For this week’s blog post I will be making the correlation of how violence against women has should be treated as ongoing medical issues. Violence against women is sadly more common in Sierra Leone than we think. Women are subject to gender based violence such as domestic abuse and sexual abuse, including rape. Unfortunately, these problems don’t seem to be new in any means, these problems have been going on for a long time. As I have mentioned in many of my posts about Sierra Leone, these issues escalated severely during the civil war and still is rampant years after the war has ended. The country’s turmoil and strife, had severe negative consequences toward the health and betterment of the women in society. The respect for human life and law only decreased during the war, with the main people suffering the consequences being women.
The first issue regarding women that I will go into depth in, is domestic violence. In the first eight months of 2013, more than 6,500 cases of domestic violence disputes were reported in Sierra Leone (irinnews). This number is still widely considered to be drastically underreported, because of the stigmas that women face if they report domestic abuse. Even when women report their abuse, it is very unlikely that the man will get convicted for it. In many cases, women are discouraged from reporting their abuse, facing criticism from other family member and members of their community that if they report it, it will only be worse. Their actions are always in question, being asked what they did for their husbands to violate them, and maybe they should just try harder to not make him mad. As I have stated before, women will not report it because they are afraid of the backlash they will get from their own members, and because men rarely get convicted, they are terrified at what will happen to them when the husbands get out of jail. I think that it’s extremely unfortunate that this is so common among the women of Sierra Leone, I hope that with changing times and hopefully the advancement of the country, these issues can be resolved. There is no reason anyone should live in fear of their own family members.
One other major health issue that I will be talking about that it prevalent in Sierra Leone is sexual violence. Many women in all counties, all areas, and all regions of the country were subject to sexual violence during the 10 year civil war. During the war, there was not really a respect for human life or women’s rights, and it was reported that many women were raped. Rebel soldiers would invade different parts of the country and no matter who it was, they would violate and torture the women and girls. HRW.org has reported that not only the soldiers, but also by governmental forces as well as international peacekeepers (hrw.org). Often times, the violence would escalate into a gang rape, and many were violated with dangerous objects such as firewood, umbrellas, and pistols. Sometimes, after the girls were raped by militia forces, they were taken form their families and forced to take care of the people who took her.
All of this violence, and discrimination, can cause PTSD among the victims at hand. From being violated during the war by rebel forces, or being terrified of the consequences that they may face for reporting domestic violence. I think that this all has an effect on mental health. With that being said, I think that is the flaw with the biomedical system. That the mind and body are treated differently, and while the body can heal with proper care, the same amount of care should be considered for the mind. The effects from mental issues such as PTSD have such long lasting effects, and without proper care and handling, it can really affect someone’s way of life. In regard to the public health aspect of it all, I think that violence issues can MAYBE be seen as a public health issue, only because public health tends to look more at the population, rather than an individual, and the effects of all of this violence has such adverse effects on women’s health in all aspects of the term.
“Fighting Gender-based Violence in Sierra Leone.” IRINnews. Web. 31 July 2015.
“Sierra Leone: Sexual Violence Widespread in War.” Human Rights Watch. 16 Jan. 2003. Web. 31 July 2015.