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Get Behind This Global Immune Response

A 17-year-old patient named arrived at an East African Health Center for treatment after she had been raped. The doctor instructed her to lay down on the table for examination, and with her eyes closed she replied “no”.

Scared to scar her or to touch a patient without permission, the doctor sent this girl home.

Alice Han was a doctor at the Health Center, and could not help the patient, Lily, because the language barrier. Watching Lily be sent home with no referral for treatment, medication for PTSD, potential pregnancy, or counseling, Alice realized this world needs an immune response to violence against women and girls.

Sadly, Lily’s story is not unique. In the USA, a study showed that 80% of health care specialists did not provide complete care to a patient after rape.

Right now, an average of 1/3 women in their lifetime are subject to emotional or physical violence. Girls who receive violence are at risk for depression, traumatic brain injury, fatal outcomes, homicide, and even suicide.

We need to take steps to reframe education and treatment to violence against women and girls (VAWG). There are gaps in the medical responses of VAWG around the world.

Doctors need to receive training as well as coordinate a relationship with legal services; about 66% of rapes go unreported! Health care specialists need to routinely ask during their visit if their patient is experiencing physical and emotional violence.

VAWG is a nationwide disease, so we need everyone involved in the cure. Using education as the ‘vaccination’ is the first step to increase awareness and support victims.

Alice Han is now the Instructor in Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Biology at Harvard Medical School. She is also a Physician at Dimock Community Health Center in Boston where is a strong VAWG advocate and educator

Use #CUREVAWG to be a part of this global movement.

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