The main theme of this session being the elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls, Zambia’s Ambassador to the UN opened the floor. Data from the WHO suggests that women between the ages of 15-49 have experienced gender-based violence at least once during their lifetime. It is realized that there are influences like the social economic framework of certain countries which all play a significant role in perpetuating gender-based violence. There is no magic bullet; this serious problem must be approached with a multitude of holistic solutions with a collective effort. The case of a 3-year-old girl who was raped and maimed on a bus in India, really probes us to question our morals and what can be done to protect these vulnerable women. Zambia Representative, who is also a gynecologist, recounts the case of a 9-month-old child who died after being sexually assaulted by her brother, and her family tried to cover it up.
We can no longer look at acts of violence against women as a cultural issue. The health sector needs to improve dramatically if there is to be any improvement. The frameworks need to be in place, and exclusion from services shall not happen based solely on the individual’s ability to pay the costs. There is a need to invest money into forensic equipment for evidence and both physical and emotional support for those who are vulnerable. Serious discussion and insight was given about the need for a one-stop center, and the need for all components to come together, financial, emotional, and structural to create a lasting system to protect women.
The WHO expressed concerns about the collection of data globally and how to actively utilize this data for improvements. The health sector will continue to have an important role to play with a constant strive to improve health services and service providers. There is a set of guidelines being put together, but because these guidelines need to be universal, every nation will be asked for their input and expertise when molding these guidelines. These guidelines cover a range of issues, confidentiality, non-judgmental response and immediate/after care. The medical, legal and clinical aspects need to be tied closer together in these cases to improve efficiency and remove the apprehension of individuals involved.
UN Women made reference to the need for Global standards and policies in order to protect vulnerable women. They have initiated programs focusing on critical services because the immediate response and the need for the services to be there are paramount.
It would seem that all delegates share a similar view. In order for the global situation to improve, there must be an implemented structural framework that addresses mental, physical, referral systems, treatment, aftercare, financing and incorporating working professional’s opinions and experiences for best practices. The legal system also needs to be tied directly to these structural systems for those to be held accountable and punished for their actions. Lastly, there is a huge essential component in sensitizing how the media portray women- the media also have their role to play in a holistic societal approach to prevent violence against women.
By: Wayne Doyle