Here in the health centre women have an opening to speak of their problems

Female doctor with her ambulanceDuring the 20 year civil war in Peru sexual violence was used as a war tactic, something that continues to have an impact on women. Inequality and exclusion persist, with women having less access to information about reproductive health and HIV prevention.

Dr Michelle Cabrera is a doctor who works with Womankind’s partner DEMUS in Manta, Peru.

“Here in Manta, even though the main problem is the number of people affected by their experience of the conflict, which means that the majority have post-traumatic stress, we do not have a psychologist. We have just one doctor (myself), a nurse and technicians. And the community needs a lot of psychological support; it’s not just any community.

“The women are the most affected. For them, the rapes aren’t a thing of the past, they are a current issue. In addition to the rapes from the unpunished actions of the Manta military base during the armed conflict, there is still a lot of domestic violence. But they don’t have anyone to turn to as the Judge of the Peace in Manta tells them it’s best not to report [their abusers], that they continue with their husbands.

“Here in the health centre the women feel that there is a better reception and therefore they have a certain opening to speak of their problems in the private sphere, such as the abuses and the rapes.

“However, neither I nor the nurse feel that we have the necessary backing, not even of the technicians that work with us. We also do not have the backing of community and even less of the male authorities. Equipment is stolen and we believe that even the very technicians themselves have been involved. In this environment we feel that DEMUS is a great support.

“Here in Manta a psychologist is required who will work in a permanent capacity on machismo, gender-based violence and domestic violence. There is a crisis of values within the family.

“The support from DEMUS includes psychological care for the women that require support, but they also help us to direct our work better and they also support us with materials.”

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