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August 13, 2007

Addressing the Physical and Mental Health of Women Trafficked in Europe

The following is the second in a series of informal reports from Piotr M. Pawlak, a colleague in Washington DC. Piotr is the Human Rights and International Relations Specialist for Amnesty International USA, and Government Relations Fellow, Advocacy for Europe and Central Asia. He actively participates in international forums on issues related to gender-based violence, gender equality and reproductive health.

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On June 28 in Washington, DC, I participated in a presentation entitled "Addressing the Physical and Mental Health of Women Trafficked in Europe." The event was sponsored by the Gender-Based Violence Task Force of the Interagency Gender Working Group (IGWG).

The speaker was Professor Charlotte Watts, co-author of the report, "Stolen Smiles: A Summary Report on the Physical and Psychological Health Consequences of Women and Adolescents Trafficked in Europe." She discussed the health consequences of trafficking and what could be done to help women recover.

Dr. Watts holds the Sigrid Rausing Chair in Gender Violence and Health and is head of the newly established Multidisciplinary Centre on Gender, Violence and Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in the UK.

Dr. Watts summarized her report and concluded that women who have been subjected to trafficking and forced into service, including sex work, are more likely to suffer multiple physical and mental health problems than the general female population, according to a recent study. However, once released from such situations, women can show vast improvement after only a month of professional care.

The study "Stolen Smiles" included 207 women from 14 countries who had been recently released from a trafficking situation. The researchers interviewed trafficked women from four "spheres of marginalization and vulnerability," including:

  1. Migrant women
  2. Exploited laborers
  3. Sex workers
  4. Torture victims

According to the report:

  • Sixty percent of the women interviewed were physically or sexually abused before being trafficked. This figure rose to 95 percent of the women during their trafficking situation.
  • Many women suffered severe physical health problems: within the first two weeks upon release, 57 percent of women reported between 12 and 23 symptoms, with the most common symptoms being headaches, fatigue, dizzy spells, back pain, stomach/abdominal pain, and memory problems.
  • After three to eight weeks of treatment, the incidence decreased significantly to 7 percent.
  • Trafficked women are at high risk for psychological problems. Upon their entry into a care facility, 56 percent of women reported symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder and 95 percent reported feeling depressed.
  • These problems appear to be more persistent, as most women did not show improvement until they received medical care for at least 90 days.

In her final statement Dr. Watts recognized that trafficked women suffer significant and dramatic health problems and consequences, and recommended the following:

  • Recognition of the physical and mental condition of women who enter the legal system once they are released from the trafficking situation. Dr. Watts cautioned that a trafficking victim "might be treated as a criminal instead of someone who has faced horrendous physical and mental abuse."
  • Giving women the time, support, and health care they are likely to need before conducting in-depth interviews/interrogations to collect criminal evidence and before asking them to make considered decisions.
  • Creation of legislation that would provide trafficked women with a full range of health care services, regardless of their legal status in a country. She stated that once the women are released from the trafficking situation, a 90-day period of reflection is necessary for the women to receive treatment and recover to a point where they are able to make decisions about cooperating with authorities or returning home.
  • Raising awareness in the legal system by conducting sensitization training and distributing pamphlets on how to appropriately deal with women who have been trafficked. Some of the practical tips include being aware of the women's state of health; providing essential medical care before interrogation; establishing trust by making male or female officials available, whichever the trafficked women would prefer; and using a credible interpreter who would not compromise the victim or manipulate the answers.

I hope this helps. Thank you,
Peter

--
Piotr M. Pawlak, M.A.
Human Rights and International Relations Specialist
Amnesty International USA, Government Relations Fellow
Advocacy for Europe and Central Asia
19 T. Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002, USA

Email: piotr.m.pawlak@gmail.com

Posted by Jorge at 12:22 PM | Comments (0)

August 09, 2007

Violence Against Children: Voices of Ugandan Children and Adults

by Dipak Naker of Raising Voices
via: Soul Beat Africa
Raising Voices, 2005

This document examines the views of children and adults on child violence. Children were asked about their experiences of violence used against them: how the violence manifests, how often it occurs, who commits it, how it makes them feel, how they react, and what they believe should be done to prevent it. Adults were asked about their perspective of violence against children: how they understand the term "violence against children," how adults in their communities punish children, how they themselves punish children, how they rationalise the types of punishment they use, and what they believe should be done to prevent violence against children.

