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Commonwealth launches training for bystanders to spot abuse

by Sonia Elks | @SoniaElks | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 6 March 2020 19:14 GMT

Among those who can take part in training are medical staff, teachers or locksmiths

By Sonia Elks

LONDON, March 6 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - From nurses to taxi drivers, people across the Commonwealth will be offered training on how to spot signs of domestic abuse under a plan launched on Friday, aimed at creating a network of skilled bystanders to intervene and support victims.

The project aims to reach and train people in positions to act and help those who might be abused but are struggling to seek assistance, said Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland at a launch event in London.

"This is everybody's business," Scotland told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"It's an opportunity to say to people 'There is a need for you to assist because if you don't intervene ... that person's life may be at risk.'"

A third of all women and girls experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to the United Nations.

Among those who might be eligible for training to make "bystander interventions" are medical staff, teachers or even locksmiths who may be called to make repairs after a destructive fight, Scotland said.

"It's those secondary people who can intervene and literally be responsible for saving someone's life," said Scotland.

The training is part of a wider programme aimed at tackling domestic abuse in partnership with the NO MORE Foundation, a global network of 1,400 organizations working to stop domestic and sexual abuse.

Scotland, the first woman to run the 54-nation group of 2.4 billion people, said tackling gender violence and discrimination is key to securing growth and prosperity for all.

Several Commonwealth nations have expressed interest in introducing the training, and it is expected to roll out in the first participating countries later this year.

Scotland added that while the scheme is primarily aimed at women, it will be used to support male victims and those in LGBT+ relationships.

The plan was hailed by Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, at the launch event.

"I am delighted that today the Commonwealth family are coming together to talk about what we can do to address the inequality that still exists and impedes many women and girls from reaching their full potential," she said in a written statement.

(Reporting by Sonia Elks @soniaelks; Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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