By Crossroads’ volunteer, Patricia Wilson
This past May, I volunteered with two of my colleagues who work in the Canadian domestic violence legal system for a justice exchange with Crossroads International its local partner in Tanzania, Kilimanjaro Women Information Exchange and Community Organization (KWIECO). The goal of the exchange was to facilitate the mutual sharing and learning of experiences to help bring about a Gender Based Violence friendly and sensitive court system in which women and girls get a greater access to justice. I am the Manager of the Victim and Witness Services in Toronto and made the trip to Tanzania with a judge from the only Canadian Domestic Violence Integrated Court and a Crown Attorney.
I almost don’t know where to start! Working with Crossroads’ partner KWIECO, police officers, justice officials and policy makers to share knowledge and provide training in systemic responses to gender-based violence cases in the court system was an incredible experience for me and my colleagues. One of the highlights was visiting the only emergency shelter for women in Tanzania. Thanks to Crossroads’ work with KIWECO, this shelter is a huge step forward in protecting the victims who are fleeing gender-based violence.
It was such a privilege to meet the people who are doing so much to end sexual abuse and violence. It was so inspiring to see how entire communities are coming together to protect women and girls from horrific violence. I was particularly impressed by the level of conviction and commitment held by those who work tirelessly towards ending violence against women and children.
Some were lending their voices to public campaigns, while others were shining a light on the issues for their families and communities. Everywhere we went, I saw how people had taken up the call to do what they could as individuals and to join together to share knowledge and find a way to stop gender-based violence.
It was inspiring to see people from all walks of life including shelter workers, lawyers, chief magistrates of the court and police officers discussing how they could bring about change in the system and embrace the protection of the rights of women and girls.
I am so grateful to have been able to volunteer my time and share my knowledge with Crossroads and KWIECO. And I can’t wait until my next block of vacation time becomes available, so I can once again volunteer, share and learn with Crossroads International programs and partners!