According to WHO, 1 in 3 women throughout the world will experience physical and/or sexual violence by a partner or sexual violence by a non-partner. Violence against women is an international phenomenon. In her book, “Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom’, Dr Christiane Northrup rightly puts it, “Abuse against women is an epidemic, whether subtle or overt.”.
UNESCO website mentions, today, nearly 17% of the world’s adult population is still not literate; two-thirds of them women, making gender equality even harder to achieve.
According to the latest factsheet by UNESCO Institute for Statistics, in 27 countries, mainly located in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, young women are still less likely than men to have basic reading and writing skills.
The India Story
Emma Livne, in her paper at Carnegie Mellon University, states “Though India developed Kama Sutra, a literature on sex. It has ancient texts that speak of sex freely, foreign presence saw to the stigmatisation of sexual liberalism.
Within the British Period (1858-1947), women strongly became considered representatives of Indian culture and spirituality, and consequently often kept at home in order to protect and preserve these entities from foreign influence. Since this time, Indian culture marked by conservatism and proceeds to consider sex a taboo. Indirectly, this perception offers cause for violence against women."
How does violence affect women?
Violence against women has both fatal and non-fatal health consequences.
Fatal consequences include
- Maternal mortality
- AIDS-related deaths.
Non-fatal consequences include physical and mental health conditions, such as:
- Physical injuries and disability;
- Unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortion;
- Pregnancy and birth complications, including low birth weight (when it occurs during pregnancy);
- Sexually transmitted infections, including HIV;
- Traumatic gynecological fistula;
- Depression and anxiety;
- Eating and sleep disorders;
- Harmful drug and alcohol use;
- Low self-esteem;
- Post-traumatic stress disorder;
- Gastrointestinal disorders;
- Chronic pain syndromes.
WHO states Health-care providers are in a unique position to address the health and psychosocial needs of women who have experienced violence.
WHO’s new clinical and policy guidelines on the health sector response to partner and sexual violence against women. Which emphasize the urgent need to integrate these issues into clinical training for health care providers.
The role of an Obstetrician-Gynecologist:
Obstetricians-Gynecologists have an ethical duty to be advocates for women’s health care. As members of a learned profession, they have a body of knowledge that includes sexual and reproductive health.
Gynecologists and Obstetricians are usually the first professional that women approach with health problems in this area. The knowledge base and social standing of physicians place them in a position with the potential to influence policies regarding women’s health.
As rightly recommended by the FIGO committee in the guidelines “ETHICAL ISSUES IN OBSTETRICS AND GYNECOLOGY”, there is a need for wider awareness of the magnitude of the problem of violence against women. Only if this problem is recognized can it be addressed?
Physicians, as advocates for women, are uniquely placed to assist in this. There is, therefore, a duty for professional societies and physicians to publicize information about the frequency of types of violence against women, and the implications for the wider society of allowing this to continue.
FOGSI - Hyderabad Chapter:
The Hyderabad chapter of FOGSI, OGSH, led by Dr S. Shantakumari, has taken this responsibility seriously and started a movement “Dheera” to raise awareness among the medical fraternity as well as general public on this issue. FOGSI a public forum to Stop Violence Against Women.
FOGSI-OGSH had organised a BIKETHON for the same on 6th August. Participate and show your support. Register here for free.
Doc N Me congratulates the spirit of the doctors to come together for this social cause and wholeheartedly supports them in this movement.