During the week of 18 July 2022, the Council of Europe provided training to 46 hotline operators, psychologists, psychiatrists and social work specialists throughout Ukraine to support sexual violence victims’ access to gender-sensitive and victim-centred social, psychological, medical and legal assistance.
The on-line sessions, “Professional training for provision of services to victims of sexual violence in conflict with particular focus on women and girls” were designed to consider the needs of internally displaced persons, and specifically women during periods of war.
Over the course of four days, participants discussed promising gender-sensitive and victim-centred practices to provide assistance to victims of sexual violence during military conflict. Considering the experiences of other countries, participants examined long-term consequences of wartime sexual violence, involvement of the community in overcoming these traumatic events and long-term opportunities to support and communicate with victims. Participants were trained on relevant norms in international law including the Istanbul Convention, existing assistance protocols for victims, and inter-entity support system coordination under martial law.
The training participants gained practical skills on communication between specialists and victims, and on methods to stabilise victims and prevent burnout among specialists working with victims, as well as to conduct surveys and record violations of the law.
The weeklong training was evaluated very highly by the participants, who stated that it helped them to structure information and gain new knowledge and practical skills for their work with victims of gender-based violence.
A follow-up publication is currently in development and will be made available for wider professional use in Ukraine.
The training was organised by the Council of Europe project “Combating violence against women in Ukraine (COVAW)” in partnership with the National Social Service of Ukraine.