In April 2017, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing (JHSON) students attended the Consortium of Universities for Global Health Conference, “Healthy People, Healthy Ecosytems,” in Washington, D.C. Students wrote blogs reflecting on breakout sessions and topics presented by experts and the current climate of global health. In part four, we look at the thoughts of JHSON student Anna Jonker and violence in rural developing world environments.
“Violence is preventable.” Lori Heise, Associate Professor of Social Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, opened the conversation about intimate partner violence (IPV) with this statement. Heise gathered with four other colleagues to share their knowledge and work in the field of IPV against women around the world. Heise mentioned that IPV is the number one type of violence in any stressful situation, including war or conflict. We do not need to accept violence as the norm.
“Women on the vanguard in their setting have an increased risk for violence.” Lori Heise, Associate Professor, Social Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Levels of IPV continue to remain the highest in rural developing world environments. In this context, the social ecology often involves a combination of male authority over female behavior and a society that allows for discrimination against women, feeding into a culture of IPV. What happens to the change agents in these situations or the women who attempt to break out of the cultural mold and make a difference? Research has shown that women who are change agents, and push forward in their given situation, are actually at a higher risk for violence. In a society where women do not work, the first woman who goes out to get a job will be at an increased risk for violence. However, if the norm in a society is for women to work, a working woman will not be at increased risk for violence.
“Healthcare Providers often miss opportunities to intervene in situations of IPV.” Carmen Alvarez, Assistant Professor, Community- Public Health, Johns Hopkins School of Nursing
Although rates of IPV are the highest in rural developing world environments, the rates still remain high amongst ethnic minorities here in the United States, for example, Latina women. Dr. Carmen Alvarez presented her current research study that is considering how the underserved Latina population could be better reached with resources for IPV. Health care providers who serve the Latina population often feel like they miss opportunities to discuss the topic with their patients, citing a lack of time for the lack of their intervention. However, this means many cases of IPV go unnoticed and unresolved. If women are identified as experiencing IPV, health care providers often do not have a way to intervene.
IPV remains an issue around the world. While research has been conducted in this area, and interventions have been developed, there is still plenty of work to be done as we look toward the future. Interventions need to be culturally relevant and effective in preventing IPV.