Thursday, 11 October 2012

Areas of the World Untouched by Basic Human Rights

There are some areas of the world that have fascinated me for all the wrong reasons. Here in the UK, I have access to consistent healthcare, I can choose to do what I want with my body, and I am entitled to educate myself. Unfortunately, there are areas of the world where women are not afforded the same rights as myself. Although there are more areas of oppression than there are of freedom, one is particularly horrific for women around the world: The Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Despite its somewhat promising name, the DRC has become known as the most dangerous place for a woman in the world to live. For every five minutes that passes, four rapes will occur. One of the major factors influencing a woman’s health outcomes in the DRC is the sexual and gender based violence that occurs there. In 2005, The WHO tried to gather information on the injuries sustained by women in the DRC who had suffered from SGBV. Focus was placed on fistulas, which are often sustained as a result of mass rape. Although some information was gathered, the WHO believe that there was multiple missed opportunities to obtain accuracy. Women in the DRC tend to report violence to a variety of bodies, ranging from police officers to tribal leaders. Without accurate information, a targeted approach cannot be taken.

The end result of mass SGBV is devastating. Physical implications include unwanted pregnancies, STDs, AIDS, and fistulas. Women will also experience psychological traumas, and those who are made to give birth to children of rape may reject their babies.

In order to deal with the aftereffects of SGBV in the eastern areas of the DRC, the delivery of healthcare needs to be assessed. Women who become victims often cannot access the care services they need. Expanding these services and training local health care workers will aid in their recovery. Agencies working together can also contribute towards resolving the situation. Although it is worth noting that both the UN and WHO are working towards preventing SGBV and treating the aftereffects, crimes continue to be perpetuated across the eastern parts of the DRC. Empowering women on a national and global scale would allow them to gain enough control to prevent such atrocities, and it would establish a sense of mutual respect between both sexes. Ultimately, issues of war need to be addressed, but guaranteeing basic human rights is something that cannot be ignored.

By Laura McKeever

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