sábado, 24 de novembro de 2012

Haiti - A Call for Forensic Nurses

Call for Forensic Nurses in Haiti
“Gender-based violence is defined in the Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women as any act of violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or private life” (Amnesty International, 2011, p. 21). Forensic nurse examiners care for a multitude of victims of violent crime, such as sexual assault. Because health care views and practices vary among cultures, forensic nurses must possess an understanding of a patient’s culture to provide individualized and culturally competent care to victims of sexual assault and other violent crimes. (Lech, 2008)  Gender-based violence remains widespread in Haiti, particularly in tent communities. Identifying and caring for victims of gender-based violence and sexual assault in Haiti requires respect for and knowledge of Voodoo practices, religion, history, tradition, customs, living conditions, political environment, and socioeconomic circumstances. Possible barriers to reporting and collecting evidence cannot discourage forensic nurse involvement. “Every country has unique crimes, practices, and human right violations.” (Lynch, 2007, p. 103)However, what remains consistent is the basic human right of safety and culturally appropriate and respectful care.
Risk factors for sexual violence in Haiti
According to a fieldwork study before the earthquake, “the widespread and systematic rape of girls has become not only a political weapon of rival groups, but also a common practice of criminal gangs aimed at controlling deprived communities.” (Faedi, 2008, p. 173)After interviewing women living in tent communities in Haiti following the earthquake, Amnesty International (2011) reported the following risk factors for increased gender-based violence and decreased reporting:
  • Insufficiency of security or law enforcement in tent communities
  • Inadequate or absence of law enforcement response to reports of rape
  • Insubstantial and insecure housing made of tents and tarps
  • Insufficient toilet facilities requiring long walks through dark tent cities at night
  • Collapse of law and order and increase in gang violence
  • Centuries of patriarchy and a culture of male ownership over women and girls
  • Cultural belief that only virgins qualify as victims of sexual assault
  • Overcrowded tent villages
  • Limited work opportunities
  • Imbalanced supply of aid within and between tent camps
  • Inability to protect survivors of sexual violence, increasing chances of re-victimization
  • Insufficient knowledge of available avenues options for victims of sexual assault