Rutgers Center for Research on Ending Violence and Rutgers Global Partner with U.S. Department of State to Host Discussion on Gender-Based Violence Prevention & Intervention

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On Thursday, December 14, 2023, Rutgers Center for Research on Ending Violence, housed within the School of Social Work, and Rutgers Global hosted an on-campus discussion with ten Iraqi activists engaged in work related to gender-based violence who are part of the U.S. Department of State's International Leadership Visitor Program. 

The Department of State outlined the following specific objectives for the discussion:

  • Review best practices for preventing gender-based violence;
  • Discuss techniques to identify forms of gender-based abuse, report abuse, prosecute abusers, and provide assistance and protection to victims of gender-based violence;
  • Improve understanding about how social developments, such as economic opportunities, education, entrepreneurship, political participation, and leadership, can serve as tools for combating violence; and
  • Examine education and outreach initiatives that increase law enforcement’s awareness of child and gender-based domestic abuse and enhance its capacity to combat it.

“It was an incredible privilege for the Center to host this amazing group of Iraqi activists working on issues related to domestic violence,” said Dr. McMahon. “Their courage, passion, and determination to create real social change was deeply inspiring. It was also a wonderful opportunity to connect with other leaders in the state of New Jersey who are engaged in important work to help address interpersonal violence, and the day was a reminder that these issues are local and global; there is much work to be done. We learned so much from the day and are grateful for the opportunity.”

Through conversations with leadership from Rutgers University, including Richard L. Edwards (School of Social Work Interim Dean), Sarah McMahon (Professor and Director of the Center for Research on Ending Violence), Chiara Sabina (Associate Professor, Chancellor’s Scholar for Inclusive Excellence in Interpersonal Violence Research, and Associate Director of the Center for Research on Ending Violence), and Johanna Bernstein (Assistant Dean for Faculty Engagement at Rutgers Global), the activists learned about the work being conducted on gender-based violence prevention and intervention in the United States, specifically researching causes of violence, formulations of policies that can be advocated for both locally and nationally to remove violence creating imbalances, and effective advocacy of said policies.

“The event was a wonderful opportunity to learn about advocacy efforts in Iraq and to share our relevant experiences,” said Dr. Sabina. “The dedication and courage of the participants was palpable and they had many important inquiries for us.  Of special interest was services for students, research opportunities, and coordination with other social services and leaders. The conversation underscored for me the need for tailored approaches that build on cultural strengths and broad cross-sectional efforts to promote the well-being of women.”

“Rutgers is happy to support these kinds of events and to collaborate with the State Department and bring incredible scholars like this to our campus,” added Dr. Bernstein.