On 28 April 2021, an international roundtable on “Prevention and Response to Gender-Based Violence: Experience of Central Asian Countries and the Republic of Korea (RoK)” took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. This event adopted a hybrid format, where representatives from seven countries contributed both online from their respective countries and in-person from Bishkek. Co-organized by UNDP Kyrgyzstan and the Spotlight Initiative program for Central Asia and Afghanistan, this event brought stakeholders together to exchange insight and policy expertise on advancing Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) prevention across Central Asia. USPC participated in this roundtable to share RoK’s experience in SGBV prevention and response.

After the opening remarks from the representatives of the Ministry of the Internal Affairs (MIA) of Kyrgyzstan and UNDP Kyrgyzstan, Ms. Natalia Maqsimchook, the Regional Spotlight Initiative Program Manager, shared the main objectives of the programme, “Alliance for Change - Eradication of SGBV and Harmful Practices in Central Asia and Afghanistan”. The Initiative is “the biggest ongoing effort to eradicate SGBV in Central Asia until 2030” and aims to review the legislative framework that guides the responses to SGBV, explained Ms. Maqsimchook. In coordination with country offices, UN agencies and local partners, the Initiative seeks to develop a methodology to identify gaps in knowledge, develop a roadmap to eliminate all forms of SGBV, and continue to represent the interests of the most vulnerable social groups.

Mr. Won Jang, the SGBV Programme Consultant at USPC then presented on “Korea’s Experience in Responding to the Needs of GBV Survivors”. Mr. Jang introduced the two most prominent policy mechanisms used in the RoK: The Sunflower Centers and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Protocol. The Sunflower Centers is a one-stop service mechanism for SGBV victims (survivors), where they provide integrated services including medical, counselling, legal, and police investigation in a single location. Fully funded by the RoK government, the Centers are committed to reducing long waiting hours in hospitals, and preventing situations where victims (survivors) are denied treatment and/or are forced to visit multiple service points, all of which could lead to secondary victimization. The second policy mechanism, the NICHD Protocol, is an interview protocol designed for police investigators to use when interviewing child victims (survivors) of sexual violence. Ms. Ahjung Lee, Policy Specialist at USPC, also provided additional insight on utilizing the two mechanisms from both the practical and institutional standpoint.

After the presentation, the representatives of the police force and civil society organizations submitted questions to USPC. They inquired upon the logistics of operating the Sunflower Centers, the administering bodies of the mechanisms, and the additional post-service procedures for victims (survivors). Mr. Jang and Ms. Lee were able to provide concise and concrete answers based on the current operationalization of the Centers and NICHD Protocol, supported by data and evidence to date.

The roundtable continued with presentations from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. Both countries elaborated on their SGBV protocols along with their educational and rehabilitation programs. Partners from Kazakhstan showcased their progress thus far, referring to previous knowledge exchange opportunities and activities in RoK with USPC. During the latter part of the roundtable, it was shown that RoK’s policy response to SGBV, especially the police training system was studied thoroughly and adopted by the stakeholders in Central Asia. In closing, all the participants of the roundtable reaffirmed the importance of multisectoral cooperation and strengthened medical, psychological and legal support for SGBV survivors.

* UNDP Seoul Policy Centre (USPC) shares Korea’s tested-and-proven policy tools with other countries through SDG Partnerships. As part of this effort, since 2017 USPC has been working with the Korean police and Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, and Sunflower Centers to share their knowledge and experience in responding to SGBV to partner countries around the world.

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