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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 7  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 1-4

Is my daughter still a virgin? Can you, please, check it, doctor?

Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontiéres (MSF), Italy

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sara Rigon
Via Caprarie 1, 40124 Bologna
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_40_18

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Gender-based violence is a pervasive public health problem, let alone a violation of human rights. The World Health Organization (WHO) has estimated that, overall, 35% of women worldwide have experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or nonpartner sexual violence. In 2016, the author had the privilege to work with an outstanding group of people that helps sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) survivors in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. The clinic, run by an international nongovernmental organizations, open walk-in to anyone in need, is functioning to the present day. In its 1st year along, the clinic helped almost 1000 survivors, mainly underaged girls. At the clinic, a highly qualified staff of local doctors and nurses, psychologists, and social workers is available, free of charge, 24 h a day, 7 days a week, and accessible to SGBV survivors in absolute confidentiality. Survivors are offered all the support they might need as per the WHO guidelines, from medical assistance (treating of physical injuries, testing and preventing sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV or hepatitis B, and also gynecological and obstetric care) to psychological counseling, as well as specific referrals to shelters, legal aid, or secondary care as needed. Virginity still is highly valued in Haiti, and the father, mother, the beau-mare, or aunt of the survivor will often approach the doctor and anxiously whisper the question: “Is my daughter (goddaughter, niece) still a virgin?”, “Can you, please, check it, Doctor?” This article presents the perspective of SGBV survivors clinic in Port-au-Prince, Haiti.

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