American Public Health Association (APHA)
138th Annual Meeting and Exposition
6–10 November 2010
"Health care provision for survivors of sexual assault: A study in Bangladesh"
Ismat Bhuiya, M.E. Khan, Aruna Bhattacharya, and Aditi Aeron
The consequences of sexual assault or rape are both physical and emotional, and are more damaging in cultural settings where men are expected to be sexually demanding and where women's sexuality is valued by its "purity." In Bangladesh, 5,816 women and children were raped between 2001 and 2007. Survivors of sexual assault need sympathy, timely medical attention, and counseling. The Population Council conducted a study to explore service provision for survivors of sexual assault.
The study was conducted in four cities. Interviews were conducted among 32 service providers in hospitals and 38 police officers in police stations adjacent to hospitals.
Sexual assault is classified as a medico-legal case. A protocol was said to exist, however, police officers were not even aware of its existence. There was no uniform service protocol to follow for managing sexual assault cases at hospitals. Postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) was an unfamiliar concept among doctors. Over 90% of doctors reported that sexually transmitted infections management was not given. HIV prevention services were nonexistent. Doctors and nurses had no orientation on managing survivors of sexual assault. Most police and medical providers were not sensitive to the needs and care of survivors of sexual assault. Respondents' thoughts were consistent with popular stereotypes, including blaming the survivors, emphasizing shame brought to the women's family, and lack of sympathy.
Both police and doctors need training for awareness and sensitivity to issues and for managing sexual assault cases, including skills in counseling and providing PEP. Protocols should be strictly implemented in police and health facilities.
- Plan health education strategies, interventions, and programs
- Provide health care to the public
- Assess the level of awareness and competency of service providers for managing survivors of sexual assault
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