MAGNA: Help to victims of sexual violence in conflict must be part of health care provision
Bratislava, 24th June – This week MAGNA commemorates International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict. The healthcare services for victims of sexual assault are part of MAGNA missions in the world and therefore this day of rememberance and support is remarkable. „MAGNA believes Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) is a medical emergency. We strive to make comprehensive health care available for survivors of sexual violence, whether they be women, children or men in all areas affected by military conflict, natural and humanitarian catastrophe. At the same time we educate and change attitudes in these operations,“ talks about the missions executive director of MAGNA Martin Bandžák.
Sexual violence is linked with forced dispossession of land and property, loss of relatives, outbreak of conflicts or civil war. Victims of this type of violence need immediate health care and psychosocial support. MAGNA medical team provide it. The SGBV program is one of the main tasks of medial operations in DR Congo and South Sudan. It is a part of mission in countries hit by natural disaster or humanitarian crisis in Nepal, Haiti, Phillipines, Cambodia or Syria. “Sexual violence is now widely recognized as a deliberate strategy used to shred the fabric of society; to control and intimidate communities and to force people from their homes. It is a tactic of war and impediment to peacebuilding.“ Comments the situation of conflictual zones Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary General. The UN in New York organized on Tuesday panel discussion dedicated to prevention, victims and legal norms bound to sexual violence.
MAGNA promotes complex approach that consists of medical emergency, psychological and legal support and involving the community in treating individual and collective traumas. In praxis in the field it is as follows – MAGNA medical staff provides the victim medical aid within the 72 hours after the assault. The victim has guaranteed nursing and examination for presence of infections and viruses such as HIV/AIDS, hepatitis and tetanus as well as prevention of unwanted pregnancy. In the majority of cases family and community has strong reactions. They even exclude the victim from the society. Therefore MAGNA provides psychosocial support and education to the whole community and its leaders. MAGNA emphasizes to change the behavior and attitudes of people, so the victim has chance to reintegrate into social and economic life and further bring the case to justice. At that time, victim needs intensified psychological support from professionals.
The innovated part of the approach is involving boys and men. We believed that it is also important to educate men of public administration: prosecutors, judges, police and soldiers. Men started to be more responsible when they felt involved in this issue. As a success story from our project in DR Congo, where we have now more than 70% cases brought to our health facility directly by police member opposite to 0,9% at the initiation of the project few years ago.
MAGNA helps the victims of sexual violence since 2011. Since the beginning of 2015 we treated 801 victims in DR Congo and trained for prevention and symptoms 1467 community leaders, policemen, nurses and youngsters. We trained 83 medical staff to be ready to provide medical emergency and 418 community workers were trained for identification and assistance to victims in their communities. MAGNA currently operates in 8 hospitals in capital Kinshasa where 100 MAGNA staff grant free of charge health and psychosocial assitance to victims of which 90% are children.
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