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Domestic violence impairs women's health

By unknown | Aug 14, 2008 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Khanyisile Nkosi

The country's health system has not been able to deal adequately with cases of domestic violence because there is nothing in place guiding them on how they should respond.

This was the view expressed at a two-day workshop in Johannesburg this week to look at the affect of domestic violence on women's health.

Lisa Vetten, researcher and policy analyst at the Tshwaranang Legal Advocacy Centre to End Violence Against Women, said most health workers were not trained to deal with domestic violence.

"When women go to clinics with injuries most health workers don't even ask who hurt them," Vetten said. "If they did they could put more women in contact with help agencies and keep records of women's attempts to seek help, which is often relevant in criminal and civil litigation involving domestic violence.

" It might also result in more effective medical treatment since health workers would no longer treat the symptoms but address the underlying cause, which is domestic violence."

Vetten said most health workers don't know how to ask women if they are being abused. They don't know how to help or refer women for help.

"They also don't want to get involved in what they see as people's private affairs or they simply don't have the time because of their workload."

She said the absence of policies guiding health workers contributes to ill-health in domestic violence victims.

"Problems such as depression, headaches, backaches hypertension, insomnia and eating disorders often don't improve because the underlying cause is not being dealt with," Vetten said.


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