'Medical staff must report violence against women'

On official day for fighting violence against women, Health Ministry director-general reminds officials to look out for signs of domestic violence.

November 26, 2010 04:34
1 minute read.
An abused woman.

abuse_311. (photo credit: Courtesy (illustrative).)

Health Ministry director-general Dr. Ronni Gamzu reminded all hospital and health fund directors in a letter sent on Thursday to keep an eye out for women showing signs of having suffered domestic violence.

He did so to mark the official day for fighting violence against women.

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In his letter, Gamzu said that a new report produced by the Midot organization (which analyzes the efficacy of voluntary organizations) found that 5.8 percent of all women – 160,000 Israelis – suffer from chronic physical violence in the family. But only a quarter of those report their suffering to the police, social workers or others who deal with the phenomenon.

The rate of those who have been victims of sexual violence at least once is 7.6% – over 200,000 women. An estimated one in 10 reports the crime, according to Midot.

Police statistics show that every year, 3,700 women (or 10 women per day) report having been raped. In addition, an average of 15 women a year are murdered in domestic violence.

The ministry director-general wrote that early detection of domestic violence can prevent serious violence and murder in many cases. The problem is that staff – especially in health clinics and hospitals – are not trained to deal with such problems and, when they see suspicious signs, fear that they are interfering in the women’s personal lives or that the signs may not be the result of violence.

Gamzu said medical personnel were legally required to report suspected violence against their patients. Awareness and training must be increased among them, he said.

He urged clinics and hospitals to keep the possibility of domestic violence in their minds all the time and advise victims on where to get help. The health funds and hospitals must hold courses for people who receive patients in clinics and emergency rooms, the material for which has already been prepared in the ministry, he said.

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