBV. There were several question and answer sessions throughout the training, and participants were given many opportunities to give both oral and written feedback.
The training covered numerous topics including:
- Root causes of SGBV (such as gender inequality, disrespect for human rights, and deep-rooted beliefs)
- Contributing factors such as displacement and lack of education
- Consequences of SGBV, like isolation and mental health issues
- How to develop protection programmes that include safe access to basic needs; access to justice; and economic, educational, and social opportunities which reduce economic dependency
- Key approaches for working with victims of SGBV (rights-based approach; survivor-centred approach; community-based approach; and age, gender, and diversity approaches)
- Importance of, and mechanisms for, monitoring and evaluation
- Domestic violence, arranged and forced marriage, human trafficking, female genital mutilation, and violence against men
According to feedback collected throughout the three days of training, participants finished the training with an increased knowledge of the different types of SGBV and how better to respond to victims’ needs. The training allowed for the establishment of a network of contacts to improve coordination and cooperation amongst stakeholders and to exchange ideas and best practices.
The organisers collected written evaluations at the end of each day, with a longer evaluation collected at the end of the course. There was also the opportunity for participants to give oral feedback to a representative throughout the training. This evaluation was then shared with participants a few weeks after completion of the training.
Participants thought that the training was well prepared, well structured, and highly informative. The interactive elements of the training were welcomed, with participants stating that this increased learning and provoked challenging discussion. Participants felt that the training was useful and would help them in their daily work with victims and potential victims.
Some attendees stated that they would have welcomed more practical and field examples of working with victims of SGBV and more time spent on identification indicators. Some stated that it would have been useful and engaging to have direct experiences shared by migrant victims of SGBV. Participants also stated that it would have been useful to have a wider range of stakeholders represented at the training, such as health service workers, to provide information about services offered but also to participate and improve their service.
Participants noted that more extensive training would be welcome, especially trainings that cover individual topics in greater detail. Each day’s session was long and covered many topics, meaning that it was quite intense and information-heavy. More training days at a shorter duration for each day would allow more time for individual topics.
Who will benefit?
The direct target group for this training were the stakeholders in attendance, which included those who encounter victims or potential victims in their work. Participants included NGO workers, staff from IOM and UNHCR, staff from the Office of the Refugee Commissioner and the Agency for the Welfare of Asylum Seekers (including those working in reception centres), staff from the Victim Support Unit of the Police, social workers, and some members of migrant communities.
The indirect target group were victims and potential victims of SGBV who will benefit from an increased knowledge and awareness of SGBV topics and improved protection programmes that could be developed or changed following the training.
Source of funding and Resources used
The course was organised and funded by UNHCR. Two UNHCR staff members conducted the trainings, with talks and activities led by various experts in law, social work, etc.
- UNHCR Malta
- Annalisa Mantelli and Paolo Biondi (UNHCR Malta)
- Protection and Registration Assistants