New guidelines will be put in place to protect female victims of intimate partner violence (IPV) while they are being screened during routine check-ups. These measures were announced by the South African Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecology (SASOG).

“GBV [gender-based violence] is a public health scourge that affects one in every three women globally and is no doubt the most pervasive of all human rights violations. In South Africa, a woman is killed every three hours, ranking femicide in this country fourth highest in the world,” SASOG said in a statement. “Most GBV takes place in the home and is perpetrated by a current or former intimate partner. IPV takes the form of physical violence, sexual violence, stalking and psychological aggression and is estimated to be responsible for 38% of women who are murdered worldwide.”

Under the new guidelines, gynaecologists and obstetricians will be required to:

– perform regular screening for IPV as part of the routine medical history;

– provide a private and safe setting for the screening to take place;

– use professional language interpreters;

– inform patients of the confidentiality of the discussion; and

– provide printed take-home resource material.

“SASOG believes that obstetricians and gynaecologists are in a position to make a real difference to women affected by GBV.  We urge our members, [who] include the majority of obstetricians and gynaecologists in the country, to immediately adopt these guidelines in the interest of healing our nation of this scourge,” Professor Priya Soma-Pillay, a SASOG representative on the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics (FIGO), said to News24.

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