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The Possibilities of Gender Mainstreaming Social Policy on Family Violence in Hong Kong Dr. Leung Lai Ching 6 November 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "The Possibilities of Gender Mainstreaming Social Policy on Family Violence in Hong Kong Dr. Leung Lai Ching 6 November 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Possibilities of Gender Mainstreaming Social Policy on Family Violence in Hong Kong Dr. Leung Lai Ching 6 November 2009

2 Objective of the study The main objective of this study is to identify and understand the difficulties of and opportunities for gender mainstreaming the domestic violence policy in Hong Kong and to develop policy alternatives in local context.

3 Term Use Domestic violence vs. family violence Violence against women by known men is not a family or private matter. The abuser and the abused may not have legally married. Violence often continue after the relationship ended.

4 Methods Documenting the experiences of some international organizations on gender mainstreaming. Conducting in-depth interviews of abused women, frontline professionals and policy makers.

5 Documentation We have documented the experiences of some international organisations on gender mainstreaming such as the Council of Europe, United Nations and World Health Organisation, to understand the pre-requisites and implementation strategies of gender mainstreaming domestic violence policy in western countries.

6 The main areas that have been reviewed including: (1) political views and policy plan; (2) funds and human resources commitment; (3) legal and judicial procedures; (4) protection and services supports; (5) public education; (6) research activities.

7 Also reviewed domestic violence policies in Hong Kong such as legal documents, Policy Address papers, Public Budget and government documents on measures and actions tackling family violence since 2004.

8 Experiences of Abused Women We have interviewed 20 abused women to understand their experiences in encountering different professionals when facing domestic violence, in particular social workers and police. The interviewees were referred by social service agencies and women’s organizations such as survivor’s self-help group, shelters for battered women, crisis center, family service centres and community centres.

9 Inter-professional co-ordination and collaboration We have conducted individual in-depth interviews to frontline police officers, social workers from FCPSU, IFSC, women’s refugee shelters, medical social worker, and Social Security officer. In total, we have conducted 17 in-depth interviews and all these interviews have been transcribed

10 Existing Policy Practices Besides collecting the views of front-line workers, we have also interviewed 9 policy makers including the officials from the Labour and Welfare Bureau, Social Welfare Department, Housing Department, Department of Justice, and the Police Force. From the interviews, we are able to understand the issues from a wider perspective and policy level.

11 Findings

12 Seeking Help From the Police Evidence in this study shows that the experiences of abused women in seeking help from the police were not satisfactory. When the abused women reported to the police for being abused by their husband, the police tended to view arrests as low priority and not their ‘real’ work, or discouraged abused women to file their complaints

13 The police had put less effort to enforce the law and prosecute the perpetrators as a result. The problem is associated with the attitudes and values of the police namely: (1) tend to treat woman abuse as an individual problem rather than a criminal behaviour, (2) to regard domestic violence as a family dispute, (3) misunderstand the nature of marriage, and (4) lack of gender sensitivity in handling the cases.

14 Seeking Help From Social Workers Abused women also had difficulties in seeking help from social workers. A number of survivors reported in this study that they received inadequate support and empathy from social workers. It is largely due to the bias attitudes of the social workers on abused women, in particular those from Mainland China, in handling processes.

15 It is largely due to the bias attitudes of the social workers on abused women in the handling processes: (1) social workers may think that the abused women, in particular those come from Mainland China, misuse the public money, (2) they think that abusers also suffered from the domestic violence issue, (3) social workers pay more attention to the welfare of children, (4) they lack of gender sensitivity in handling the cases.

16 Pressure of Front-line Workers Findings of this study also show that the front- line workers including social workers and the police face a lot of pressure due to the upsurge of domestic violence cases in Hong Kong in recent years. The pressure mainly caused by the inadequate resource input from the government, the lack of coordination among different professionals and the loopholes in the existing policy.

17 Some front-line workers expressed frustration and low motivation in handling processes.

18 Views of Policy Makers Not only the front-line workers, some policy makers appeared not to have clear understanding about the domestic violence issue. Most of the policy makers who had been interviewed in this study did not take violence against women at home as a gender issue or human right issue but family issue.

19 There was no sign of a comprehensive or inter-disciplinary approach to be adopted to combat the issue.

20 Barriers to gender mainstream domestic violence policy The lack of gender sensitivity of the policy makers. Inadequate resource input and service coordination. Lack of high ranking coordinating body to plan, to assess, to monitor and to evaluate the policy and practices on domestic violence in Hong Kong.

21 Policy Implications and Recommendations

22 Root Problem of the Issue First, this research has identified the root causes of the problem and has suggested a clear direction and comprehensive approach to combat domestic violence in Hong Kong. Violence against women, whether by strangers or family members, is a cause and consequence of gender inequality and an act that violated basic human right. Therefore, both social service provision and law protection are needed to deal with the problem.

23 Policy Strategies Second, the study suggests some strategies on how the gender and equality dimension can be taken into account in domestic violence policies and activities; in the planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation phases. For example:

24 (1) to adopt the definition, the policy framework and practice guidelines that suggested by the international organizations such as the United Nations, the World Health Organization and the Council of Europe. (2) to work out a comprehensive approach to set up a high ranking coordinating body to establish a Plan of Action for combating and preventing domestic violence in Hong Kong.

25 (3) to improve the central data collection and the information dissemination systems on domestic violence cases. (4) to strengthen the communication and collaboration between the government and the NGOs in order to pull more resources to combat on the issue.

26 Improvement for Existing Practices Third, the problems in existing practices of inter-professional co-ordination and collaboration in handling domestic violence cases have been identified, that helps to improve the service coordination among different social service organizations and the communication between social workers and the police.

27 For example, to set up a crisis intervention team with the collaboration of police and social workers to handle crisis situation. With the mutual support from each other, social workers will feel more secure in a crisis situation, and the police will not confuse their role in the crime scene.

28 Training of Front-line Workers Fourth, findings of this study provide direction and focus for the training of front- line workers in the future. For example, to increase gender sensitivity training for front-line workers so that they will be more sensitive to the needs and problems of abused women when dealing with domestic violence cases.

29 Checklist Fifth, a checklist has been developed for policy branches and government departments as a tool to assess and monitor the policy and practices in handling domestic violence cases. In the checklist, 12 major areas have been identified that help the government officials to review their practices. A comprehensive guideline and explanatory notes are provided in order to help the concern parties to fill in the checklist

30 Thank You

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