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VIOLENCE IN THE CITY Understanding and Supporting Community Responses to Urban Violence Alys Willman Social Development Department October 25, 2011
Globally, interpersonal violence kills more people than war Source: WHO Mortality databases 2008
Urban Violence: A serious development obstacle • Urban centers are now home to more than half the world’s population • Violence is costly (7.3% of GDP in Guatemala in 2005; $9.6 billion in Mexico in 2007 alone) • Violence erodes social networks, discourages investment, hampers mobility, limits access to educational and employment opportunities Social Development Department VIOLENCE IN THE CITY Social Development Department
The relationship between cities and violence is complicated Violence is not always higher in cities Source: UNODC
Violence is not inevitable in Cities • City size has no significant relationship with homicide rates, nor does population density • Rate of city growth does have a significant relationship, but there are exceptions • Smart policies can bring down high homicide rates Social Development Department VIOLENCE IN THE CITY Social Development Department
Perspectives from the Community • How are people coping every day with violence? • What can we do to support positive coping strategies? Social Development Department VIOLENCE IN THE CITY Social Development Department
Community Capacities for Violence Prevention Social capital, cohesion are important, but insufficient. Collective efficacy is essential. Five capacities are important: - Generate trust, heal trauma, link community efforts with broader initiatives, exert social control over violent behavior, ensure inclusion.
Violence affects everyone, but some groups are affected differently than others Victimization rates (past year) ranged from 21% (Dili); 33% (Port-au-Prince); 39% (Fortaleza); 44% (Nairobi); 49% (Johannesburg) Youth (between 15-35 years old) accounted for 40-75 percent of victims in the five sites. Males were only slightly more likely to be victimized than females (Haiti was an exception), but more likely to be perpetrators everywhere. Social Development Department Social Development Department VIOLENCE IN THE CITY Social Development Department
Robbery and assault were the most common forms of victimization in all sites, yet there was important variation. Experiences of sexual violence were alarmingly high in some communities, and often occurred in public spaces. Different forms of violence are very much interlinked.
Perceived Drivers of Violence • Unemployment “If these people had work, everybody could have peace,” (male, Nairobi). • Social exclusion (which can be mobilized by political actors) “A young person who grows up in a context where no one is looking after him, where no one provides his basic needs… Understand what I am saying: that person will do what he must.” (male, Cite Soleil, Haiti) VIOLENCE IN THE CITY Social Development Department
Many coping mechanisms further isolate residents, and erode trust “This is part of our lives… We don’t do anything… There was a day when a 10 year-old girl was murdered in broad daylight as if it were as normal as fetching a bucket of water, you understand?What do you think we said when the police came…?” (young male, Fortaleza) “On my birthday my son bought me a beautiful ring. But one day he turned to me and said, ‘Mommy give me that ring. I want to go sell it.’ I could not ask him why, because I know he is involved in criminal activities.” (mother, Johannesburg) VIOLENCE IN THE CITY Social Development Department
Particularly troubling is a tendency to rely on extra-legal sources of security “Let me tell you about a situation… They caught someone, and he was lynched. This man had killed a man, but a brave seven year-old boy hit him in the back with a rock, enabling the community to catch him. The police drove by and looked at the scene.” (Male, Cite Soleil, Haiti) VIOLENCE IN THE CITY Social Development Department
The Built Environment Affects Mobility, Security and Trust • Poor infrastructure encourages situational crime • Lack of services increases vulnerability, feeds sense of social exclusion • People need safe spaces to come together, exert social control over violent behavior
What Can be Done? • Desire for a different kind of policing, employment opportunities, and improved infrastructure.
Recommendations Rebuilding Trust: • Send clear signals that the situation will change • Address the perceived drivers of violence • Improve relationships across generations, and between people and the state (especially police) • Address the trend toward private security Addressing Relationships Between different forms of Violence • Programs to prevent domestic violence, and better coordination of programs addressing different forms VIOLENCE IN THE CITY Social Development Department
Recommendations Supporting Community Capacities for Action • Upgrading infrastructure as a catalyzing force • Supporting collective action • Improved data collection and sharing to empower collective action Improving Coordination of Policies and Programs • Connecting national, state, municipal initiatives • More understanding of what works in low-capacity settings • Support to governments to coordinate initiatives VIOLENCE IN THE CITY Social Development Department