Read more on the Soul Beat Africa website, or download the full 116 page PDF document.

Contact: Raising Voices, Plot 16 Tufnell Drive, Kamwokya
PO Box 6770, Kampala, Uganda
Tel: +256 41 531186, Fax: +256 41 531249
info@raisingvoices.org | www.raisingvoices.org

Save the Children in Uganda
Plot 69 Kiira Road, PO Box 12018, Kampala, Uganda
Tel: +256 41 258815, Fax: +256 41 341700
sciug@sciug.org | www.savethechildren.org

Posted by Daniel at 10:13 AM | Comments (0)

August 06, 2007

Gender Norms and Reproductive Health

The following is an informal report from Piotr M. Pawlak, a colleague in Washington DC. Piotr is the Human Rights and International Relations Specialist for Amnesty International USA, and Government Relations Fellow, Advocacy for Europe and Central Asia. He actively participates in international forums on issues related to gender-based violence, gender equality and reproductive health. We will publish these reports regularly as Piotr updates us on his meetings and activities.

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On Thursday, August 2, 2007, I participated in a panel presentation: "Are Gender Norms A 'Gateway Factor' To Reproductive Health Behaviors? The reliability and validity of a behavioral index for predicting multiple FP/RH and HIV/AIDS behaviors" - Preliminary Results from a Study with Ethiopian Married Men.

Participants included:
By: Dr. Susan Middlestadt, Indiana University
Dr. Julie Pulerwitz, Horizons Program
Dr. Karabi Acharya, Geeta Nanda, Bridget Lombardo, AED

Background information:
Currently, the Health Communications Partnership (HCP), in collaboration with the Horizons Program (HP), is implementing research focused on gender norms and a range of health behaviors (e.g. condom use, practice of abstinence, modern contraceptive use).

Panelists agreed that gender norms are social expectations about how men and women should behave due to the fact they are men ad women; and since these expectations influence many behaviours, gender norms might operate as a gateway factor.

Panelists presented findings on a new behavioral index on gender norms as a factor that affects multiple health behaviors of interest to FP/RH/HIV programs. The index sheds light on how support for (in)equitable gender norms is associated with or predicts an array of behaviors (a Behaviour Index is a composite measure that captures the performance of a number of behaviours; beyond 2 or 3 key behaviours). Presenters shared new research data on the reliability and validity of the GEM ("Gender Equitable Men") Scale across several country settings (India, Ethiopia, Brazil).

Presenters agreed that GEM Scale is related to Index of Intimate Partner Behaviours and is related to 10 individual intimate partner behaviours (I have a detailed list of such correlations available). However, GEM Scale is not related to several individual behaviours, particularly violence behaviours:

- hit or slap your wife
- yell at your wife when a meal is late
- brag with other men how many women you had sex with
- speak up in public against hitting women
- have sex with someone when they did not want to
- help around the house with cooking or cleaning
- tell your wife you were unhappy or afraid.

Although, the study focused on men to measure their gender norms change, some attendees asked how to use the same approach to female gender norms change about men. According to the panelists, that is a next step in the HCP/HP research, but there are no preliminary results
available yet.

Final study implications for other programs was to invest more resources in intervention to improve gender norms, and include explicit discussion of gender norms in Behaviour Change Communication.

I hope this of some interest and help.

In addition, just a few days ago I found this very interesting publication prepared by Margaret Greene for the Interagency Gender Working Group. It lays out many of the key resources for working with men and provides a framework for distinguishing among varied programs, illustrating the range with strong examples. I thought you may be interested.

http://www.igwg.org/pdf/IGWG_SysteMALEtizing.pdf

Thanks,
Peter

--
Piotr M. Pawlak, M.A.
Human Rights and International Relations Specialist
Amnesty International USA, Government Relations Fellow
Advocacy for Europe and Central Asia
19 T. Street, N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002, USA

Email: piotr.m.pawlak@gmail.com

Posted by Daniel at 01:12 PM | Comments (0)




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