Panel Title: Gender Base Violence in Areas of Conflict and the Role of Donor Governments in Supporting Access to Comprehensive Post Rape Care.
Violence against women is a major concern throughout the world, but it is of special concern in areas of conflict because of the conditions and environment victims face after they have been abused. The stigma and fear associated with rape often prevents individuals from seeking health care and the disconnect between what is provided through policy and donor agencies and what is actually needed makes post rape care important to improve. The panel discussed the necessity of comprehensive post rape care and the importance of donor countries understanding how their funds can be used most effectively.
Comprehensive post rape care is more then just medical care (which is of vital importance) but what also needs to be include is psychological care (And long term psychological care) which is often not provided by donor agencies. These women experience brutal conditions, which is not something that goes away with medical treatment. The executive director of the Human Rights Watch offered two examples of cases where girls were taken from their homes and experienced sexual violence and abuse by various people on multiple accounts. In the case of Iraq, ISIS has abducted thousands of girls, while 300 of them have returned or escaped, many more are still there. Upon returning, many have no idea where their families are and experience many forms of abuse and often suffer from some form of post traumatic stress syndrome. One of the panel members pointed out that these are the more publicized cases, that was covered widely by the media, however, they still did not receive proper post-rape/violence care. One widespread argument was that this often has to do with what donor countries are allowed to provide…
The speakers mentioned legislation in the United States that has been interpreted in a way that prevents agencies to use donor funds for abortion. Many agencies offer post abortion care, but this is clearly not enough as the MSF (Medecins Sans Fronteires) representative reported the number one cause of maternal mortality is a result of unsafe abortions, with over 47,000 women dying each year. This is where donor agencies and grassroots organizations need to get on the same page. The representative from Kenya noted the necessity of recognizing the disconnect between policy and practice as the leader of Dandelion (an NGO in Kenya that works to improve the health of girls and women). While post abortion care is legal in Africa, when questioned about abortion, most of the girls described abortions as physically hurting themselves.. The education needs to be there and the access to safe abortions where it is legal is extremely important especially in these areas of conflict where some women these women are victims of rape and know they cannot afford to proceed with the pregnancy… it is a personal decision, but the access to safe pre and post abortion care will be instrumental in decreasing maternal deaths.
For More Information
One agency that is leading the way for providing comprehensive post rape care in areas of conflict is the MSF. This agency has provided medical and psychological care to over 10,000-15,000 victims of sexual violence a year, with 5% of those being boys. This agency recognizes the context in which these acts of violence are happening and are often the only source of care in these areas of conflict. Overall, the speakers recognized the importance of understanding how policies are carried out at a local level and the necessity to work with the level of citizens and higher officials to reduce the unsafe practices that are currently going on and ensure the polices achieve what the set out to do. Find out more about the MSF here at http://www.msf.org/.