Field evaluation and treatment of short-term psycho-medical trauma after sexual assault in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
ABSTRACT During the horrific war in the Democratic Republic of Congo during the years 1996-2007 the number of casualties is estimated to be 5.4 million. In addition, 1.8 million women, children and men were raped, many as a social weapon of war. Many of these women still suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and mutilated genitals.
To assess a short-term interventional team for the evaluation and treatment of sexual trauma victims.
The intervention program comprised four components: training the local staff, medical evaluation and treatment of patients, psychological evaluation and treatmentof trauma victims, and evacuation and transport of patients with mutilated genitals. A diagnostic tool for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)--the Impact Event Scale (IES)--was used. The psychological treatment was based on EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) principles. Using questionnaires, the information was obtained from patients, medical staff and medical records.
Three primary care clinics were chosen for intervention. Of the 441 women who attended the clinics over a period of 20 days, 52 women were diagnosed with severe PTSD. Psychological intervention was offered to only 23 women because of transport limitations. The most common medical problems were pelvic inflammatory disease and secondary infertility. Nine patients suffered genital mutilation and were transferred for surgical correction. The 32 local nurses and 2 physicians who participated in the theoretical and practical training course showed improved knowledge as evaluated by a written test.
With the short-term interventional team model for sexual assault victims the combined cost of medical and psychological services is low. The emphasis is on training local staff to enhance awareness and providing them with tools to diagnose and treat sexual assault and mutilation.
- [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: The Security Council has found that the endemic use of rape in war for military advantage – which is primarily targeted against women and girls – is a military tactic that presents a threat to global peace and security. Despite concerted global efforts over the last two decades to end its use, rape as a tool of war continues undeterred. This article links the intransigent use of strategic rape with states' failure to treat it as an unlawful tactic of war under the rules of international humanitarian law (IHL) that regulate the ‘means and methods of war’. Embedding strategic rape under IHL's weapons framework will increase its stigmatization, a critical factor in stopping the use of abhorrent weapons or tactics in war. Other potential benefits include the opening up of civil and criminal accountability frameworks and others which provide restitution and reparations for war rape victims. This article focuses on the role of all states in enforcing the weapons framework and it calls for states to undertake an impact and injuries assessment of strategic rape under the Article 36 weapons review process.Global Policy 05/2014; 5(2). DOI:10.1111/1758-5899.12140 · 1.21 Impact Factor