On 26th September, one hundred and twenty two judiciary police officers of the Congolese National Police Force graduated from an innovative program being run by ICMHD to help fight gender based violence and HIV/AIDS in the DRC. These training sessions, organised in Bukavu (South Kivu) and in Kinshasa respond to the growing problem of HIV and sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict situations. While the problem is a global one, the situation in the DRC has become an especially serious and has elicited expressions of concern by the UN Secretary General.
Observers have often identified military personnel and police as part of the problem, but at ICMHD we believe that soldiers and police can and must be part of the solution. Over the past three years, research undertaken with the military and police in the DRC suggests that many officers are not only aware of the problem, but are eager to seek solutions to it. With support from UNAIDS, ICMHD has thus been inviting military and police personnel to take part in surveys of their own knowledge about and attitudes to GBV and HIV, and then come up with solutions they can help to put in place.
Systematic and more intensive training on the medical, legal and human rights aspects of HIV and GBV is one of the areas that has been identified for action. Graduation day is always an impressive and moving event. Soldiers and police leave the program with a new understanding about two of the world’s most pressing public health and human rights challenges. They also leave with a new and vitalized commitment to fighting these life-threatening problems, and knowing that they are part of a generation of men and women helping to make the world a safer and healthier place to live in.