What the Healthcare Profession Can Do to Stop Violence Against Women
Wednesday, November 1, 2006 10:28 AM

In an article in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics, Mary Ellsberg, the senior advisor for Gender, Violence and Human Rights at PATH  briefly describes how violence against women affects women's health and what health-care providers can do to help women who are victims of violence.

Ellsberg emphasizes that violence against women happens throughout the world. The most common form of violence is intimate partner violence, commonly referred to as domestic violence. There are serious health effects from violence against women. Some of these effects are temporary, and others, like chronic pain syndromes, depression, and poor physical functioning, have long-term effects. Also, when a pregnant woman is subjected to violence, there could be adverse effects on the baby

Over the past two decades, there have been improvements in what is being done to help women who are victims of violence. However, many of these initiatives have not been monitored or evaluated for effectivness. 

One of the problems the health-care profession faces is the silence of the women who are the victims. Many are afraid to speak up on their own initiative, but studies have shown that when they are asked, women tend to open up about the violence they have experienced.

The health-care profession can take important steps towards helping these women. They can work to change cultural ideas about a woman's position in society at the community level. Also, they can coordinate with groups on a local level to help combat violence. They can work to train all their employees to ask questions of suspected victims and follow-up on the employees to make sure the programs are still being maintained. Lastly, they can promote women's empowerment and gender equality.

Compiled from: Ellsberg, M., "Violence against women and the Millenium Development Goals: Facilitating women's access to support," International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics (2006) 94, 325-332.