UN Vienna: Video Game Helps Victims of Gender-based Violence

Side Event with UNODC Dept Director  (1).jpg

By Carolyn Handschin

Within the larger framework of the Global Programme for the Implementation of the Doha Declaration: Promoting a Culture of Lawfulness, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), with the government of Mexico, sponsored a side event during the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice (CCPCJ) on May 17, 2018. The event, “Education as a powerful tool to prevent violence against children”, included the official launch of their joint initiative: a video game aimed at helping young girls to respond to psychological, physical and sexual violence. “Chuka” was designed by the renowned Mexico City-based, women-led developer firm Gagamel Estudio. A captivating game, it helps young girls (7-12) recognize and deal with aggressions. 

The Crime Commission side event, also linked to the “Education for Justice (E4J)” initiative, was planned to bring together stakeholders to discuss how education can make a difference in schools and society. HE Ambassador Alicia Buenrostro Massieu of Mexico chaired the session, introducing the theme and her hopes for the new project. Speakers representing the sponsors included the Deputy Attorney General of Mexico, Sara Irene Herrias, Antonia Luigi Mazzitelli, Representative of the UNODC Liaison and Partnership Office in Mexico and Daniela Baptista, its National Program Officer. A detailed description of the project, its launching in Mexico and the actual psychological patterns that are affected through game use were provided. The audience seemed to hope for a live demonstration.

Carolyn Handschin, Director of the UN Offices for WFWPI, was invited to bring in the voice of civil society engaged in early childhood education programs. She addressed the theme “Educating Children for Resiliency and Prevention of Conflict”, concurring with UNODC that the current burden on costly correctional social justice systems can be shifted if preventive education already begins at a young age.

Mrs. Handschin praised the work of the UNODC to strengthen prevention through programs and institutions that promote a healthy lifestyle, such as this video game and their “Strong Families” program in South America. She explained how WFWP educational programs and curricula often promote family as an institution critical to peace culture and “conscience” as an important and underestimated tool to instill values and identify “goodness” as a basis for value to the larger whole. 

As explained by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Violence Against Children (SRSG-VAC), Marta Santos Pais, “We see less recidivism where there is a focus on prevention rather than imprisonment...Children’s exposure to violence often leads to a dramatic vicious circle. Child victims of sexual abuse are up to five times as likely to suffer post-traumatic stress disorder, to be dependent on drugs and alcohol, and also to commit criminal offences later in life. Child neglect increases the likelihood of arrest as a juvenile and emotional maltreatment...leads to an increased risk of involvement in violent crime.”

Cultivated in early childhood and youth, the development of conscience or a sense of “dignity for all” should be incubated in the relationship between parents and children. By responding to a parent’s nurturing, forgiveness and discipline, a child learns the principle of “giving back”. It shapes a paradigm for future social relations, which translates to an innate sense of regard and concern for others: the “Golden Rule”. Resilience is a natural byproduct because it is easier to revert to a healthy lifestyle if already experienced and, even more, if children are made to understand what the building blocks of “community” are.