I have always seen domestic violence or violence against women as a health issue. If not for their immediate physical health after the abuse, but also for the effect of prolonged stress after the incident. I think more and more people are coming to look at health from a more holistic point of view. We understand how the mind so deeply affects the body. We have data on what prolonged stress indicated by cortisol levels does to our physical health. I not only think these traumas effect the health of the woman who experiences it, but I also believe these traumas effect the health of their future children. I remember watching an entire documentary on infant mortality in the United States, last semester in my psychology of women class. The documentary made the argument that infant mortality is so high in the United States because of the prolonged effects of being exposed to institutionalized sexism, and that black women in America in particular have a higher infant mortality rate because of a life long exposure to racism. This idea is challenging to biomedicine that only see the body as a machine and prescribes a pill for every ill when a “system” is not functioning correctly. We are very complex emotional beings. I think that assuming that what is going on inside our minds does not affect our entire health is disservice to us all. I think the way biomedicine looks at alternative medicine and any form of healing that connects spiritual and mental health with physical health is disrespectful. The first week we looked at a link on the United States Department of Health and Human Services page on the effects and risk of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The article discredited the herbs used in Traditional Chinese Healing by saying manufacturers don’t have to prove to the FDA that most claims made for dietary supplements are valid; if the product were a drug, they would have to provide proof (Traditional Chinese Medicine: In Depth). The article also gave the authority to biomedical physician over any alternative medicine physicians by saying, tell all your health care providers about any complementary health approaches you use (Traditional Chinese Medicine: In Depth).
In Egypt women are subjected to sexual harassment and assault in horrific numbers. In a study conducted by Mary Ellsberg et al, on intimate partner violence and its correlation to poor health. In this study, they examined the health of Egyptian women who face intimate partner violence. Pooled analysis of all sites found significant associations between lifetime experiences of partner violence and self-reported poor health (odds ratio 1·6 [95% CI 1·5–1·8]), and with specific health problems in the previous 4 weeks: difficulty walking (1·6 [1·5–1·8]), difficulty with daily activities (1·6 [1·5–1·8]), pain (1·6 [1·5–1·7]), memory loss (1·8 [1·6–2·0]), dizziness (1·7 [1·6–1·8]), and vaginal discharge (1·8 [1·7–2·0]) (Ellsberg). For all settings combined, women who reported partner violence at least once in their life reported significantly more emotional distress, suicidal thoughts (2·9 [2·7–3·2]), and suicidal attempts (3·8 [3·3–4·5]), than non-abused women (Ellsberg). Clearly, the health of women is effected by the abuse they face from their partners. It effects their emotional health in dealing this the post traumatic stress after being abused. It effects their physical health by the act of being abused and from the emotional strain that comes from constantly living in an unsafe and unstable environment. Egypt’s infant mortality rate is 18 per 1,000 live births (Unicef). I think these numbers could be much lower if women were not subjected to sexism, harassment, and abuse on a daily basis. Physical violence against women starts at a young age and usually goes unreported because of the religious view of the father being responsible for the discipline of the children. As these girls grow up they are subjected to sexual harassment on the streets. Women report revealed that 99.3 per cent of women surveyed had been sexually harassed on the street (Curnow). All of these events that women in Egypt face alters how they feel about their own body. One’s connection and feeling about their body undoubtedly effects their physical health.
Curnow, W. (2017, August 27). Egypt’s women fight harassment on the street and restrictions at home. Retrieved from http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-27/young-women-fight-harassment-restrictions-in-egypt/8729056
Ellsberg, Mary. Intimate partner violence and women’s physical and mental health in the WHO multi-country study on women’s health and domestic violence: An observational study. (2008, April 03). Retrieved from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S014067360860522X
Traditional Chinese Medicine: In Depth. (2018, July 16). Retrieved from https://nccih.nih.gov/health/whatiscam/chinesemed.htm#hed2
Unicef Statistics. (2013, December 24). Retrieved from https://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/egypt_statistics.html