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St John of God Order Holds Conference on World Day of Violence Against Women

The Brothers of Saint John of God are in the lead

The Hospitaller Order of the Brothers of Saint John of God is engaged in many different ways in combating violence against women. The following two examples of actions taken by the Order in Rome and Vienna provide eloquent proof of this.

To assist the victims of domestic violence and heighten society’s awareness of this issue, in 2011 the Brothers of Saint John of God’s Hospital in Vienna set up an internal group to defend the victims of domestic violence.

Since 2011 every hospital in Austria has been required to institute these groups (of interdisciplinary teams of doctors, psychologists and nurses), but only a few, including the Order’s hospitals, have so far complied with this obligation. The aim of these groups is not only to provide the best possible assistance to victims of mental and sexual violence, but also to sensitise, educate and train all the health care professionals to work in this important field. Many of the 130,000 patients who attend the outpatient departments at the Vienna hospital every year are victims of domestic violence. For them it is crucially important to recognise the violence to which they are subjected, offer them an alternative pathway to the standard hospital approach and immediately deploy all the means needed to help them.

After the first two years of experience, the professionals working in this group have confirmed that all the hospital staff is now able to more accurately detect cases of violence. They have also become more courageous in reporting these cases, gathering evidence and counselling the victims on the best places to go, whereas before they tended to ?offload ?the victims on A&E.

For several years now, the Fatebenefratelli Hospital on Rome's Tiber Island has had a centre dealing specifically with victims of violence and abuse, called APE (the Italian acronym for ?Vulnerable Persons Haven?). Here, too, there is an interdisciplinary team of physicians, nurses, psychologists and social workers. This Centre works in very close conjunction with the Fondazione Doppia Difesa (Dual Defence Foundation) which provides assistance and legal counselling services. Two very well-known women, the advocate Giulia Bongiorno and the television presenter and actor, Michelle Hunziker, founded the ?Dual Defence Foundation?.

For the World Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, on November 25 the Fatebenefratelli International Foundation organised a conference on violence against women at Tiber Island Hospital. 


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