Women-only police stations proposed to end domestic violence
If we're serious about ending violence against women, we must trial women-only police stations.
That is the belief of QUT criminologist Professor Kerry Carrington, who is calling for at trial of women-only police stations in Australia to help end violence against women.
Professor Carrington is head of QUT's School of Justice and investigated the key features and different models of women-only police stations in South America earlier this year and said once a woman gets through the doors, she is safe.
"Women experiencing violence have all the services they need in the one place at these police stations," said Professor Carrington, who is presenting her findings at the National Policing Summit in Melbourne tomorrow, Wednesday, August 5.
"Domestic and family violence account for a significant proportion of lethal violence in Australia and we have not been successful in reducing it.
"We need new tactics and to look around the world for systems that work.
"Women-only police stations must be trialled in Australia if we are serious about reducing the high rate of domestic and family violence in this country."
Since the first women-only police station was established in Brazil in 1985, they have spread throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia and India.
"Women-only police stations deal exclusively with female victims of domestic violence," Professor Carrington said.
"They do employ male police officers but not on the front desk.
"They are one-stop shops for these women as they are staffed by specially trained female police officers, psychologists, lawyers and social workers."
Professor Carrington said the stations offered women protection, and they did not need to go outside to access other vital services.
"The officers prepare warrants, take testimony, interview suspects, witnesses and complainants, prepare police facts and briefs, and liaise with the prosecution branch," she said.
Professor Carrington said a 2011 United Nations Women evaluation of women-only police stations found they worked to combat violence against women by:
• Increasing women's willingness to report violence and seek help.
• Lifting women's awareness about their rights and their options.
• Increasing women's access to a range of other prevention and support services they needed to prevent further violence.
• Protecting women and ensuring consequences such as a conviction for the perpetrator
• Bringing about cultural change towards domestic violence.
"Women's reluctance to report at an ordinary station are many and complex but they include shame, embarrassment, and lack of information about rights or justice procedures," she said.
"Overall, 77 per cent of survey respondents in Brazil and Nicaragua, and 64 per cent in Ecuador felt that women-only police stations had contributed to a reduction in violence against women in their countries."