Thursday, 10 December 2015

Human Rights Day 2015 (10 December 2016)

Parveen Ali

10 December 2015, which is celebrated as Human Rights Day, is also the last day of United Nation’s ‘16 days of activism’. Today is also the end of the JAN interactive entries on violence against women (VAW) and we launch a JAN special virtual issue on violence against women containing 13 articles published in the past 6 years.

It was an honour for me to run these activities as a guest editor. I am extremely thankful to all my colleagues who contributed to the JAN interactive series, all those who helped make this possible and all our readers who have been following the series. I am very grateful to Roger Watson, Editor-in Chief of JAN who made highlighting the issue of VAW possible.

I thought, it would be useful to reflect on the past 16 days to consolidate points explored. We explored: the scope of VAW; intimate partner violence and its impact; sexual and street harassment; acid violence; female genital mutilation; forced marriages, health care professionals response to forced marriage, honour based violence, impact of domestic violoence and abuse (DVA) on children; prevention of DVA in adolescents , old age and sexual assault; older women’s experiences of DVA; DVA and suicide; the usefulness of DVA perpetrator programme; DVA in the context of migration; DVA and women from minority ethnic backgrounds; role of men; priorities for nursing research focusing on VAW; DVA statistics; and how health care professionals (HCPs) should respond to DVA.

It has been an amazing experience to see the breadth of perspectives presented in these entries. However, a common and very clear message in all of these entries was that health care professionals, especially nurses and midwives, can play a vital role in prevention of DVA. They can do this by contributing to early identification of intimate partner violence victims. They can do this by providing appropriate opportunities and supportive environment (privacy, confidentiality) to DVA victims, so they feel able to disclose their experience. HCPs can help prevent DVA by ensuring appropriate referrals are made to appropriate services. In addition, active listening, an empathetic and non-judgmental attitude and an awareness of one’s own values and beliefs related to DVA/VAW, prejudice and biases is necessary to provide appropriate care. HCPs, including doctors, nurses, midwives, can also play their role by contributing to the development and implementation of appropriate policies, guidelines, and legislations at all levels. They need to ensure that every DVA victim is provided with person-centred and individualised care. Other points raised in these entries include recognising the importance of engaging men in prevention of VAW, the importance of increasing awareness of issues such as sexual and street harassment and the usefulness of perpetrator programmes. It is also important to explore perpetrator's perspective as it can help identify motives and characteristics of perpetrators, which can help develop appropriate programme.

VAW is a complex and multifactorial issue, therefore, it requires a multi-sectoral and ecological approach to deal with it. HCPs including doctors, nurses and midwives are integral part of health care system of any society, and by virtue of their position, they can help prevent VAW.

I hope that those who have engaged with JAN interactive series on VAW have found it useful. I also hope that we can continue to engage in such debate in future.


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