Imad Natour, is a Palestinian police officer who specialises in domestic violence cases as part of the Family and Juvenile Protection Unit. The unit, supported by UN Women and partners, 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.
“I have been supporting survivors of violence in Ramallah and Tulkarem for eight years now, through the Family and Juvenile Protection Unit (FJPU) of the Palestinian Civil Police. Before joining this unit in 2010, I worked for the Anti-Narcotics Administration, where I saw many domestic violence cases related to drug abuse, but I couldn’t help the survivors. At the time, there was no specialised unit within the police to support survivors of violence. I joined the Family and Juvenile Protection Unit just two years after its establishment. Since then, I have grown with the unit, and my expertise has evolved over time.
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 organisations. 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 fulfilment 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.”
We can achieve gender equality but to get there we must all stand together, regardless of gender. It will take all of us, working in collaboration and across that which sometimes divides us, to create a world where women and girls everywhere have equal rights and opportunities. Join us for our International Women’s Day 2019 events across Australia where we explore how we are #MorePowerfulTogether. Click the button below for more information and to get your table or tickets.