Nurses, physicians, mental health professionals, social workers, teachers, child care workers, and others who provide critical services to women, girls, and families are often the first to become aware of violence against women. Their role in supporting women and helping to ensure their safety is paramount. Further, these professionals often have specific duties mandated by law. Coordinated community response programs recognize this important role and engage these professions in planning for effective implementation of laws on violence against women.
Laws on Helping Professionals’ Role in Implementation
Laws on violence against women should recognize the important role of social service providers, whether those providers are civil servants or private actors. Drafters should include the following types of provisions relative to social service providers:
The following are examples of the ways in which some countries have included these types of provisions in their laws on violence against women:
In Mongolia, the Law on Combating Domestic Violence gives victims a right to “to be taken to a medical institution for medical treatment.” See: Article 12.1.2. Further, Mongolia’s law makes medical personnel legally responsible for their failure to provide appropriate services. Article 18.1 states that “[j]udges, policemen, doctors and medical workers, who failed to fulfill their duties envisaged in the present Law, shall be held liable according to the pertinent legislation.”
The Republic of Korea’s Act on the Prevention of Domestic Violence requires medical facilities to provide victims with services for mental or physical injury, if requested to do so by the victim, a family member, or a counselor. The law also allocates the costs of the treatment to the offender or to the state and/or treating institution if the victim so requests. See: Art. 18.
The Anti-Violence against Women and their Children Act in the Philippines requires all agencies responding to violence against women and their children to undergo education and training on a) the nature and causes of violence against women and their children; b) legal rights and remedies of complainants/survivors; c) services available; d) legal duties of police officers to make arrests and offer protection and assistance; and e) techniques for handling incidents of violence against women and their children.
Spain’s Organic Act 1/2004 of 28 December on Integrated Protection Measures against Gender Violence states in Article 15 that:
1. The health authorities, through the Interterritorial Council of the National Health Service, shall promote and facilitate actions among health professionals for the early detection of gender violence, and will deploy all the means they consider necessary to optimise the health sector’s contribution to combating this type of violence.
2. In particular, sensitisation and ongoing training programmes shall be organised for healthcare professionals in order to facilitate and improve early detection and the care and recovery of women suffering gender violence.
3. The competent educational authorities shall ensure that degree and diploma programmes and the specialisation courses aimed at social work and healthcare professionals incorporate contents to skill them in the prevention and early detection of gender violence, taking action in cases and providing supports to victims.
In Spain, under the Organic Act 1/2004 of 28 December on Integrated Protection Measures against Gender Violence the education authorities “shall take the necessary steps to ensure the immediate school enrolment of children when a woman changes residence for reasons of gender violence.”
In Israel, the 2001 Amendment no. 7 to the Prevention of Violence in the Family Law established a duty upon certain professionals detailed below, to inform a person treated or advised professionally, reasonably thought to be the victim of a violent or sexual offence committed by her current or previous spouse, of her options – turning to the police, social service department, or centers for the treatment and prevention of domestic violence. The duty applies to the following: doctors, nurses, pedagogies, social workers, police officers, psychologists, clinical criminologists, para-medical personnel, lawyers, religious scholars, and rabbinical pleaders. See: Amendment No. 7 (2001) to the Prevention of Violence in the Family Law, UN Secretary-general’s database on violence against women.
Sweden’s Act Prohibiting Discrimination and Other Degrading Treatment of Children and School Students requires that the national education agency create a policy for prevention of sexual harassment in schools. Many laws on sexual and other forms of harassment around the world require this type of policy development by schools.
In Belarus, the Ministry of Public Health was mandated to develop protocols and guidelines, including for the provision of free medical services, so as to implement the government’s directives on combating human trafficking. See: Belarus, UN Secretary-general’s database on violence against women.
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