Efforts stressed to curb violence against women
KABUL (Pajhwok): The Ministry of Public Health, together with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Health Organization (WHO), on Sunday celebrated the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
At an event held in Kabul, women’s rights activists, UN agencies and health professionals called for stronger efforts to combat gender-based violence (GBV) and strengthen health sector response to GBV.
Violence against women is a major public health problem and violation of women's human rights: It can result in physical, mental, sexual, reproductive health and other health problems, even death, a statement issued by the Ministry of Public Health said.
To tackle this issue, the Ministry of Public Health, in close collaboration with the UN, is implementing a multi-sectoral response through the establishment of Family Protection Centers, the introduction of a GBV Treatment Protocol nationwide, and the implementation of a GBV data collection system.
“Health facilities need to provide supportive and survivor-centered care to women and girls experiencing violence and the Family Protection Centers are an excellent example of this,” said Deputy Minister of Public Health Dr. Najia Tariq.
She said that “the recently launched GBV Treatment Protocol shows the government’s commitment to combating all forms of violence against women and building the capacity of the health sector to effectively respond to such violence.”
Health systems have an important role to play in GBV response by contributing to the prevention of the recurrence of violence and mitigating the consequences of violence, the statement added.
Identifying and documenting incidents of violence is crucial, as well as ensuring the provision of clinical care and appropriate referrals to survivors. Health systems must also play a role in advocating for interventions to combat the social acceptability and tolerance of violence against women.
“Violence against women is a global pandemic that requires stronger efforts from all sectors. Health facilities are often the first entry points where women and girls experiencing violence seek help. It is therefore essential that the health system has the necessary capacity to respond to GBV cases in a safe and effective manner,” says UNFPA Representative Dr. Annette Sachs Robertson.
Nationwide data on violence against women is scarce, but research suggests that more than 80 percent of women in Afghanistan experience at least one form of domestic violence. According to global estimates, one in three women experience either physical and/or sexual violence at least once in their lives. Recent global figures indicate that as many as 38 percent of murders of women are committed by their husbands or partners.
Dr Rik Peeperkorn, WHO country representative said: “There is no magic solution for strengthening health sector response to violence against women: political will, effective capacity building, health systems strengthening, institutional changes and strong multi-sectoral coordination and collaboration are needed.”
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