“We developed a handout to explain gender-based violence. A 9-year old boy picked one up and later he came back pulling his mother by the hand. He brought her to us so she could make a report. He brought her to us because he saw our work.”

Sandra Gomes Melo is the director of the Civil Police Academy in Brazil’s Federal District of Brasilia. She challenges outdated thinking and comes up with strategies that enable the criminal justice system to better serve survivors of gender-based violence. Sandra became a human rights attorney and then rose through the police ranks, making a name for herself by introducing new ideas.

When she was Police Chief in Brasilia, she started the Women’s Mobile Police Unit, a roving police station focused on women. Now that she leads the Civil Police Academy, Sandra’s made gender-based violence a priority, integrating gender-sensitive training into the curriculum taught to every new officer.