Dr. Enright Works with UN on Fighting Gender-Based Violence

University of Wisconsin educational psychology professor Dr. Robert Enright will speak at the United Nations next month and serve on an international “Expert Group” that will develop intervention models aimed at ending gender-based violence around the world.

The Expert Group, which includes participants from six countries around the world, will meet in New York on September 29-30. That initial 2-day work session is being hosted by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).  The UNFPA is the lead UN agency for “delivering a world with expanded possibilities for women and young people to lead healthy and productive lives.”

Globally, according to the UNFPA, 1 in 3 women face gender-based violence, usually at the hands of someone she knows. Furthermore, 1 in 4 women, including adolescent girls, have been subjected to intimate partner or non-partner sexual violence. Those risks of violence are compounded in countries experiencing conflict and disasters.

                                                            U.S. Domestic Violence Statistics
    ► Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in  the United States.1
    ► A woman is beaten every 15 seconds in the United States.2
    ► Every day, 4 women die as a result of abuse.2
    ► Every day, 3 children die as a result of abuse.2
    ► From 1-4 million women are battered each year by their  husbands or live-in partners.2
    ► Family violence costs the nation from $5 to $10 billion in  medical expenses, police
          and court costs, shelters and foster care, absenteeism and loss of productivity.3
    ► Domestic violence is a major contributing factor to other problems: child abuse,
         drug & alcohol abuse, job loss, homelessness, and attempted suicide.4

        1  U.S. Attorney General
        2  U.S. Department of Justice
        3 American Medical Association
        4 Office for Victims of Crime

 “There have been years of effort and advocacy by many individuals and organizations to address these sad statistics,” Dr. Enright says. “Yet there is still a tremendous need to provide support programs toward psychological healing.  Forgiveness therapy is one proven way of restoring psychological health following such trauma.”

Dr. Enright said the UNFPA has established three main objectives for the Expert Group Meeting:
1) To provide an update on state-of-the-art integrative approaches to address the trauma and post-trauma caused by gender-based  violence;
2) To identify humanistic integrative intervention models to help victims and survivors of gender-based violence; and,
3) To develop a strategy and timetable for implementation.

The intervention model that Dr. Enright and the Expert Group come up with in New York will be piloted in three selected areas where gender-based violence is prevalent: Bosnia-Herzegovina, Colombia, and Israel/Palestine. Funding will be provided by the United Nations.

“I’m delighted that one of the leading UN agencies has recognized the importance of our forgiveness research at UW-Madison and the development of intervention models like our Forgiveness Education Program,” Dr. Enright said of the upcoming meeting.

“That research has already demonstrated that forgiveness therapy can have a strong positive impact in dealing with trauma and post-trauma in both conflict and post-conflict situations,” he added.

Dr. Enright said he is hopeful that the forgiveness programs he has been operating in Northern Ireland for the past 12 years; in Liberia, West Africa for 3 years; and the one he just recently started in Israel-Palestine after 3 years of groundwork there, will soon be employed to address gender-based violence as well.

“If students are introduced at age 4 to the inherent (built-in) worth of all people, which we do in our Forgiveness Education Programs, would the amount of gender-based violence go down, perhaps dramatically?” Dr. Enright asks. “The world needs forgiveness education.”

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