WHO has published a report by Ian Askew – WHO Director of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research – “Survivors of sexual and physical abuse need #youtoo” touching on one of the most burning issues of the nowadays.
In the past few weeks, the outpouring of #metoo stories in social media has opened the world’s eyes to a significant, yet often hidden public health concern. An estimated 1 in 3 women experience physical and/or sexual abuse by an intimate partner or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their life.
Violence against women – both physical and sexual – is a gross violation of human rights and results in serious short- and long-term physical, mental, sexual and reproductive health problems.
The statistics cannot be ignored. This is a global issue, which is present in every context, professional sector, and area of life. Survivors of violence are our sisters, wives, daughters, sons, friends, colleagues and patients.
While the outpouring of survivor stories has brought to the fore a collective voice around a huge global issue, survivors often still find it challenging to disclose and may be re-traumatized by telling their stories of abuse. This is where the health system can play a significant role. Health workers: #youtoo can step up to respond to women, and others who have survived violence.
Our duty as health workers
Since violence against women, children and adolescents leads many survivors to seek health services, we must ensure that no matter where care is provided that it is fair, respectful and without discrimination. At WHO, we are working with health systems worldwide to strengthen the care they provide.
Our new manual, Strengthening health systems to respond to women subjected to intimate partner violence or sexual violence, provides practical guidance for what health systems need to do to support trained providers. It outlines the necessary steps for how to strengthen and build infrastructure, service delivery, health information systems and referral networks to support survivors of violence, among others. It complements Responding to intimate partner violence and sexual violence against women: A clinical handbook, which is a training resource for health providers on how to identify and provide support to victims/survivors.
Recognizing the unique needs of children and adolescents, last month, we also launched guidelines on Responding to children and adolescents who have been sexually abused. These guidelines provide recommendations on ensuring care is child or adolescent-centred and focused on their safety and wellbeing. Children and adolescents should also be provided with information and services that allow them to make choices about their treatment, care and support.
Read the complete version of the report : here.