While the incidence of gender-based violence (GBV) in Angola is not known, anecdotal evidence indicates that it is common and that survivors do not receive support from the police or civil society. Currently, when domestic violence occurs, it is difficult to file criminal charges, which are often trivialized by the police. There are few forensic scientists and social workers trained in GBV, which compounds the challenges of building credible legal cases, especially related to sexual abuse or rape. Further, social systems in Angola (families, churches, and traditional leaders) are not supportive of criminal charges or divorce proceedings in cases of domestic violence; the goal is generally to try to keep couples together. The term "gender" is a relatively new concept in Angola and is typically equated with women, if considered and/or understood at all; few programs are equipped to address the gender norms that foster this violence. On a positive note, the Angolan National Assembly recently passed a law against GBV, although how it will be implemented remains to be seen.
During FY 2011-2012, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Angola asked RESPOND to implement a pilot project in Luanda with the specific focus of building the capacity of police staff at two police stations to respond appropriately to survivors of GBV. RESPOND developed a draft workplan with the Mission but had to put some of the work on hold after confirming with USAID/Washington that a waiver to work with the police is needed. RESPOND applied for and received the waiver in March 2012. In the interim, RESPOND completed the following tasks in support of this activity:
Next Steps for FY 2012-2013
Focus group discussions will be conducted with the police following receipt of the waiver. In addition, USAID/Angola recently requested that RESPOND develop a new workplan to focus on the following three areas:
This workplan included some follow-on activities to the work with the police. The workplan was approved, and training of local GBV activists and development of the awareness-raising campaign have begun.