196409 Responding to violence against women in Rwanda: An issue of health equity

Monday, November 9, 2009

Constance Newman, MSW, MPH , IntraHealth International, Chapel Hill, NC
Athanasie Kabagwira , Former BCDI Building, Kigali, Rwanda
Jana Scislowicz, BA , IntraHealth International, Chapel Hill, NC
Shannon Salentine, MPH , Macro International, Calverton, MD
Fιlix Muramutsa, MA , Independent Consultant, Kigali, Rwanda
A 2007 Rwandan government study showed that:

• More than 25% of Rwandan women had experienced sexual violence during the five years prior to the study.

• More than 12% had been victims of at least one act of physical violence.

• More than 13% had been victims of psychological violence.

In 2008, IntraHealth's Twubakane Program assessed the readiness of health facilities, the politico-legal environment, and the community to respond to violence against women (VAW) in three districts.

Assessment results showed:

• Positive health provider attitudes about caring for victims but weak knowledge about VAW and lack of service delivery protocols and client education materials

• The politico-legal environment offers opportunities to integrate a response to VAW into antenatal care (ANC), but policy gaps must be addressed to make services more victim-friendly.

• A culture of silence and impunity perpetuates violence. Collaboration between health facilities, police and community organizations can improve response to VAW.

VAW prevents women from achieving psychological and physical security and healthy pregnancies. Follow-on activities at policy, health facility and community levels that promote health equity by eliminating obstacles to service access and better health will include:

• Policy reform, training health care providers to respond to VAW and developing clinic protocols and materials for screening ,counseling and referral

• Promoting community/health facility partnerships for improved victim support and referral

• Sensitizing police officers and assisting with VAW training for improved police VAW response and referral

• Mobilizing communities to prevent VAW and promoting women's financial independence.

Learning Objectives:
1. List types of violence against women in Rwanda 2. Discuss violence against women as an issue of health equity 3. Describe a multi-sectoral, multi-level approach to improving health equity for victims of violence

Keywords: Violence Prevention, Gender

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Team leader for Gender Equality initiatives at IntraHealth, with a master's degrees in Social Work and Public Health and experience in design and oversight of projects on violence against women in Armenia and Rwanda. I am the Principal Investigator on the study, responsible for the conceptualization of the study, the final writing of the report and design and technical oversight of gender-based violence-related program activities.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.