From where I stand: “I went back to university to pursue my degree in Gender Studies; I am the only male student in the class”
Date: Thursday, November 15, 2018
Meet Imad Natour, a Palestinian police officer who specializes in domestic violence cases as part of the Family and Juvenile Protection Unit. The unit, supported by a joint programme by UN Women, UNDP and UNICEF, provides survivors of violence with medical, legal aid, temporary shelter and police protection. The unit is also creating powerful gender equality advocates like Natour within communities.
Imad Natour. Photo: UN Women/Eunjin Jeong
Some people ask me if there is any disadvantage in working with female survivors of violence as a man. As long as we establish trust, it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman. It’s all about having the right approach and making survivors feel safe and comfortable to speak out. I was trained by UN Women and other partners on how to speak to survivors. Also, we work 24/7 and go to survivors’ homes immediately, whenever they call us, to stop the perpetrators and protect them and their children.
I take great pride in being part of this unit, the “first responder” on domestic violence cases in Palestine. When this unit was first established, 10 years ago, domestic violence was considered a private issue that should remain within the household. Over time, we learned to understand the needs and realities of survivors as we worked with them, and we created partnerships to refer the cases to different ministries, government institutions, and civil society organizations. These partnerships have led to better service provision for the survivors.
Growing up, I didn’t know I would become a police officer; but today I feel great fulfillment in my job as I can see that my work is making a positive impact on people’s lives. In Tulkarem, I often meet survivors of violence whom we have supported and who are now empowered. They have gone back to work, or to school, and to more supportive and safer homes. They have also become active advocates in their own community and encourage other survivors to seek support from the unit. Thanks to them, the number of survivors coming to the unit is increasing every day. We receive about 7,000 cases per year.
I recently went back to university to pursue my master’s degree in Gender Studies; I am the only male student in the class.
I dream of a Palestine where everyone, regardless of gender, can live with dignity and free of violence as it’s guaranteed in our law. Until then, I will continue to work for the survivors of violence to help them speak out and seek justice.”