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article imageHealth Workers Facilitate Wife Beating

By Carol Forsloff     Feb 1, 2009 in Science
Wife-beating is epidemic in Turkey. It’s widespread in South Africa. More than a third of the women in Brazil and Thailand report physical partner violence.
Although it is condemned by helping organizations around the world, wife beating is common in many places. What’s worse is when health workers facilitate or condone it as recently reported in a study done in Turkey.
In Turkey which has wife-beating virtually institutionalized, a high percentage of health workers don't respond or work with the victims of domestic violence in sympathetic ways. That’s because the culture accepts wife- beating. On a questionnaire 69.0% of the female and 84.7% of the male health workers stated that the agreed to or partially agreed to at least one reason to excuse physical violence.
The accepted grounds for beating one’s wife in Turkey includes criticizing the man, lying to him or refusing to care for the children. Deceiving the husband is the most serious offense with over half of female doctors agreeing that the man should be able to punish the wife physically if the wife deceived him. These are accepted grounds also for honor killings.
Because of the cultural rigidity on the matter of approving wife-beating most health care workers in Turkey don’t know the legal issues nor is there any real training in the country to help medical personnel identify and report signs of physical abuse.
Although less than 20% of females report physical abuse by their husbands in Japan, a diplomat, wanting to excuse the beating of his wife, told Canadian officials that it was accepted in Japan. Japan officials were so offended they had the wife abuser, consul general, Shuji Simokoji, sent home. Health workers in Japan do have training in recognizing signs of domestic abuse as do workers in most European countries including Great Britain, Germany, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, Ireland, Switzerland and others.
One author underlines the fact that some newspapers have erroneously reported the rule of thumb of Blackstone which relates to what they say meant that the husband could beat his wife with a stick so long as it was not wider than his thumb that was supposed to be operation in Great Britain and the United States.. The fact is both Britian and America have had laws predating the Revolution that prohibit wife beating, although there were times and places where the laws weren’t properly applied.
So in many of the developed countries wife beating may occur, but health care workers don’t reinforce or condone it. In Turkey, however, there seems to be no escape for women whose doctors and care providers don’t intercede and help them.
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